OXFORD, Miss. — Jordan Ta’amu couldn’t have been more poised in the pocket last season for Ole Miss. The quarterback from Pearl City, Hawaii made the right passes and used his legs for yardage when the lanes were open for him. Could a successful 2018 season lead to Heisman talk for Ta’amu?
With a season under his belt in offensive coordinator Phil Longo’s system and the nation’s best receiving corps—which includes A.J. Brown, D.K. Metcalf, Damarkus Lodge and Dawson Knox—at his disposal, Ta’amu has both the skills and the weapons to be in the conversation for the Heisman Trophy this season.
When the starter went down with an injury in the LSU game last year, Ta’amu entered the game and didn’t miss a beat.
In fact, in his first start as a collegiate player against Arkansas the following week, Ta’amu finished No. 10 in Total QBR in the country. He also finished the week ranked higher than any of the league’s other returning quarterbacks.
For the season, he finished 2017 with 1,682 passing yards and 11 touchdowns (to only four interceptions), en route to completing 115 of 173 pass attempts.
Just imagine if Ta’amu would have played the entire season. He easily could have been gunning for the top spot in passing yards in the conference with Missouri’s quarterback Drew Lock—or perhaps even the nation.
With an arsenal of receiving talent rarely seen on one team and an offensive line that has a combined 103 collegiate starts, Ta’amu has the opportunity to place his name squarely amongst the elite college football players competing for the Heisman.
In an article by NFL.com’s college football writer Chase Goodbread, the author lists his Top Heisman Trophy candidates for 2018—but Ta’amu isn’t named. Included, however, are fellow SEC QBs Nick Fitzgerald (Mississippi State), Jarrett Stidham (Auburn), Jake Fromm (Georgia), Tua Tagovailoa (Alabama) and Missouri’s Lock.
Goodbread ranks Fromm at No. 6, Stidham at No. 8, Lock at No. 10, Tagovailoa at No. 12, and Fitzgerald at No. 17.
Ta’amu among the league’s statistical leaders in 2017
Yet, if one takes a look at the stats among the quarterbacks in the Southeastern Conference last season, Ta’amu is atop some of the most important statistical rankings for a quarterback. He finished first in yards per pass attempt (9.72), tied for first (with Jarrett Stidham) in the league in completion percentage (66.5), and second in passer rating (164.51) only behind Drew Lock (165.68).
The question should be–how is Ta’amu NOT considered in Goodbread’s list of possible Heisman quarterback nominees from the SEC?
And again, Ta’amu experienced this success in just the last five games of Ole Miss’ 2017 season. He didn’t have the benefit of going through fall camp as the starter, and he wasn’t the starter in practices until after the LSU game.
Yet Ta’amu played at an elite level last season, outperforming many of the other SEC quarterbacks on Goodbread’s list.
In 2018, look for Ta’amu to repeat last season’s success, but expect him to do so for a full season. He will have Brown, the league’s leader in receiving yards last season, at his disposal. And DaMarkus Lodge, D.K. Metcalf, Dawson Knox and Braylon Sanders are weapons that should scare every opponent on Ole Miss’ schedule.
The Rebels’ offensive line, anchored by veterans such as Sean Rawlings, Greg Little, Javon Patterson, Alex Givens and Jordan Sims, is one of the most experienced in the country and will help put Ta’amu and the offense in position to be one of the best in the SEC and in the nation, while simultaneously helping Ta’amu earn the respect he deserves. Don’t be surprised if that recognition translates into Heisman talk for Ta’amu!
Season-opener set for September 1
Ole Miss and Texas Tech will kick off at 11:00 a.m. on September 1 in the AdvoCare Texas Kickoff game in NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas.