clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Early Heisman Trophy candidates for 2024 season

With the 2023 Heisman Trophy race in the books, we take an immediate look at potential candidates for next year’s award.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 02 Big 12 Championship Game - Texas vs Oklahoma State Photo by Chris Leduc/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The 2023 Heisman Trophy ceremony has concluded and LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels is your winner. He put up ridiculous numbers in Baton Rouge this fall and becomes the second LSU QB in five years to win the prestigious award.

With the 2023 Heisman Trophy race now in the history books, it’s not too early to start pondering who will be hoisting the award in New York City at this time next year. Some familiar contenders will return to their respective programs next season, while others will land in a completely new environment via the transfer portal. And then there’s the mystery box, whether it’s a player who takes a major leap out of nowhere, or a freshman sensation who takes the nation by storm.

Here’s our early look at potential Heisman Trophy candidates for the 2024 season.

Quinn Ewers, QB, Texas

Texas actually lived up to lofty preseason expectations in 2023, winning the Big 12 Championship Game and earning a spot in the College Football Playoffs. A huge driving force for the Longhorns’ success was Ewers, who completed over 70% of his passes for over 3,000 yards while accumulating 26 total touchdowns on the year.

While he is eligible to enter the NFL Draft, numerous reports have indicated that Ewers will return to Austin in 2024. There, he will lead UT into its first season in the SEC and if he’s able take another leap in the nation’s toughest conference, he’ll be a shoo-in for the Heisman Trophy ceremony one year from now.

Dillon Gabriel, QB, Oregon

Just this morning, the former Oklahoma and UCF quarterback announced that he will transfer to Oregon for his final season of collegiate eligibility in 2024. The veteran QB put up excellent 2023 season with the Sooners, leading them to a 10-2 record and a thrilling last-minute victory over the aforementioned Longhorns.

We literally just saw what transferring to Oregon can do for a quarterback, as Bo Nix went from a fledgling QB at Auburn to a Heisman finalist in Eugene. The Ducks’ offense is built for Gabriel to put up video game numbers and we’ll see if a successful campaign in the Big Ten (that still feels weird to say) will earn him an invite to New York City.

Shedeur Sanders, QB, Colorado

Even with Colorado’s glaring offensive line issues down the stretch, Sanders still managed to be productive while under duress. He completed just under 70% of his passes for over 3,000 yards, with 27 touchdowns to just three interceptions. And even as the Buffaloes took their lumps late in the year, there were a few occasions where the son of Coach Prime would will his team back into the contest.

Similar to Ewers, Sanders is eligible to enter the 2024 NFL Draft, but will most likely return to school for one more year. You can bet the CU hype machine will crank up a Heisman campaign the moment spring practice begins and he’ll be one of the most talked about QB’s in the country heading into 2024. If he can lead the Buffs to a respectable record in their first season back in the Big 12, then the Heisman hype might turn into actual reality.

Travis Hunter, CB/WR, Colorado

And joining Sanders on this list is his teammate Hunter, who wowed the nation early in the 2023 season with his dominance as a two-way player. His final statline on the year was impressive, hauling in 57 targets for 721 yards and five touchdowns on offense, while recording 31 tackles, eight passes defended, and five interceptions on defense. And he did all of that in just nine games, as a lacerated liver sidelined him for three weeks.

As he inches closer to the NFL Draft eligibility for 2025, there will be a question over whether Deion Sanders should allow him to log so many snaps on both sides of the ball. Fatigue was certainly a factor in the second half of their game against Stanford, where receiver Elic Ayomanor got the better of him. If he gets the greenlight to remain a true two-way star and ups his production next season, then voters will have no choice but to send him to New York City.

Jalen Milroe, QB, Alabama

Milroe had an interesting year for the Crimson Tide in 2023, going from being benched for the entire USF game to a fringe Heisman Trophy contender by season’s end. The redshirt sophomore from Katy, TX, got better as the season went on and capped it with his Hail Mary throw against Auburn in the Iron Bowl and a victory over No. 1 Georgia in the SEC Championship Game.

Barring a sudden downturn, the Tide machine machine should still keep chugging along in 2024. If Milroe can bump up his passing numbers while leading them to another SEC title, he can make to the Heisman ceremony.

Luther Burden III, WR, Missouri

2023 was an excellent year for elite receivers with Heisman Trophy finalist Marvin Harrison Jr., Malik Nabers, and Rome Odunze leading the way. A man whose name belongs in that same group is Luther Burden III, who had an electric sophomore campaign for Mizzou this season. He hauled in 83 receptions for 1,197 yards, and eight touchdowns on the season, helping lead the team to a 10-2 mark.

Burden will enter the 2024 season as the frontrunner for the Biletnikoff Award and could generate Heisman consideration depending on how dominant he is for the Tigers next year.

Other potential contenders:

  • Ollie Gordon II, RB, Oklahoma State
  • Cameron Ward, QB, ?
  • Grayson McCall, QB, ?
  • DJ Uiagalelei, QB, ?
  • Nico Iamaleava, QB, Tennessee
  • Cam Rising, QB, Utah
  • Carson Beck, QB, Georgia
  • Will Rogers, QB, ?
  • Trevor Etienne, RB, ?
  • Noah Fifita, QB, Arizona
  • Drew Allar, QB, Penn State
  • Alex Orji, QB, Michigan
  • Ohio State starting QB
  • USC starting QB (Miller Moss or Malachi Nelson)