Heisman Trophy: The prime 25 candidates to win it in 2023

The Heisman Memorial Trophy is school soccer’s best-known and most-followed pageant, a recognition contest that not often awards the game’s most revered trophy to the very best participant within the sport — merely the very best offensive participant within the sport.

The final defender to win the Heisman was Michigan defensive again Charles Woodson, and he needed to go each methods to do it — 43 tackles, seven interceptions, 11 catches for 231 yards and a TD whereas returning punts. He was the epitome of particular, and a rarity, as Heisman voters simply refuse to acknowledge that the very best participant on a soccer subject can play protection.

So that you received’t see any right here. Slightly than to easily proceed raging towards this injustice, I’ll acknowledge how the award is given and never how I would like it to be. Nonetheless, understanding that the Heisman is a recognition contest, permits us to acknowledge that the largest story within the sport is Deion Sanders’ arrival in Colorado.

What Deion Sanders’ transfer to Colorado means

What Deion Sanders' move to Colorado means

RJ Younger shares his ideas on Deion Sanders turning into the brand new head coach at Colorado.

There is presently no greater star within the sport than Coach Prime. And he left little doubt about who’s going to be the Buffaloes’ beginning quarterback in 2023 — none apart from his son, Shedeur Sanders. And by the way in which, he can play.

The youthful Sanders will start his Pac-12 profession after successful two SWAC titles, SWAC Offensive Participant of the 12 months, and the Jerry Rice Award (FCS Freshman of the 12 months). He led Jackson State to its first undefeated common season, and he calls Tom Brady uncle. With the Buffs set to host Lincoln Riley and USC in Boulder subsequent yr, to not point out a season-opening showdown towards School Soccer Playoff-bound TCU, the eyes of the nation will probably be on the play of Sanders — in the event that they aren’t already.

If Sanders can quarterback Colorado to its first convention title in additional than 20 years in a convention that counts CU rival Utah as its two-time defending champion, you received’t need assistance understanding who will win the Heisman. It’ll be Sanders.

1. Colorado QB Shedeur Sanders

Sanders has an opportunity to be essentially the most dynamic Colorado quarterback since Kordell Stewart, and he may additionally profit from having the varsity’s finest all-around participant since Rashaan Salaam on his aspect if Travis Hunter — who has additionally been linked to Florida State — decides to hitch him.

It’s been practically 30 years since Salaam received the 1994 Heisman at Colorado after dashing for greater than 2,000 yards and 24 TDs, and main the Buffaloes to a win towards No. 3-ranked Notre Dame.

2. USC QB Caleb Williams

Any listing of this sort goes to get intense side-eye — if it hasn’t already — if we go a lot additional with out acknowledging that the reigning Heisman winner will return to school subsequent season.

The first USC Heisman winner since Reggie Bush was ready to take action with out even securing his league’s convention title, which leaves room for him to enhance his argument for turning into — Ohio State followers, avert your eyes — simply the second two-time winner in historical past.

With one other 4,000-yard passing efficiency and practically 50 TDs (47 in 2022), Williams has a shot to make historical past if USC can reach successful the Pac-12 title and incomes this system’s first CFP invitation.

3. Michigan QB J.J. McCarthy

The purpose McCarthy is right here and never Donovan Edwards or Blake Corum — if he decides to return to Ann Arbor for the 2023 season — is as a result of it is a quarterback-driven award. It is not simply that every one 4 finalists in 2022 have been quarterbacks, it is {that a} TCU quarterback (Max Duggan) beat out Corum for a finalist spot.

A operating again hasn’t received the award since 2015 (Derrick Henry of Alabama), and simply three have received it since 2000.

Not like most on this listing — together with Williams — McCarthy has but to lose a sport as a beginning quarterback. Successful goes a good distance.

4. Ohio State WR Marvin Harrison, Jr.

Kyle McCord (or Devin Brown) and TreVeyon Henderson might need one thing to say about this. However Harrison, Jr. is the primary Biletnikoff Award finalist at Ohio State since Terry Glenn in 1995. He has the very best likelihood of any returning wideout to win the Heisman since DeVonta Smith and might be OSU’s first since 2006.

Watch: Marvin Harrison Jr. catches 42-yard TD

Watch: Marvin Harrison Jr. catches 42-yard TD

Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud hits Marvin Harrison Jr. for a 42-yard landing towards Michigan earlier this season.

5. Georgia’s beginning QB: Brock Vandagriff, Carson Beck or Gunner Stockton

With respect to Stetson Bennett and what he’s completed — like main UGA to its first nationwide title in 40 years — the Dawgs have constructed a nationwide energy despite the quarterback. The Dawgs are powered by excellent offensive strains and defenses, however the Heisman is basically a quarterback award. When it’s not, it’s largely a operating again award.

Nonetheless, we will’t overlook the beginning quarterback on a nationwide title-caliber staff, and all three competing to guide UGA in 2023 are able to successful the Heisman.

6. Alabama beginning QB: Jalen Milroe or Ty Simpson

Within the Nick Saban period at Alabama, it has by no means paid to wager towards him or the offense he runs. For the reason that emergence of Blake Sims, each Alabama quarterback has benefited from a strong offensive scheme, with Bryce Younger turning into the primary Tide quarterback to win the award.

Whether or not it is Milroe or Simpson within the 2023 QB derby, he’ll get the identical likelihood to play in entrance of a nationwide tv viewers and be given the advantage of the doubt. Milroe seemed shaky in his solely begin this season towards Texas A&M, but when he demonstrates a greater skill to handle the ball, he can contend for the Heisman.

7. Clemson QB Cade Klubnik

Klubnik was greater than credible for Clemson as soon as he was ushered into taking part in for DJ Uiagalelei, a participant nonetheless looking for his 2020 kind.

His 22-for-24 passing efficiency towards North Carolina within the ACC title sport, which included 309 whole yards and two TDs, left little doubt about whose staff the Tigers are actually.

8. Washington QB Michael Penix Jr.

Penix was the nation’s chief in passing offense — greater than 4,300 yards — with 29 TDs and simply seven INTs. When he introduced his return, Huskies followers rejoiced. He has an opportunity to cause them to their first Pac-12 title since 2016 and is their first bona fide star at quarterback since Jake Browning.

Watch: Michael Penix Jr. throws 62-yard laser vs. Oregon

Watch: Michael Penix Jr. throws 62-yard laser vs. Oregon

Michael Penix Jr. delivered when it mattered for Washington, as his 62-yard TD tied the sport towards Oregon earlier this season.

9. Texas QB Quinn Ewers

Though Arch Manning may have one thing to say above this all through the spring and the summer season, the thought is that Ewers will retain his beginning job on the Forty Acres. With Doak Walker Award-winning operating again Bijan Robinson off to the NFL, Texas coach Steve Sarkisian would possibly run extra of the offense by his former five-star quarterback.

With a win for Texas at Alabama subsequent season, Ewers would possibly vault into the highest 5 of this listing simply after Labor Day.

10. Wisconsin RB Braelon Allen

With Luke Fickell as the top coach in Madison, we may see the primary 300-carry season for Allen, which could spell doom for the Massive Ten. Allen has rushed for not less than 1,100 yards in every of his first two seasons with not more than 208 carries in anyone season.

11. Penn State RB Nick Singleton

Singleton is the uncommon operating again who can outshine nearly any quarterback. After dashing for 941 yards and 10 TDs as a real freshman, he’ll doubtless set the desk for the sort of season Drew Allar — or whoever wins the following PSU QB battle — might need in a stacked Massive Ten.

12. North Carolina QB Drake Maye

Maye completed this season with greater than 4,200 passing yards, 36 TDs and 10 INTs, and led UNC to an ACC title sport look in his first yr as a starter. With former UNC offensive coordinator Phil Longo off to Wisconsin, although, it stays to be seen if the offense he’ll run in 2023 will permit him the prospect to place up gaudy numbers once more.

13. QB DJ Uiagalelei

At Clemson, Uiagalelei started his profession as the person almost certainly to problem Younger for QB1 within the 2023 NFL Draft. Since then, he’s solely flashed his potential just a few instances over the previous three years. Now, together with his identify within the switch portal, the wager is he’s too nice a participant to low cost. If he finds the correct program, the correct match, look out for what might be the very best comeback season of 2023.

14. Florida State QB Jordan Travis

Travis was an excellent dual-threat quarterback in 2022, with greater than 3,100 whole yards and 29 TDs with simply 4 INTs. All three of FSU’s losses have been to ranked ACC groups, and the Seminoles are a menace to finish up within the ACC title sport in 2023. However nobody will overlook them subsequent season after they pulled off a win towards SEC West champ LSU.

15. Ole Miss RB Quishon Judkins

Judkins was the breakout participant of the yr. With former five-star operating again Zach Evans sharing the room with him, Judkins nonetheless managed to hurry for 1,476 yards and set the varsity report for dashing TDs in a season with 16.

16. Notre Dame RB Audric Estime

Like Singleton, Estime has an opportunity to face out early in 2023 whereas ND establishes a quarterback — maybe Tyler Buchner getting back from damage. He can start robust and maybe put ND again within the race for the CFP. Nonetheless, he’ll have stiff competitors in his personal operating again room with Logan Diggs. With a September matchup towards Ohio State in 2023, Estime may have an opportunity to vault into the nationwide highlight early.

17. Arkansas QB KJ Jefferson

The Razorbacks appear like a staff able to successful the SEC West when Jefferson is wholesome. In simply 10 video games in 2022, he put up greater than 2,800 whole yards, 29 whole TDs and threw simply 4 INTs. With losses to the protection that embrace coordinator Barry Odom, linebackers Bumper Pool and Drew Sanders, in addition to wideout Jadon Haselwood on the offense, they’ll want him to shine in 2023.

18. Kansas State QB Will Howard

If Deuce Vaughn returns for his senior season, he may usurp his beginning quarterback. He is already mentioned he’ll play within the Sugar Bowl towards Alabama, and that is a boon for the Wildcats. Since stepping in as quarterback for injured Adrian Martinez towards TCU on Oct. 22, Howard has received each sport he is performed in, together with handing TCU its solely loss and securing the Massive 12 Championship towards a CFP staff.

Watch: Will Howard throws deep strike

Watch: Will Howard throws deep strike

Kansas State quarterback Will Howard throws a 42-yard landing cross to tight finish Sammy Wheeler towards Kansas this season.

19. LSU QB Garrett Nussmeier

Nussmeier leaped onto this listing after lighting up the defending nationwide champion Bulldogs within the SEC Championship Recreation. In aid of starter Jayden Daniels, Nussmeier threw for 294 yards and two TDs with a decide towards Kirby Good’s protection.

20. QB Devin Leary

Like Uiagalelei, Leary is simply too nice a expertise to low cost — irrespective of the place he performs subsequent season. He left NC State after breaking Philip Rivers’ single-season report for TDs in a season. After all, his inventory may rise if he finally ends up at a program able to benefiting from his prodigious talent.

21. Utah RB Ja’Quinden Jackson

With quarterback Cam Rising off to the NFL, it’d make sense to focus the offense on operating the ball. Jackson has been extraordinarily productive when referred to as on at Utah. After starting his profession as a quarterback at Texas, he transitioned to operating again, the place he averaged 6.9 yards per rush in 2022 for the Utes.

22. TCU QB Chandler Morris

Morris beat out Davey O’Brien Award winner Duggan for the beginning job in 2022. But when Duggan returns for one more season, he’ll doubtless vault to the entrance of the Heisman dialog. Duggan would not be the primary Massive 12 participant to complete the season as a Heisman finalist solely to win the award the next yr. Former Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield did the identical in 2016 and 2017.

23 Iowa QB Cade McNamara

The Iowa Hawkeyes may finest be described as Georgia above the Mason-Dixon Line. They’ve performed excellent protection — even producing their first Butkus Award winner in 2022 — for consecutive seasons however have been held again by their quarterback play and offense. If McNamara can lead a second program to its first-ever CFP look, it will be somewhat tough to not envision him successful an invite to New York subsequent December.

24. Oklahoma QB Dillon Gabriel

Gabriel flashed the shape he confirmed in his first two seasons at UCF throughout his first season in Norman. If he can play to his skill for a whole season, there’s no purpose to not consider he may contend for the Heisman in 2023.

25. Tennessee QB Joe Milton

If Milton exhibits out towards ACC champion Clemson within the Orange Bowl, that might be his final sport in school. Nonetheless, he has a yr of eligibility left, and with Hendon Hooker off to the NFL, Milton would vault into the Heisman dialog on his skill, the energy of the UT offense and Josh Heupel’s skill to develop nice quarterback play courting again to his days as offensive coordinator Oklahoma.

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RJ Younger is a nationwide school soccer author and analyst for FOX Sports activities and the host of the podcast “The Number One College Football Show.” Comply with him on Twitter at @RJ_Young and subscribe to “The RJ Young Show” on YouTube.

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