2022-23 Heisman Watchlist


Heisman Trophy contenders are here. I am very excited for this upcoming college football season. There are many players who are deserving of the Heisman and this is MY shortlist of players to watch. I should also note that the list below is not in order of who I think will win. Now with that being said, let’s get into the list. 


C.J. Stroud – Ohio St. QB


C.J. Stroud is my personal favorite to win the Heisman Trophy this upcoming season. Last season, Stroud racked up 4,435 passing yards, 44 touchdowns and only 6 interceptions. A lot of this production is credited to his incredible receiver corp that he had last season. These players include Garrett Wilson, Chris Olave, Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Jeremy Ruckert. Although only Smith-Njigba remains, I think Stroud will be just as impressive because he doesn’t have those safety nets. When looking at Ohio St.’s upcoming schedule, I think it is set up for Stroud to prove himself. Their schedule is filled with a mix of elite defenses as well as teams he can boost his stats against. If Stroud is able to play his cards correctly, he will undoubtedly be the best QB in the nation.


Bryce Young – Alabama QB


Going into this season, Bryce Young is looking to win the Heisman in back-to-back years. Last season, Bryce Young was ranked 2nd in passing yards with 4,872 but was still behind Bailey Zappe. During this season, he also racked up 47 touchdowns and 7 interceptions which led him to winning the Heisman. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t skeptical of Young for this upcoming season. Although he has the arm talent to make a run for the Heisman again, I think his production will regress.

Last season, Young was sacked 39 times behind a very good offensive line. Now that he no longer has his blindside protector in Evan Neal, I think that number could increase. I also question his poise and patience in the pocket because of the amount of times he was sacked last season. For a player who is known for his lack of size, he needs to work on his pocket awareness and mobility. If he is able to do this AND be just as productive this season, he could win the Heisman again. This puts him in the conversation with the Hesiman Trophy contenders.


Caleb Williams – USC QB


Last season as a freshman, Caleb Williams exceeded expectations. Due to Spencer Rattler starting out the season at QB, Williams only played 500 snaps and only 268 snaps were passing. But it is safe to say that he made those snaps count by racking up 1,912 yards and 21 touchdowns. I should add that 1,356 of these yards were in his first career starts. With Lincoln Riley leaving Oklahoma for USC in November, I was not shocked to see Williams went with him. Honestly, I think that the stars are aligned for Williams to be in contention for the Heisman this year. Lincoln Riley runs an Air Raid offense which allows the QB to throw for intermediate to long gains. This is the offense that was ran at USC prior to Riley arriving. This means that William’s receivers will be comfortable under this offense. Hopefully, this will maximize everyone’s productivity.  


Bijan Robinson – Texas RB


Bijan Robinson is one of the most intriguing prospects in the nation. Last season, he played a total of 512 snaps and only 198 of those snaps were run plays. But, he made the most of the opportunities by racking up 1,127 yards and 11 touchdowns. He also had 295 receiving yards and 4 receiving touchdowns. I am very impressed by Robinson’s game because he is very versatile and can fit any offense. I am very intrigued to see what Robinson and Quinn Ewers can do together this season. The offense should start off very run-heavy to ensure that Ewers is comfortable. After a few games under this scheme, I would not be shocked if they transition to a pass heavy offense. This would allow Robinson to act as a safety valve for Ewers as well as being a top running back. 


Will Anderson Jr. – Alabama EDGE


In this entire list, I only have one defender listed and that player is Will Anderson Jr. Last season, Anderson Jr. had 101 tackles (57 solo) and 17.5 sacks. He was the nation’s sack leader but did not have as much spotlight as he deserved. This was because Aidan Hutchinson was just behind him in 2nd place. But, now that the spotlight is on Anderson, I expect him to put on a show. If he is able to step on the field with the same amount of production that he had last season, he could win the Heisman. Unfortunately, he has to share the spotlight with another Heisman candidate Bryce Young. But, don’t be surprised if by the end of the season Anderson Jr. has more hype than Young. 


Braelon Allen – Wisconsin RB


Braelon Allen was one of the most electrifying running backs in the nation last year. He has a tremendous blend of size and speed that allowed him to gain lots of recognition. He stands at 6’2” and weighs 238 lbs. and has a projected 40 time of 4.55 seconds. Last season as a true freshman, he racked up 1,268 yards and 12 rushing touchdowns. Keep in mind, he was able to produce these stats as a 17-year-old. Now that he has one year under his belt, I expect him to be a top player in the Big-10. Since he has been so successful, I think Wisconsin will play a run-heavy offense. This would allow him to maximize his snaps and production as well as allowing him to make a run for the Heisman. 


Jaxon Smith-Njigba – Ohio St. WR


Smith-Njigba is one of my favorite players in the nation because his production is off the charts. Last season, he racked up 1,606 yards and 9 touchdowns in 95 receptions. This included his record-breaking performance in the Rose Bowl against Utah. In this game alone, he had 347 receiving yards and 3 touchdowns. It is safe to say that Smith-Njigba is one of C.J. Stroud’s favorite targets and that will remain the case. Now that Wilson, Olave and Ruckert are in the NFL, I can see Smith-Njigna racking up 100 receptions. In my opinion this would make him a frontrunner for the Heisman Trophy. If he doesn’t win the Heisman, with this production, he will likely win the Biletnikoff award


Dillon Gabriel – Oklahoma QB


Dillon Gabriel has spent the last three seasons at Central Florida where he played very well. But, last season he did not start much of the season. According to PFF, he only played a total of 214 snaps and threw for 814 yards. But, the two seasons prior he racked up a total of 7,223 yards and 61 passing touchdowns. I was shocked to see that Gabriel decided to transfer to Oklahoma instead of a smaller school. But, he will be surrounded by lots of talented players and coaches that will help him dominate. I can see Gabriel starting where he left off after his first two seasons and throwing for around 3,500 yards. If he is able to do so against top tier talent, he could make a run for the Heisman. 


Quinn Ewers – Texas QB


Quinn Ewers is the biggest question mark out of all the players on this watchlist. Coming out of High School, Ewers was the number one recruit according to 247sports. He started his college career at Ohio State where he sat behind C.J. Stroud. After sitting behind Stroud for an entire season and looking like that was going to happen again, he entered the transfer portal. Once he entered the portal, a lot of people expected him to go to Texas. This was the case because he went to high school in Southlake, Texas.

Although we don’t have any college stats to look at, we can look at his high school stats. According to MaxPreps, the only stats recorded were from his sophomore and junior seasons. In these two seasons, he racked up a total of 6,445 yards and 73 touchdowns. Hopefully, Ewers enters this season with the same amount of productivity and grit he played with in high school. If he is able to do so, he could end up being the best quarterback in the Big 12. 


Tyler Van Dyke – Miami QB


Out of all the quarterbacks in the nation last year, one of my favorites to watch was Van Dyke. Last season, he played a total of 635 snaps after winning the starting spot over D’Eriq King. In those snaps, he racked up 2,931 yards and 25 touchdowns. In my Way Too Early 2023 Mock Draft, I mentioned how high I am on Van Dyke. I mentioned that he is my third favorite QB in the upcoming draft class. I am excited to see what he can do this upcoming season. If he steps on the field and continue his production from where he left off, he will be a contender.