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The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

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Willman’s Heisman hopefuls – week two

Who makes an intriguing case for the Award two weeks in?
Caleb Williams, Shedeur Sanders, J.J. McCarthy and Travis Hunter among the players headlining Heisman race.

The 2023 NCAA football season is still young, but it is never too early to start putting up the stats and building a story to contend for the Heisman Trophy. With their two big wins to start the year, WSU has two players who are making a case to shock the world, but competition remains very thick with only two games on the ledger. 

By midseason, this list will likely be drastically different, but for now, there are at least 10 players close in production as some of the nation’s best. 

Now, let’s look at who has the most intriguing stories and performances early in the season that could parlay into a Heisman-like season: 

Honorables – USC QB Caleb Williams, Notre Dame QB Sam Hartman, Texas QB Quinn Ewers 

Colorado WR/DB – Travis Hunter and QB – Shedeur Sanders

Colorado has an impressive duo in Hunter and Sanders that have led the team to two straight victories over TCU and Nebraska to start the new season with more wins than they had in 2022. 

Hunter plays over a hundred combined snaps between offense and defense each game and already is up to 14 receptions and 192 yards, as well as picking up an interception and two passes defended. Sanders has thrown for 903 yards and six TDs through the first two games, all while completing 77.5% of his passes.

The two Buffs standouts could benefit from being a part of the same team and same potential historic season, they could even go on to share the Heisman Trophy as co-winners. 

Michigan QB –  J.J. McCarthy 

McCarthy is one of the most efficient passers in the county, akin to Joe Burrow in 2019. While his yardage numbers are not the best, he makes up for that, playing in a touch Conference with great team potential. 

He has an 87.3 completion percentage on the year with 558 yards and five TDs. To truly contend for the coveted trophy, he will need to increase his numbers and have other candidates fall off in production or lose big games, but with his consistency, that is a possibility. 

WSU QB –  Cam Ward 

Cam Ward scrambles up the middle of the field after failing to find an open receiver, Sept. 9.

WSU is 2-0 and already upset a ranked team this season. With relatively low to average expectations for the season, a potential nine or 10-win team could put Ward into the spotlight and in the conversation as one of the best QBs in the country. 

With 663 yards and five TDs on the season but a big potential statistical performance incoming against Northern Colorado, he is in line with the best of them. 

His legs provide another lethal area of statistical output, as he can easily have at least 400 yards and five extra TDs to his passing numbers. 

WSU Edge – Ron Stone Jr. 

The only pure defensive player on the list was the major contributor of the Cougs defense in their upset win over Wisconsin. With two strip sacks against the Badgers, he already is on pace for a big year. With a great personality as well, he will be a dark horse contender if he can have a few more games like the one he had against Wisconsin. 

After his Wisconsin performance, the Pac-12 named him as the Conference Defensive Player of the Week, as well as the Defensive Lineman of the Week.

Ron Stone Jr. pounces on Wisconsin QB Tanner Mordecai to force a strip-sack fumble, Sept. 9.

Washington QB – Michael Penix Jr. 

The other QB from a Washington School, Penix Jr. has the Huskies as one of the top contenders out of the Pac-12. After a great year in 2022, if he stays healthy, he is one of the most talented players in the country. 

Through two games, he already has 859 and eight TDs. He can definitely reach the 5,000 passing yards mark and 40 TDs, which statistically may only be rivaled by USC’s Caleb Williams. If he gets those stats, barring two or more losses, it is his award to lose.

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About the Contributors
BRANDON WILLMAN, Editor-in-chief
Brandon Willman is a junior multimedia journalism student from Vancouver, Washington. He started working as a sportswriter for the Daily Evergreen in Fall 2022 and worked as copy editor in spring 2023. Brandon was elected to be EIC starting in summer 2023 and enjoys watching sports, backpacking, and watching horror movies.
MARY CHAFFEE, Evergreen illustrator
Mary Chaffee is a graphic illustrator for the Daily Evergreen. She is a senior DTC and Fine Arts major from Nine Mile Falls, Washington. Mary started working for the Daily Evergreen in Summer 2023.

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