Alabama's Milroe, Georgia's Beck and Oregon's Gabriel will head into 2024 with Heisman Trophy hype

NEW YORK (AP) — The day before Jayden Daniels won the Heisman Trophy he was asked if he would return to LSU for another season next year.

“I can't,” he said.

Oh, right.

The careers of college quarterbacks might feel endless these days, but even with the bonus COVID year the NCAA handed out for those in college in 2020, Daniels is done after playing five seasons.

Fellow Heisman finalist Bo Nix of Oregon is also finished after five years. Injuries allowed Washington's Michael Penix Jr. to play six years. He, too, will be getting a job next year — most likely in the NFL.

Ohio State receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. was the only Heisman finalist with eligibility remaining. He has said he hasn't decided on a return, but as a likely top five draft pick there probably aren't enough NIL dollars to lure him back to Columbus for another season.

With 2022 Heisman winner Caleb Williams off to the NFL, too, the 2024 Heisman race looks wide open.

INCUMBENT QBs

Alabama's Jalen Milroe tops this category though a word of caution: He has been in college for three seasons and could turn pro. That seems highly unlikely, even with a good run in the College Football Playoff.

More likely, Milroe will start next season as one of the Heisman favorites after finishing sixth in this year's voting.

Georgia's Carson Beck also seems on track to return for a second season as a starter, and with a chance to become QB1 in the 2025 NFL draft.

Then there is Texas' Quinn Ewers. Speculation is high he plans to return to Austin for a third season, but a lot can change over the course of a playoff game or two.

Penn State's Drew Allar had a bumpy first season as a starter, but with a new offensive coordinator in Happy Valley there could be a big jump in year two for the former five-star.

TRANSFERS QBs

Five of the last seven Heisman winners have been quarterbacks who have transferred.

One glance at the portal suggests another could be possible.

A few hours before the Heisman presentation ceremony, ex-Oklahoma and UCF quarterback Dillon Gabriel announced he will be playing his sixth season of college football at Oregon next year.

There are still plenty of decisions to come but Cameron Ward, Riley Leonard, Kyle McCord and Will Howard are among the veterans who could turn into the Daniels, Nix or Penix.

Maybe the most intriguing quarterback in the portal is Dante Moore, who had a rough freshman season at UCLA but comes with five-star pedigree and room to grow.

NEW STARTING QBs

Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel, Florida State's Jameis Winston and Alabama's Bryce Young have shown that second-year players and first-year starters can win the Heisman.

If you're looking for players to take that path to the award, start with Gabriel's replacement in Oklahoma, Jackson Arnold.

Tennessee is also likely to turn to a class of 2023 five-star in Nico Iamaleava.

And if Ewers does go pro, Texas has college football's most famous backup quarterback ready to go in Arch Manning.

RUNNING BACKS

Runners don't get the Heisman love they used to. Derrick Henry from Alabama was the last to win the award in 2015.

At least a couple of star ball carriers deserve some hype going into next season, even if it's unlikely they will win the award.

Oklahoma State's Ollie Gordon II leads the nation with 1,614 yards rushing after barely playing in the Cowboys first three games.

North Carolina's Omarion Hampton got lost in the Drake Maye hype, but he ran for 1,442 yards and 15 touchdowns.

Two freshman who are likely to step into bigger roles next year are Texas' CJ Baxter and Miami's Mark Fletcher.

RECEIVERS

This season was a great one for receivers and still only Harrison was even able to be a finalist. It's tough for the pass catchers when the pass throwers get all the credit, but only three years ago Alabama's DeVonta Smith took home the Heisman.

Most of this year's star-studded receiver class (LSU's Malik Nabers, Washington's Rome Odunze) is off to the NFL.

Missouri's Luther Burden III and Arizona's Tetairoa McMillan will be the best of the bunch next year, but long shots to win a Heisman.

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Follow Ralph D. Russo at https://twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP and listen at http://www.appodcasts.com.

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AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-football-poll

 

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