College Football Starts Next Week, Let’s Take A Peek At Some Heisman Contenders

We are a week away from the seven-game slate to kick off the 2023 college football season while our handful of Heisman winners in the NFL are just now entering Week 2 of the preseason.

First, the college scene.

Of course, 2022 Heisman winning quarterback Caleb Williams returns as a second-year starter for USC. Per the rules laid out by the Heisman Trophy Trust (just kidding), we cannot mention Williams without also noting he has the chance to become just the second Heisman Trophy winner to win a second statue.  

Ohio State great Archie Griffin, meanwhile, is closing in on 50 years of being the only two-time winner (1974-75). That’s a good run, but will it come to an end this season?

Williams’ Trojans are part of the small slate of games on Aug. 26 when he leads USC in an evening contest against San Jose State.

Williams is one of four returners among the 2022 Heisman Top 10 vote-getters, a list that also includes seventh-place Michigan senior running back Blake Corum, eighth-place Washington senior QB Michael Penix Jr. and 10th-place North Carolina sophomore quarterback Drake Maye.

All are getting tremendous Heisman love heading into the season from the college football media world at large, but any list of potential 2023 Heisman winners is a crowded field with many more names.

LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels and Florida State quarterback Jordan Travis are both high on many lists and the pair square off in marquee Sunday night primetime matchup on Sept. 3.

Alabama has seemingly been in the thick of every Heisman race for about as far back as we can remember, or maybe it just seems that way because they’ve won four times since 2009.

Coach Nick Saban has yet to announce a quarterback starter to take over for 2021 Heisman winner Bryce Young, but whoever gets the nod instantly moves into the Heisman mix. The Crimson Tide have a big matchup with Texas, and Heisman candidate Quinn Ewers, on Sept. 9, a showcase for sure.

Oregon QB Bo Nix made some big waves in his first year in Eugene in 2022. The Ducks are all in on Nix in 2023, unveiling, this week, a huge painted banner in New York City’s Midtown reminiscent of what Oregon did for Joey Harrington in 2001. Harrington finished fourth in the voting that year. 

Any QB at Notre Dame has a Fighting chance and this year’s Irish signal caller is Wake Forest transfer Sam Hartman, who has already been in the Heisman talk the past two years.

Ohio State standout wideout Marvin Harrison Jr. was getting a good look last year and has a chance to follow 2020 winner DeVonta Smith as a winner at receiver. 

Georgia tight end Brock Bowers and Ohio State running back TreVeyon Henderson were both in media top 10s last year and could easily make a run in 2023.

The Georgia Bulldogs are ranked No. 1 again. New QB Carson Beck takes over for 2022 Heisman finalist Stetson Bennett and will have a big platform if he takes off.

The names don’t stop there, but we’re catching our breath and we’ll wait for a few games to be played before we continue the speculation.

In Heisman-in-the-NFL news, 2021 Heisman winner Bryce Young makes his second preseason start tonight (Aug. 18) for the Carolina Panthers. The game against the New York Giants is in the Big Apple, home to where Young joined the Heisman Fraternity.

2020 Heisman winner DeVonta Smith didn’t play in Philadelphia’s Thursday game yesterday, but after some scrimmages against the Browns earlier in the week, he’s earning high praise. Per this story in, Smith was covered during workouts by Brown Pro Bowler Darius Slay, who later said: “I’ve been telling him since he’s been a rookie: He’s way ahead of his class when it comes to his route-running ability. I told him the other day, ‘Man, you’re a guy that I never seen before that can adjust like that in the middle of pressing, hard press, motor catching, all of that.’ He got the body and control to adjust to anything. One time, I think we did a one-on-one drill, he ran a seven cut. I covered it very well. But then he just acrobatic catch it behind. He got all the tools.”

2019 winner Joe Burrow is still recovering from a calf injury in fall camp, but is making strides toward a return.

Baker Mayfield’s QB competition in Tampa Bay is still ongoing as he battles for the Buccaneer starting job with 2020 Heisman finalist Kyle Trask. He’s back in action Saturday.