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Earning respect: Dillon Gabriel compared to top quarterback Heisman Trophy contenders

By on August 3, 2021 0

When comparing UCF quarterback Dillon Gabriel to other high profile callers across the country, there are several ways to make the comparison. Success percentage of passes, touchdowns, rushing touchdowns, yards per game, etc. What doesn’t seem to be mentioned but undoubtedly enters the equation when the best quarterbacks are discussed is the level of play.

While a quarterback like the one from Oklahoma Spencer rattler definitely worth mentioning, how much better is he than Gabriel? Same question, now with sophomore quarterback Clemson DJ Uiagalelei? They are in the Power Five, while Gabriel is not.

There are several sports books in Las Vegas that rank the preseason odds for the Heisman Trophy, and overall there is little respect for Gabriel. This is a name recognition competition to some extent, but brand recognition, i.e. the school name on the soccer jersey, apparently holds the most power, at least for the 2021 season.

With all of the different names represented on various Heisman Trophy Watchlists, here’s a look at how Gabriel stacks up against three of the quarterbacks that are ranked ahead of him. Should Gabriel be placed in the same category as the following quarterbacks?

Recent DraftKings Heisman odds next to each player’s name

Dillon gabriel (+5000)

UCF quarterback Dillon Gabriel

Vital: 6’0 ”, 200 lbs

Position: quarterback

High school: Mililani High School (Hawaii)

To classify: Junior

Success statistics 2020: 248 of 413 (60.0%), for 3,570 yards and 32 touchdowns with four interceptions.

The biggest statistical game: In Memphis, Gabriel was 35 of 49 (71.4%) for 601 yards and five touchdowns with no interceptions.

Why he is a candidate for the Heisman Trophy: Proven field general who exploits the weakness of a defense. Gabriel has proven to possess extreme precision, a skillful touch on the deep ball, and the uncanny ability to make a precise down throw even under duress during his first two seasons under the Knights cross. While he doesn’t play in the ACC or the SEC, Gabriel’s quarterback skills would work well in Alabama or Clemson, just like they do for UCF.

Spencer rattler (+550 – favorite)

Spencer Rattler, Oklahoma quarterback

Spencer Rattler, Oklahoma quarterback

Vital: 6’1 “, 205 pounds

Position: quarterback

High school: Phoenix (Arizona) Pinnacle

To classify: Junior

Success statistics 2020: 214 of 317 (67.5%), for 3,031 yards and 28 touchdowns with seven interceptions.

The biggest statistical game: Against Oklahoma State, Rattler had 17 or 24 (70.8%), for 301 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions.

Why he is a candidate for the Heisman Trophy: Rattler leads one of the best offensives in the country, and he should be Oklahoma’s next great quarterback to compete for the Heisman Trophy and go into the NFL. Rattler’s big-game potential has erupted in the 2020 season, and he is set to take another step forward in 2021.

DJ Uiagalelei (+600)

DJ Uiagalelei, Clemson quarterback

DJ Uiagalelei, Clemson quarterback

Vital: 6’4 “, 250 pounds

Position: quarterback

High school: Inland Empire (California) St. John Bosco

To classify: Second year

Success statistics 2020: 78 of 117 (66.7%), for 914 yards and five touchdowns with zero interceptions.

The biggest statistical game: at Notre Dame, 29 of 44 (65.9%), for 439 yards and two touchdowns with zero interceptions.

Why he is a candidate for the Heisman Trophy: Uiagalelei’s ability to throw balls through narrow windows could be unmatched as his arm strength is elite, even by NFL standards. Also intelligent, this young flagman set fire to the secondary school of Notre-Dame, on the road, during his first university career. He’s waited a season behind Trevor Lawrence to now be the starter, and he’s set to be Clemson’s next quarterback. Although inexperienced, don’t completely rule out Uiagalelei who comes up for the biggest individual prize in college football.

Sam howell (+1700)

Sam Howell, North Carolina quarterback

Sam Howell, North Carolina quarterback

Vital: 6’1 ”, 220 pounds

Position: quarterback

High school: Indian Trail (NC) Sun Valley

To classify: Junior

Success statistics 2020: 237 of 348 (68.1%), for 3,586 yards and 30 touchdowns with seven interceptions.

The biggest statistical game: against Wake Forest, 32 of 45 (71.1%), for 550 yards and six touchdowns with an interception.

Why he is a candidate for the Heisman Trophy: Howell operates defenses even if it means giving up. Against Miami, the Hurricanes couldn’t stop the race, so Howell continued to pass the baton. Against Wake Forest, a team that struggles to stop the pass, Howell lit up the Demon Deacons on 550 passing yards. One of the smartest flaggers in the country, Howell has demonstrated that he will find a way to score points no matter how it is done.

Compare quarterbacks

Gabriel is the field general who tears up some of the defense by shooting the field, Rattler is a bit of a gunslinger with the mobility to extend plays and create long distance passes to pieces, Uiagalelei provides the classic pocket passer who makes laser throws, and Howell is a versatile quarterback who beats opponents the way he can. There is something different about Gabriel from others.

He doesn’t play in the Power Five. Yes, his style is slightly different than the other quarterbacks listed above, and he’s slightly different than the rising sophomore Alabama, for example. Bryce Young (+800) it’s also ultra-talented, or Ole Miss’s junior redshirt Matt Corral (+2000) he is a gifted athlete who knows how to throw. It’s just that Gabriel isn’t in the Power Five. This is really the difference why it doesn’t rank as well as other signal callers on most Heisman sportsbook trophy lists.

Will Gabriel move up the leaderboard as the season progresses? He will certainly have a chance. With the opener against Boise State, the Knights will have a national audience with a Thursday night game televised by ESPN. This game is the starting point for Gabriel and the Knights as a whole.

Big games matter to voters

Players are often judged by matches against rivals, thwarted wins and clutch play in the fourth quarter. Heisman Trophy voters are known to tune into these types of games and make instant judgments. This is just the reality and it has been discussed for decades.

Gabriel’s earlier game certainly placed its name in each of those aforementioned categories. Now the Hawaii junior must lead the Knights to a great season with 10 or more wins, and give their best in the biggest contests – Boise State, Louisville, Cincinnati, Memphis, AAC Championship Game – so he can truly compete for the Heisman Trophy.

Final thoughts

Gabriel is one of the best players and quarterbacks in the country. He has not yet received his due. It’s part of the deal when you play in the Group of Five, like it or not. That being said, Gabriel’s skills should provide another successful season, and with UCF head coach Gus Malzahn now leading the offensive, there is a chance for more fireworks in Orlando.

Time will tell if Gabriel will end up in New York, NY for the Heisman Trophy ceremony, but he certainly deserves to be placed among the elite signal callers in the country. Whether it’s Rattler, Uiagalelei, Howell or another quarterback, Gabriel should be considered one of the best in the country.

For UCF news, college football news, and recruiting information, go to my YouTube channel and podcast

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