According to odds-maker Bovada, Mike Davis has 15/1 odds to win the Heisman Trophy next season. That's good for sixth behind Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota, Braxton Miller, T.J. Yeldon, and Bryce Petty. It's also good for the second most-likely runningback behind Yeldon.
What are Davis's chances of actually winning the award? Not great, if recent history is any indication. Whereas it was common in the 70s and 80s for workhorse tailbacks such as Tony Dorsett, Herschel Walker, and Bo Jackson to win the award, that hasn't been the case lately. Since 1999 when Ron Dayne won the award, a QB has won it every year other than 2009, when Mark Ingram won it. My unscientific assumption is that whereas in the heyday of the workhorse back many teams placed great backs at the centerpiece of offenses run out of the I formation, more recently the trend has been either towards high-flying passing attacks where quarterbacks and receivers do an offense's heavy lifting through the air, or spread-option attacks where quarterbacks feature prominently in a team's running game in addition to gaining yards through the air. This has led to the most impressive individual performers of recent years being quarterbacks, with tailbacks taking a bit of a backseat.
Still, I wouldn't count Davis out. Steve Spurrier has shown his willingness to rely on his tailbacks in recent years. While Carolina will field a more pass-friendly offense next year if Dylan Thompson is the starter, Dylan himself is unlikely to be featured in the running game like Connor Shaw was, which may lead to more carries for Davis. Davis also showed a penchant for catching the ball out of the backfield last season, so he may benefit from increased focus on the passing game.
The main things Davis needs to improve on? Stay healthy, of course. Davis's production dropped off at the end of the year, in large part due to nagging injuries. Second of all, hold onto the ball. Fumbles were the big knock against Davis this year. Davis's campaign will also be helped if he can hold off Brandon Wilds, David Williams, and Shon Carson and get the lion's share of the carries, but that's something that will also be an issue for Yeldon at Alabama.