Caleb Williams won the Heisman on Saturday night and will likely be the favorite heading into 2023. The other two invitees all likely to be heading for the NFL with Stetson Bennett out of eligibility and C.J. Stroud projected to be a top pick in the NFL Draft. Max Duggan can still use his Covid year if he chooses to return for one more season. For the sake of discussion, Duggan will not be included on this list. Michael Penix Jr and Drake Maye are the only other players from the top 10 expected to return next season.
Caleb Williams (USC Quarterback) – The returning Heisman winner is going to be the center of all the hype this off-season. The obvious competition does not play at any high profile schools and the remaining primary contenders are inexperienced. Williams will enter his third season under Lincoln Riley and will be looking to lead USC to a Pac-12 Championship and appearance in the College Football Playoffs. Returning winners are always viewed under a microscope so he will need to play nearly perfect in order to win next year’s Heisman Trophy.
Drake Maye (North Carolina Quarterback) – Drake Maye was a trending name among potential Heisman contenders before North Carolina lost their final three games of the season. Maye announced he would return to North Carolina next season after speculation he may enter the transfer portal. He registered 4,115 yards, 35 touchdowns and seven interceptions as a redshirt freshman. Maye loses his top receiver in Josh Downs which will require him to find a new top target. Maye will likely need to win the ACC in order to have a legitimate shot at the Heisman next season.
Micheal Penix Jr (Washington Quarterback) – Michael Penix Jr flew under the radar for much of the season after transferring from Indiana last season. Penix threw for at least 298 yards in 11 of Washington’s 12 games this season. An early season loss to Arizona State forced Washington to miss the Pac-12 Championship or Penix may have been taken more seriously as a contender. Penix announced he was returning to Washington next season and will be a trendy pick especially with an impending trip to USC next year.
Kyle McCord/Devin Brown (Ohio State Quarterback) – Ryan Day will be making a decision this off-season regarding his quarterback. Devin Brown and Kyle McCord will battle for the starting position and the winner will likely be in contention for the Heisman by the end of the season. Ohio State’s offense will retain all of its key pieces at wide receiver and running back giving the new starter plenty of options. Day’s offense allows quarterbacks to thrive and put up stat lines worthy of Heisman contention.
Donovan Edwards (Michigan Running Back) – Blake Corum had a phenomenal season for Michigan and the offense should be able to replicate his production next year. Donovan Edwards had a break out game against Ohio State rushing for more than 200 yards in the rivalry game. Harbaugh has leaned on his running backs the past few seasons with Corum and Hassan Haskins. Edwards is likely to be the focal part of the offense with JJ McCarthy also playing an expanded role. If Michigan is going to win a third straight Big Ten Championship, Edwards will need to have a strong season.
Marvin Harrison Jr (Ohio State Wide Receiver) – Wide receivers always have a harder time winning the Heisman because some times they face obstacles outside of their control. They still need a good quarterback to get them the ball but the quarterback cannot be good enough to win the award. Harrison has proven himself as one of the best receivers in the country and will be playing with a different quarterback next year. If Kyle McCord wins the job, look for Harrison’s numbers to explode. McCord and Harrison were high school teammates and have been playing together for years. McCord is likely to throw to Harrison at every opportunity he has next year.
Cade Klubnik (Clemson Quarterback) – Cade Klubnik was the backup quarterback for most of the season but he entered the ACC Championship and fully entrenched himself as the starter. Klubnik went 20 of 24 for 279 yards and one touchdown against North Caroina. DJ Uiagalelei is transferring out of the program allowing Klubnik to spend all off-season preparing as the starter. Clemson will be considered one of the favorites to win the ACC once against next season. The former five star prospect will have an opportunity to become the first Clemson player to ever win the Heisman, a feat not even Deshaun Watson and Trevor Lawrence were able to accomplish.
Jordan Travis (Florida State Quarterback) – Florida State appears to be on the right track and Jordan Travis has been an integral part of the rebuild. Travis had a strong season throwing 22 touchdowns and only four interceptions. Florida State finished 9-3 with all of their losses coming to opponents who were ranked at the time of the matchup. The Seminoles open the season with LSU once again which will give Travis an opportunity to make a statement early in the season. He will need to improve his passing numbers as he still threw for just 2,796 yards this year.
Nick Singleton (Penn State Running Back) – Penn State found the freshman phenom with Nick Singleton this year. Singleton finished his freshman season proving to be a home run threat rushing for 941 yards and 10 touchdowns. He also averaged 6.3 yards per carry this season. Singleton’s biggest area of improvement heading into year two will need to be consistency. He averaged less than 4.0 yards per carry in three games including against Ohio State and Michigan. Even if he does improve, his biggest obstruction may come from his own team. Kaytron Allen also rushed for 830 yards and nine touchdowns. A running back splitting carries does not translate into a Heisman winner.
Brock Bowers (Georgia Tight End) – No tight end has ever won the Heisman but Brock Bowers could be the first one ever. Bowers has been dominant over his first two seasons at Georgia and is almost guaranteed to be a first round pick after his junior season. He has totaled 1,757 yards from scrimmage and 23 touchdowns over the past two seasons. In order for Bowers to be considered he will need to finish among the national leaders in receiving yards meaning he needs to cross 1,000 yards. Scoring touchdowns is going to be just as important where he will likely need at least 12 touchdowns. A tight end winning the Heisman is usually outlandish but Bowers could be the player to make a case.
Quinn Ewers (Texas Quarterback) – Quinn Ewers was a wild card this year after entering the season with more hype than any Texas quarterback in recent memory. The former number one overall player started the season hot and almost beat Alabama before suffering an injury against the Crimson Tide. Ewers came back a month later and threw four touchdowns in a beat down of Oklahoma. Two weeks later he threw three interceptions and completed less than 40% of his passes against Oklahoma State. Ewers continued to struggle down the stretch and a break to refresh is needed for him. He has a live arm and will be able to learn from his mistakes next year. Ewers battled through adversity and should rebound in a big way in 2023.
Others: Cameron Ward (Washington State Quarterback), Jalen Milroe/Ty Simpson (Alabama Quarterback), Braelon Allen (Wisconsin Running Back), Devin Leary (Quarterback, Destination Unknown), Harold Perkins (LSU Linebacker), Quinshon Judkins (Ole Miss Running Back), Joe Milton (Tennessee), Spencer Sanders (Quarterback, Destination Unknown), Jalon Daniels (Kansas Quarterback)
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