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Heisman Watch 2023: Best Heisman Trophy candidates 2023, 2022 Heisman results

Heisman Watch
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

It’s officially time for Heisman Watch 2023, evaluating who will win the Heisman Trophy in the 2023 college football season. Stay tuned for the upcoming year as we evaluate the leading Heisman candidates, track performances and so much more.

USC Trojans quarterback Caleb Williams won the 2022 Heisman Trophy and he will be the favorite to win it next season. However, there are plenty of outstanding candidates who will challenge him for the award and there are always breakout players each season.

Related: Most Heisman Trophy winners by school

Let’s dive into our favorite Heisman Watch candidates in 2023.

Heisman Trophy candidates 2023

Caleb Williams, QB, USC Trojans

NCAA Football: Cotton Bowl-Tulane at Southern California
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Caleb Williams is the favorite to win the 2023 Heisman Trophy, to the surprise of no one. While history suggests it will be another player hosting the coveted trophy at the Heisman ceremony next December, Williams is in a great position to repeat.

While USC loses Jordan Addison, it welcomes new offensive weapons that can thrive in this system. More importantly, Williams will be in his third season with Lincoln Riley. Plus, USC’s defense is going to require a lot of shootouts in 2023.

Drake Maye, QB, North Carolina Tar Heels

NCAA Football: Holiday Bowl-North Carolina at Oregon
Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

North Carolina Tarheels quarterback Drake Maye landed on the Heisman Watch out of nowhere this past season. The freshman finished with 4,321 passing yards, 45 total touchdowns and nearly hit 700 rushing yards in his first full season. He loses wide receivers Josh Downs and Antoine Green, but he proved that he is a bonafide star at quarterback. While there might be some growing pains with the staff changes, Maye should thrive in Chip Lindsey’s offense once he settles in.

Blake Corum, RB, Michigan Wolverines

NCAA Football: Fiesta Bowl-Texas Christian at Michigan
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

A Heisman Trophy finalist before his season-ending knee injury, Michigan Wolverines running back Blake Corum made the stunning decision to return for the 2023 season. While there is a strong likelihood that Jim Harbaugh will be gone, Corum is well-positioned to repeat his success from a season ago.

The 5-foot-8 running back should be the focal point of Michigan’s offense once again, putting him in a position for 1,500 scrimmage yards and 20 total touchdowns. If he can accomplish that and delivers an iconic performance at home over Ohio State next fall, Corum has a shot to become the first running back to win the Heisman Trophy since Derrick Henry (2015).

Here is our early list of the favorites to win the Heisman Trophy 2023. We’ll provide individual breakdowns for each of the players this off-season.

  1. Caleb Williams, QB, USC Trojans
  2. Drake Maye, QB, North Carolina Tar Heels
  3. Blake Corum, RB, Michigan Wolverines
  4. Bo Nix, QB, Oregon Ducks
  5. Michael Penix Jr, QB, Washington Huskies
  6. Jordan Travis, QB, Florida State Seminoles
  7. Marvin Harrison Jr, WR, Ohio State Buckeyes
  8. Brock Bowers, TE, Georgia Bulldogs
  9. Braelon Allen, RB, Wisconsin Badgers
  10. Quinn Ewers, QB, Texas Longhorns
  11. J.J. McCarthy, QH, Michigan Wolverines
  12. J.T. Tuimoloau, DL, Ohio State Buckeyes
  13. Harold Perkins, EDGE, LSU Tigers

Has anyone won 2 Heismans?

Archie Griffin is the only player to win the Heisman twice, achieving it with the Ohio State Buckeyes. Griffin is also the only player to win the Heisman in consecutive years, earning the award in 1974 and 1975.

Heading into 2023, Williams will have a great opportunity to make college football history. He’ll be the early favorite to win the Heisman next season, especially in his third year in Riley’s offense.

Why Caleb Williams won the Heisman Trophy 2022

NCAA Football: PAC-12 Football Championship-Southern California at Utah
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Caleb Williams won the 2022 Heisman Trophy. The USC Trojans quarterback entered with the third-best Heisman odds this year, entering his second year in the Lincoln Riley offense, playing against Pac-12 defenses with Jordan Addison as his No. 1 receiver.

Despite avoiding multiple bad performances – something that can’t be said for C.J. Stroud – Williams’ chances of winning the Heisman Trophy weren’t always promising. Both Stroud and Hendon Hooker led the Heisman Watch at various points, but the star in Los Angeles made a late run that set him apart.

QB RatingTD-INTComp. %YPAPass YardsRush YardsRush TD
Caleb Williams stats 2022

Williams’ worst performance of the season came in a win against Oregon State back on Sep. 24. Facing a defense that finished the regular season allowing just 198.7 pass ypg in its last three games and ranked 13th in lowest average quarterback rating allowed (115.8), USC’s entire offense struggled on the road. The Trojans’ quarterback had more incompletions (20) than completed passes (16) and he finished with a 65.0 QBR.

There are a variety of reasons why Williams will win the Heisman Trophy. He far exceeded anything Stroud did on the ground (74 rushing yards), all while recording more passing yards with a superior TD-INT ratio. It’s also important to consider how Stroud fared later in the year.

  • C.J. Stroud stats (November): 135.8 QB rating, 8-2 TD-INT, 57.6% completion rate

As for Max Duggan, the TCU Horned Frogs senior quarterback finished the regular season with an ESPN QBR (79.7) that fell 7.1 points behind Williams (86.8). Duggan also cooled off as the season unfolded with his completion rate dropping from 77% in September to 65% in October and November. Combined with the dip in quarterback rating and yards per attempt, mainly this past month (162.0, 7.7 ypa), and he was destined to be nothing more than a finalist.

Finally, Heisman voters think about narrative when picking their winner. Before Williams arrived at USC, the Trojans went 3-6 in 2021 and hadn’t experienced an eight-win season since 2019. A sleeping giant had finally awoken, with Williams ending USC’s woes since Pete Carroll left.

That’s why Caleb Williams is your Heisman Trophy winner.

Sportsnaut’s Heisman Trophy ballot

Here is Sportsnaut’s final Heisman Trophy ballot following the conclusion of conference championship weekend.

Top 5 Heisman candidates

RankPlayer2022 stats
1Caleb Williams, QB, USC4,075 pas yards, 37-4 TD-INT, 86.5 QBR, 66.1% completion, 9.1 yards per attempt, 10 rush TD
2Max Duggan, QB, TCU3,321 pass yards, 30-4 TD-INT, 80.2 QBR, 64.9% completion, 9.0 yards per attempt, 6 rush TD
3Hendon Hooker, QB, Tennessee89.6 QBR, 3,135 pass yards, 27-2 TD-INT, 69.6% completion, 430 rush yards, 5 TDs
4CJ Stroud, QB, Ohio State3,340 pass yards, 37-6 TD-INT, 87.6 QBR, 66.2% completion, 9.4 yards per attempt, 11-1 record
5Blake Corum, RB, Michigan1,543 scrimmage yards, 19 total touchdowns
6Jalen Carter, DL, Georgia7 TFLs, 3 sacks, 2 FF, No. 1 run defense in college football (77 ypg allowed)
7Stetson Bennett, QB, Georgia3,425 pass yards, 20-6 TD-INT, 86.3 QBR, 68.1% completion, 8.7 yards per attempt, 7 rush TD
8Michael Penix Jr, QB, Washington4,354 pass yards, 29-7 TD-INT, 81.8 QBR, 66% completion, 8.7 yards per attempt, 4 rush TD

Heisman Trophy FAQ: Everything you need to know

How many Heisman voters are there?

There are 870 media members, living Heisman winners and a collective fan vote to determine who wins the Heisman Trophy. Voters aren’t allowed to reveal who they voted for until after the Heisman Ceremony, which airs on ESPN at 8 PM ET.

Heisman vote margins: Who won the Heisman by the most votes?

USC Trojans running back OJ Simpson received the most Heisman votes ever, taking home 855 in 1968. Meanwhile, LSU Tigers quarterback Joe Burrow has the largest percentage of Heisman votes.

Most first-place Heisman votes

YearPlayer1st Place Votes
1968O.J. Simpson, RB, USC855
2019Joe Burrow, QB, LSU841
2006Troy Smith, QB, Ohio State801
2014Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon788
1993Charlie Ward, QB, Florida State740
2017Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma732
2010Cam Newton, QB, Auburn729

Largest Heisman margin of victory

YearPlayer1st Place Votes
2019Joe Burrow, QB, LSU93.8%
2006Troy Smith, QB, Ohio State91.62%
2014Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon90.92%
2017Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma86%
1998Ricky Williams, RB, Texas85.23%
1993Charlie Ward, QB, Florida State83.79%
2021Bryce Young, QB, Alabama83%

Heisman Trophy results 2022

Here are the 2022 Heisman Trophy results. Further below, you can find an early look at our 2023 Heisman candidates.

Player:1st Place:2nd Place:3rd Place:TOTAL:
Caleb Williams, QB, USC544168632,031
Max Duggan, QB, TCU1883571421,420
C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State37119190539
Stetson Bennett, QB, Georgia3665111349
Hendon Hooker, QB, Tennessee174781226
Bryce Young, QB, Alabama172834141
Blake Corum, RB, Michigan82551125
Michael Penix Jr, QB, Washington92047114
Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas4123975
Drake Maye, QB, North Carolina362142

2021 Heisman Trophy voting results

Here are the 2021 Heisman voting results.

Player:1st Place:2nd Place:3rd Place:TOTAL:
Bryce Young, QB, Alabama684107452,311
Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan78273174954
Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh28175197631
C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State12118127399
Will Anderson, EDGE, Alabama317974325
Kenneth Walker III, RB, Michigan State185385245
Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss103256150
Desmond Ridder, QB, Cincinnati5153681
Jordan Davis, DL, Georgia9151875
Breece Hall, RB, Iowa State01717

With 83% of the total possible points, Bryce Young finished with the seventh-highest total in Heisman Trophy voting history.