Caleb Williams smiles during practice.
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Caleb Williams and 5 Other Early Heisman Candidates to Watch in 2023 

Caleb Williams is the frontrunner once again to win the Heisman Trophy, but plenty of other names could sneak up on the USC quarterback.

Southern California quarterback Caleb Williams took home the Heisman Trophy last season for his immaculate season with the Trojans. 

Lincoln Reilly's rebuild of USC is coming along nicely, but other teams are loading up on talent and will continue to develop over this summer, bringing new Heisman candidates to the fold amongst Williams. As football heads into a slower summer period, below are some of the names to look out for once the season is set to go in the Fall. 

Caleb Williams, USC

Caleb Williams smiles during practice.

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Williams was as good as USC head coach Lincoln Riley could've asked for in his first season with the Trojans. The Trojans signal caller transferred over to USC with his coach after showing promise as a freshman quarterback at Oklahoma. 

Exploding in his second year of college action, Williams set records for the Trojans as he fought for a total of 52 touchdowns and hurled 42. The 6-foot-1 quarterback kept his team around in several games as the defense ranked only eighth in the PAC-12, allowing 29.2 points per game. 

Williams capped off an incredible year with a great performance against Tulane, throwing for a Cotton Bowl record 462 yards and five touchdowns. Moving forward, there is no reason to believe that the USC quarterback can't win another Heisman as he enters his second season in Los Angeles. Still, only Archie Griffin has ever done that.

Jordan Travis, FSU

Jordan Travis throws the ball for FSU.

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The Seminoles have had a rough time in recent years. Before a 10-3 campaign in 2022, the 'Noles hadn't had a winning season since a 7-6 year in 2017. 

In a big turnaround last year, Jordan Travis led the way for FSU. The West Palm Beach native threw for 24 touchdowns and 3,214 yards in 13 games last season. Now, Travis comes into his last year of eligibility with a team that is moving in the right direction in a weaker ACC.

Previous Heisman winners often take a large leap from the year before they win the award and the year they lift the trophy. Kyler Murray jumped from the Oklahoma bench to 42 touchdowns in 2018. Joe Burrow more than doubled his 16 passing touchdowns in 2018 with 60 in 2019 while also completing 76.3% of his throws and passing for 5,671 yards as the leader of the championship-winning LSU Tigers. 

Travis may not win a national title, but he is resting in the right conditions to take off in 2023. 

Drake Maye, North Carolina

Drake Maye runs with the ball.

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North Carolina is known for offense and not much else. Dead last in the ACC, North Carolina allowed opponents to average 30.8 points per game in 2022. 

Fortunately, Drake Maye and the Tar Heels were the second-best passing offense in the conference, averaging 309.3 passing yards per game. In his first year starting, Maye finished in the top 20 in passer rating in the FBS (157.9), the top three in passing yards (4,537) and the top five in passing touchdowns (38). 

Entering only his third year in college and second as a starter, there is a lot of reason to believe that Maye will get even better this year, carving up the defenses of the ACC for a shot at the Heisman. 

Bo Nix, Oregon

Quarterback Bo Nix #10 of the Oregon Ducks rolls out of the pocket to pass against the Colorado Buffaloes in the first quarter of a game at Folsom Field

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The emergence of Bo Nix at Oregon has been a special sight after what was seen of the signal caller at his former school. The Alabama native transferred from Auburn where he never broke out. Nix failed to throw more than 16 touchdowns in a season and his highest completion percentage was just 61% in 2021. 

At Oregon last year, Nix became the most accurate quarterback in an Oregon season in school history (71.9% completion rate). Additionally, the right-handed thrower threw for 3,593 yards, 29 touchdowns and just seven interceptions. Nix's passing yards and touchdown numbers both ranked inside the top 15 in FBS football, and his 85.1 quarterback rating was eighth in the nation. 

Nix was arguably as good as Max Duggan last year, the TCU quarterback who finished inside of the top two in the voting in large part to his team's success. The Ducks get a bit of a break in 2023, as they will host USC, likely their toughest opponent the whole season. If Oregon breaks through to win the Pac-12, Nix should be headed to New York as a Heisman finalist. 

Marvin Harrison Jr., Ohio State

Ohio State Buckeyes wide receiver, and son of Hall of Famer NFL wideout Marvin Harrison, Marvin Harrison Jr. (18) is one the top offensive weapons for Ohio State,

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Ohio State has become a factory of wide receiver talent in recent years. In just the last two years, three Buckeye receivers (Garrett Wilson, Chris Olave and Jaxon Sith-Njigba) have been selected in the first round. 

The Buckeyes aren't done yet, either, as it appears that Marvin Harrison Jr. could easily be in the same position as his former teammates if he can continue his dominance on the field. Even while sharing the field with the other talented wide outs on the Ohio State roster, Harrison was a vacuum for the football, turning 77 receptions into 1,263 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns. 

Harrison played 12 games over the course of the regular season. In 11 games in 2020, Alabama's DeVonta Smith, the last wide receiver to win the Heisman, finished with 1,511 receiving yards, 98 receptions and 17 touchdown passes. If Harrison can repeat his production and find a way to pull in a few more deep balls next year, he might do just enough to become the fifth wide receiver to ever win the Heisman. 

Blake Corum, Michigan

Blake Corum rushes against Rutgers,

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The Wolverines love to run the football in the cold northern conditions they play in, which immediately gives Michigan's running back a shot at the Heisman.

A surprise to some, halfback Blake Corum announced he was returning to Michigan in 2023. Leading the Wolverines in rushing yards (1,463) and rushing touchdowns (18) last season. Corum was very effective until he got hurt in Michigan's win over Illinois in November. 

With Corum set to return for fall camp, Michigan's dominant offensive line will create holes for a run-based offense that Corum should feast in again, giving him a chance at the award as long as he can stay healthy. 

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