An Ohio State player – more specifically, its quarterback – has been a Heisman finalist four of the past five years.
The Buckeyes have a number of players with the potential to continue that run this season. With Week 0 already over and Week 1 set to begin, it’s time for the season’s first Heisman Watch, a series that we’ll continue every 3-4 weeks throughout the year.
Ohio State currently has four players – Kyle McCord, Marvin Harrison Jr., TreVeyon Henderson and Devin Brown – among the top 23 candidates to win the 2023 Heisman Trophy, according to Action Network's consensus odds.
|QB CALEB WILLIAMS, USC||+487|
|QB JAYDEN DANIELS, LSU||+1048|
|QB JORDAN TRAVIS, FLORIDA STATE||+1293|
|QB QUINN EWERS, TEXAS||+1334|
|QB MICHAEL PENIX JR., WASHINGTON||+1400|
|QB CADE KLUBNIK, CLEMSON||+1400|
|QB DRAKE MAYE, NORTH CAROLINA||+1576|
|QB BO NIX, OREGON||+1600|
|QB SAM HARTMAN, NOTRE DAME||+1600|
|QB CARSON BECK, GEORGIA||+1694|
|QB J.J. MCCARTHY||+1694|
|QB KYLE MCCORD, OHIO STATE||+1779|
|WR MARVIN HARRISON JR., OHIO STATE||+2223|
|QB JOE MILTON, TENNESSEE||+2500|
|QB DREW ALLAR, PENN STATE||+2500|
|RB BLAKE CORUM, MICHIGAN||+3297|
|QB DILLON GABRIEL, OKLAHOMA||+4000|
|QB CONNER WEIGMAN, TEXAS A&M||+4236|
|QB JALEN MILROE, ALABAMA||+5000|
|QB SPENCER RATTLER, SOUTH CAROLINA||+5000|
|QB KJ JEFFERSON, ARKANSAS||+5000|
|RB QUINSHON JUDKINS, OLE MISS||+5455|
|RB TREVEYON HENDERSON, OHIO STATE||+6000|
|QB DEVIN BROWN, OHIO STATE||+6000|
|RB NICK SINGLETON, PENN STATE||+6000|
When Ryan Day named McCord the starting quarterback for the season opener on Tuesday, his odds received a boost while Brown's fell. How the quarterback situation plays out will not only greatly impact Ohio State's success this season, but also whether a Buckeye will be a top candidate for the Heisman. Henderson can carry the load when he has the ball in his hands, but it will be up to McCord (or Brown) in terms of how often Harrison will get the ball.
Harrison returns as the best wide receiver in the country, is projected to be among the top picks in the 2024 NFL Draft and will *still* feel like he has something to prove after missing out on the Biletnikoff Award. As a sophomore, the 6-foot-3, 202-pound wideout finished with 77 catches for 1,263 yards and 14 touchdowns in 13 games, catching just about everything within his reach. Harrison already has a great history with McCord, who he won three state championships with in high school.
McCord has started only one game – a win over Akron in 2021 – in two years in Columbus, but the quarterback has completed 41 of 58 passes for 606 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions so far as a Buckeye. While filling in for an injured C.J. Stroud, the junior completed 13 of 18 passes for 319 yards, two touchdowns and one interception against the Zips in two seasons ago, and he’ll look to put up more big numbers this year while establishing himself as the starter for good.
Henderson, meanwhile, is looking to get back to the way he played throughout his breakout freshman season after an injury-riddled second year at Ohio State, one that led to surgery that forced him to miss the final two games of the year against Michigan and Georgia. As a freshman, Henderson totaled 183 carries for 1,248 yards and 15 touchdowns and also had 27 receptions for 312 yards and four touchdowns. The biggest thing that might keep him from being a Heisman contender is the fact that the Buckeye running back room is loaded with depth, which means Henderson likely won't receive as many carries as other top running backs across the country as he’ll split the workload with Miyan Williams and others.
Caleb Williams is the reigning Heisman winner after he completed 333 of 500 passes for 4,537 yards and 42 touchdowns and added 113 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground for USC this past season. He is looking to become the second two-time Heisman Trophy winner, with Archie Griffin being the first (and only) player to do so.
Ohio State’s starting quarterback has been a Heisman finalist in four of the last five seasons, with Stroud most recently earning trips to New York in back-to-back years. Even though McCord has only locked down the starting nod for the first week of the season and has potentially left the door open for Brown, never count out the signal-caller in Day's offense to be a Heisman candidate no matter who it is, at least until proven otherwise.
Since the Heisman is essentially a quarterback’s award – 19 of the past 23 Heisman winners have been quarterbacks dating back to the 2000 season – whoever ends up winning the starting quarterback competition will likely have the best chance among Buckeyes of winning the prestigious award. That said, Harrison and Henderson are much more established stars right now and could be part of the conversation as well.
Ohio State hasn't had a Heisman winner since 2006, when Troy Smith brought the award back to Columbus. Since Griffin won back-to-back trophies in 1974 and 1975, the Buckeyes have had just two Heisman Trophy winners: Smith and Eddie George (1995). McCord or Brown, Harrison and Henderson or another Buckeye in OSU's loaded group of skill players will look to change that this season.