Who will win the Heisman Trophy for 2023?

As we near the end of the college football season, the Heisman Trophy finalists were announced earlier this week. The likes of legendary running backs Barry Sanders and Bo Jackson have lifted the prestigious trophy, to the current crop of stars including Lamar Jackson, Joe Burrow and DeVonta Smith.

Last year saw USC quarterback Caleb Williams add his name to the list and despite another great season on the West Coast, Williams did not make the final cut for this year’s award. The ceremony will take place this Saturday 9th December at 8pm ET (1am GMT) with one of the four finalists taking home the Heisman Trophy.

Let’s take a closer look at those four finalists.

Jayden Daniels, QB, LSU

First up is the LSU star Jayden Daniels who has been out of this world in the 2023 season. He has led his team to a 9-3 record and the 13th seed in the CFB rankings. On New Year’s Day they will take on the Wisconsin Badgers in the ReliaQuest Bowl and Daniels will hope to lay claim to both trophies.

This season he has thrown for 3812 yards, with 40 touchdowns and just four interceptions. Add in his 1134 rushing yards and you have video game numbers right there. His best performance of the season was against Florida, when he registered 372 passing yards and ran for 234 yards in a 52-35 win. 

The dual-threat ability of him is what makes him standout and should he add the Heisman to his arsenal, expect him to be one of the first picks in the draft with plenty of teams looking to find that QB for the future. For me, he’s easily a top 10 pick, potentially a top five selection.

This level of performance is why he is the clear favourite to receive the award on Saturday and led to him receiving the 2023 AP Player of the Year award to kick off what could be a huge few days for Daniels.

Michael Penix Jr, QB, Washington

The second name on the list is another quarterback that had an outstanding individual season, but a flawless team record as well. Michael Penix Jr. led Washington Huskies to a 13-0 record and the two seed in the AP Top 25. They now face the Texas Longhorns in the Sugar Bowl and a place in the CFB National Championship game up for grabs. 

Penix threw for 4218 yards this season, his second consecutive 4000+ passing yard season and once again led the nation in passing yards. This included 33 touchdowns and nine interceptions as he led his team to that unbeaten record. He flew out the gates at the beginning of the season in a 56-19 win over Boise State, throwing for 450 yards and five touchdowns. Big wins over seeded Oregan twice, USC, Utah and Oregon State have combined for an all-around fantastic season for Penix.

Penix’s draft case is interesting. The range for him seems fairly large from some projecting a top 10 pick to others seeing him potentially even going in the second-round. He is an excellent passer but isn’t the dual threat type that the NFL is leaning towards.

His performance against Texas and potential National Championship could certainly alter this. I think he will go in the first round at least, but a title win would certainly change up draft boards across the country.

Bo Nix, QB, Oregon

Bo Nix had an exceptional season in the green of Oregon, leading his side to an 11-2 record and the 8th seed in the AP Top 25. In the New Year they will take on 18th ranked Liberty in the Fiesta Bowl. There are rumours of Nix potentially sitting out of the bowl game as he prepares for the NFL draft.

This season he put up 4145 yards, completing 77.2 percent of his passes and throwing for 40 touchdowns and just three interceptions. Arizona State were on the wrong end of sublime Nix performance. The QB threw for 404 yards and six touchdowns in the 49-13 win over the Sun Devils.

He is a quarterback with plenty of experience now and has the ability to move and pass on the run which bodes well for his NFL prospects. His defeats to Penix Jr. hamper his Heisman chances and so sees him as an outsider along with the final player.

In terms of draft position, again the range is quite big for him. Teams will of course be changing picks depending on who is taken prior to them and so this could see Nix be taken in the top 15 or one of the final players selected in the first day of the draft.

Marvin Harrison Jr., WR, Ohio State

There aren’t many times when a wide receiver is a Heisman Trophy finalist, but when you watch Marvin Harrison Jr. play you can see why. The electric wide receiver was part of the Ohio State side that went 11-1 and find themselves as the 7th ranked side in the country. His side’s only defeat was to the top seeded Michigan Wolverines. At the end of December they will take on the 9th seeded Missouri Tigers in what is a very exciting Cotton Bowl Classic.

He finished the season with the second-most receiving touchdowns with 14, whilst amassing 1211 yards on 67 receptions. Harrison Jr. registered 160+ receiving yards on three occasions and claimed two touchdowns in four games. 

Standing at 6-foot-4, he is one of the top prospects in the draft but still has college eligibility should he decide to pass on the NFL draft. The general consensus is that he is a definite top five draft pick and I completely agree. He has all the makings to go and be standout receiver on many teams and those teams with a young quarterback and need a weapon will be looking to add him to their roster.

My prediction

Don’t want to just say the same as everyone else, but it is hard to look past Jayden Daniels to be awarded with the Heisman Trophy. His stats are absolutely mind blowing and that is what separates him from the other candidates. He can pass as well as anyone but over 1000 rushing yards from the QB position is ridiculous. The other candidates have been exceptional along with many that didn’t make the final cut. Ultimately, I think Jayden Daniels of LSU will take the Heisman Trophy home.