Heisman 2023: Maye? Harrison Jr.? Who challenges Williams?

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North Carolina quarterback Drake Maye (10) runs with the ball against Clemson during the Atlantic Coast Conference championship NCAA college football game on Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Jacob Kupferman)

NEW YORK – After Caleb Williams won the Heisman Trophy, becoming the eighth player to do so for Southern California, he talked about how cool it will be to have his jersey retired at the school one day and to be able to take his place with other USC greats.

“But as of right now, I got a game in three weeks or so and getting ready to prepare for them, and I got a whole 'nother year or two into a USC,” Williams said.

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Barring some unforeseen circumstance, Williams will be the eighth Heisman Trophy winner since 2000 to play college football the following season.

None has come particularly close to winning another.

Maybe Williams is the one to break the trend and become just the second two-time Heisman winner, joining Ohio State's Archie Griffin (1974-75).

Williams on Saturday night became the sixth sophomore to win the Heisman and the second in a row after Alabama's Bryce Young last year.

This season, Young was pretty great again. But he missed some time with an injury, didn't have the usual stable of star receivers afforded to Crimson Tide quarterbacks in recent years and ended up finishing sixth in the Heisman voting as Alabama went 10-2.

Expect Young and two-time Heisman finalist C.J. Stroud of Ohio State to move on to the NFL next.

TCU quarterback Max Duggan, the runner-up to Williams, might take advantage of a fifth year after a breakout senior season — though it will be difficult for Duggan and the Horned Frogs to recreate this magical season.

Who else will challenge Williams for the Heisman? Here are a few guesses:

Drake Maye, QB, North Carolina

There already is a debate among NFL draftniks about who will be the No. 1 overall pick in 2024: Williams or Maye? Could be a great Heisman race between the two as well next season. Maye and the Tar Heels stumbled to the finish of this season, but he still ended the regular season second in the country in total offense at 367 yards per game.

Marvin Harrison Jr., WR, Ohio State

The Buckeyes likely will be breaking in a new quarterback next season, but Harrison should help make the transition relatively smooth. In his first season as a starter, the sophomore has caught 72 passes for 1,157 yards and 12 touchdowns. He probably would be a first-round draft pick in the next draft if he was eligible.

Donovan Edwards, RB, Michigan

Michigan seems to be the one school capable of producing a Heisman contender at running back these days. Edwards showed late in the season he could be both a workhorse and a home-run hitter, stepping in for the injured Blake Corum with 401 yards on 47 carries against Ohio State and in the Big Ten title game.

Teammate quarterback J.J. McCarthy also could emerge has a Heisman contender, but Michigan loves its smash-mouth style.

Michael Penix Jr., QB, Washington and Bo Nix, QB, Oregon

The Pacific Northwest rivals are both coming off great seasons after transferring into the Pac-12. Penix, who leads the nation in passing yards per game (363), already has announced he'll be back, and Nix seems to be leaning in that direction. Nix threw 27 touchdown passes and ran for 14 scores.

Quinn Ewers, QB, Texas

The highly touted former five-star recruit had a mediocre first season as the Longhorns' starter, throwing 14 touchdowns passes and six interceptions in nine games while completing 56.6% of his passes. Arch Manning, the nephew of Peyton and Eli Manning, arrives in Austin soon to push Ewers, who still has three seasons of eligibility left. The idea that Ewers could take a huge step forward in Year 2 can't be dismissed. Same goes for Clemson's Cade Klubnik and Texas A&M's Conner Weigman.


Follow Ralph D. Russo at https://twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP and listen at http://www.appodcasts.com


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