The Heisman Trophy is a huge popularity contest in addition to being the most defined individual honour in college athletics.
It’s been given to the sport’s most exceptional player since 1935, but let’s face it—the most great offensive player truly wins. That person will almost certainly be a quarterback, as demonstrated on Saturday when LSU signal-caller Jayden Daniels won the 2023 Heisman Trophy.
Charles Woodson, a defensive back for Michigan, was the last defender to win the Heisman Trophy in 1997. Woodson’s ability to be both a lockdown corner and a dangerous return man likely helped him win the award.
Failing to accept that is the present state of things is illogical.
In order to predict the winner for next year, we will accept that fact as we look ahead to 2024.
The top five candidates to take home the Heisman Trophy in 2024 are seen below.
1. Dillon Gabriel, QB, Oregon
Gabriel can retire from football with one of the greatest careers of any quarterback in history if he stays loyal to his promise to Oregon.
He has already completed four seasons with at least 3,100 yards and 25 touchdowns through the air. Among those seasons was 2023 at Oklahoma, when he helped the Sooners defeat Texas in Dallas back in October. Gabriel was a major factor in OU’s victory over the Longhorns this season, which was achieved only by one programme.
A player needs to dream up a memorable performance on a national platform in order to win the Heisman Trophy. Gabriel had to sit out the Sooners’ 49-0 loss to the Longhorns in 2022 due to an injury, but this year he managed 285 passing yards, 113 rushing yards, and the winning score against UT.
He will get the opportunity to play against higher-ranked opponents at Oregon, where the Ducks will be playing in their inaugural Big Ten season. UO hosts rival Washington to close up the season before travelling to Michigan and Ohio State.
Gabriel will have the opportunity to compete not just for the Big Ten championship but also for a spot to the College Football Playoff in its 12-team structure next season, thanks to the support of offensive coordinator Will Stein and coach Dan Lanning at Oregon. Gabriel will be wearing the number of Marcus Mariota, the last player to win the Heisman Trophy at Oregon.
2. Alabama QB Jalen Milroe
Milroe was benched after Alabama’s home team lost by ten points to Texas, but he came back to take the starting quarterback position and played a Heisman-caliber game the rest of the way.
In addition to defeating Daniels-led LSU, Ole Miss, and rival Auburn, Milroe also ended Georgia’s 29-game winning streak in the SEC title game. A victory against Michigan in the Rose Bowl and possibly a national championship would catapult Milroe to the top of this list.
Against the Bayou Bengals, Milroe recorded a 200-yard passing and 150-yard rushing performance in addition to 35 tds and over 3,100 yards of total passing and rushing.
Heisman voters clearly took notice, as Milroe placed sixth in the 2023 voting, trailing only Jordan Travis, who guided Florida State to an ACC championship and an undefeated regular season for the first time since 2014.
3. Ollie Gordon II, RB, Oklahoma State
With just 19 touches in the season’s opening three games, Gordon had the greatest breakout season of any player in the nation. With almost 1,600 rushing yards at the end of 2023, he took home the Doak Walker Award as the top running back in the country.
Additionally, he is the first tailback from OSU to win that honour, which was instituted two years following Barry Sanders’ Heisman victory.
Gordon led an offence that helped OSU defeat Oklahoma in what many believe to be the final Bedlam game for a long time in a season that the Pokes were supposed to use to rebuild, all the while displaying form that is rarely seen at this level of the game.
He finished second in the league in rushing touchdowns (20), having run for 100 yards in eight straight games.
4. TreVeyon Henderson, RB, Ohio State
The news that Henderson would be returning to Columbus for the 2024 season brought a sigh of relief to many Buckeye fans, as it might be crucial for both him and OSU.
In an offence that may be more focused on running the ball than any other Ryan Day-coached team, Henderson expects to be the bell-cow back, with Dallan Hayden spelling him. This is because Ohio State running backs Chip Trayanum and Evan Pryor have entered the transfer portal, and Miyan Williams has chosen to declare for the NFL Draft.
Henderson would also have a fantastic chance of repeating his true freshman season, in which he ran for over 1,200 yards, averaged 6.8 yards per carry, and scored 19 tds.
Henderson has the skill and experience to finish in the top five in the Heisman voting and have a season fitting of an All-American, as he poses a threat to every pass to the end zone.
Nor would it hinder his chances to defeat Michigan and win for the first time since 2019.
5. Carson Beck, QB, Georgia
Although there hasn’t been much NFL promise at the quarterback position since Justin Fields left the Dawgs to join Ohio State, Beck has the ability to take UGA back to the College Football Playoffs, win the Heisman Trophy, and be selected first overall in the 2025 NFL Draft.
Beck completed an amazing 72.4% of his passes for over 3,700 yards in his debut season as the starting quarterback in Athens, with 28 touchdowns and just eight interceptions.
The Dawgs’ hold on the job is cemented by his return to Georgia. Additionally, it solidifies Beck’s position as one of the top two quarterbacks in the SEC going into the offseason, enabling Kirby Smart and the offensive coordinator to further refine the offence and make it as dangerous as the UGA defence.
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