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Breaking Down the Leading 2024 Heisman Trophy Contenders

The Heisman Trophy
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One college football award stands above all others. The Heisman Trophy is annually awarded to the most outstanding college football player. No collegiate sporting award is more iconic, coveted and revered.

Who will win the cherished prize in 2024?

Discussed below are leading contenders. Longshot contenders will be discussed in a follow-up article.

Leading Heisman Contenders

The Heisman Memorial Trophy has been awarded annually since 1935. For nearly three-quarters of a century, it was presented in New York City by the Downtown Athletic Club. Since 2003, it has been presented by the Heisman Trophy Trust. The award is named after the former director of the Downtown Athletic Club, John W. Heisman, who passed away in 1936.

In recent years, the award has gone overwhelmingly to quarterbacks. Indeed, in the 21st century, 20 out of the 24 Heisman Trophies awarded have gone to quarterbacks. Three have gone to running backs. And, one has gone to a wide receiver—Alabama's DeVonta Smith in 2020.

Alabama WR DeVonta Smith
© Mickey Welsh-USA TODAY Sports

According to Las Vegas oddsmakers and sports authorities, such as ESPN and Sports Illustrated, the young men discussed immediately below are the leading candidates for the Heisman Trophy in 2024. Unsurprisingly, they are all quarterbacks. A handful of other position players are longshot contenders.

QB Carson Beck (Georgia Bulldogs)

Beck is a 6-foot-4, pro-style quarterback who led his high school team to the Florida state championship. He was a five-star recruit, who initially committed to Alabama, before switching to Georgia.

He is a redshirt senior who backed up Stetson Bennett during the Bulldogs' national championships in the 2021 and 2022 seasons.

Carson Beck — Georgia Bulldogs: One the leading 2024 Heisman contenders
© Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Beck started all 14 games for the Bulldogs during the 2023 season. He threw for just shy of 4,000 yards, with 24 touchdown passes and only 6 interceptions. He completed over 72 percent of his passes.

Although Beck lost his favorite target, TE Brock Bowers, who the Las Vegas Raiders selected with the 13th overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, he will be fortified with plenty of ammunition in the 2024 collegiate season. Georgia is ranked No. 1 in the nation in most preseason polls.

Beck made news earlier this year when he purchased a Lamborghini after inking a Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) deal worth more than $1 million.

Beck currently has the best odds to win the Heisman at +800 (bet $10 to win $80).

QB Quinn Ewers (Texas Longhorns)

Regarded as the top recruit in the 2021 class by some outlets, Ewers initially attended Ohio State. In the 2021 season, he played only a couple snacks for the Buckeyes. Although he was the first collegiate athlete to sign an NIL deal worth more than $1 million, Ewers announced his decision to transfer to Texas in December 2021.

Among the leading Heisman contenders: Texas QB Quinn Ewers
© Aaron E. Martinez/American-Statesman/USA TODAY NETWORK

During the 2022 and 2023 seasons, Ewers started 22 games for the Longhorns. He has completed 64.3 percent of his passes for 5,656 receiving yards and 36 touchdowns, with just 12 interceptions. He was named second-team All-Big 12 Conference in 2023.

Texas is stacked at quarterback for the 2024 season. Ewers is backed up by Arch Manning of the legendary Manning family.

Texas is ranked third in the nation in a composite of preseason polls which The Sporting News released on June 6 (hereafter "composite preseason poll"). Thus, Ewers will be surrounded by plenty of talent in his Heisman campaign.

According to Las Vegas odds-makers, Ewers' odds of bringing home the Heisman are +900 (bet $10 to win $90).

QB Dillon Gabriel (Oregon Ducks)

Gabriel, a native Hawaiian, is a redshirt senior, who transferred to Oregon after serving for two seasons as the starting QB for the Oklahoma Sooners. He has a wealth of collegiate football experience. Indeed, before playing two full seasons for the Sooners, he started 25 games for the University of Central Florida Knights.

Last year at Oklahoma, Gabriel was named first-team All-Big 12. He passed for 3,660 yards and 30 touchdowns. He also rushed for 373 yards and 12 more touchdowns.

Heisman contenders: QB Dillon Gabriel - Oregon Ducks
© Ben Lonergan/The Register-Guard/USA TODAY NETWORK

Gabriel stands to benefit from Oregon's talent at the wide receiver position, including Tez Johnson, who had 1,182 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns last year.

The Ducks are ranked No. 4 in the composite preseason poll.

Gabriel has a $1.4 million NIL deal.

His Heisman odds are +1,000 (bet $10 to win $100).

QB Will Howard (Ohio State Buckeyes)

Howard is an experienced senior. He started 25 games for the Kansas State Wildcats in four seasons before transferring to Ohio State for his final collegiate year. In 2023, he was second-team All-Big 12. He is the Wildcats' all-time leader in passing touchdowns.

Howard is a 6-foot-5, 242-pound dual-threat quarterback. Along with passing for 5,786 yards, 48 touchdowns and 25 interceptions during his tenure at K-State, he rushed for 921 yards and 19 touchdowns.

Ohio State Buckeyes QB — Will Howard
© Barbara J. Perenic/Columbus Dispatch/USA TODAY NETWORK

Ohio State has yet to announce Howard will be the team's starting quarterback in 2024. Devin Brown, who was the Buckeyes' backup QB last year, is competing for the starting position with Howard.

Assuming Howard is the starter, he will likely make gifted WR Emeka Egbuka a frequent target in the passing game. Egbuka had 1,151 receiving yards and 10 touchdown receptions in 2022.

The Buckeyes are ranked No. 2 in the composite preseason poll.

Will Howard's NIL deal is valued at $1.1 million.

Howard's Heisman odds are +1,200 (bet $10 to win $120).

QB Jalen Milroe (Alabama Crimson Tide)

Milroe is one of only two leading contenders for the 2024 Heisman who received votes for the award in 2023. He finished sixth in the voting in 2023, following a season in which, after being benched early on, he rebounded to turn in an impressive year as the Crimson Tide's signal caller.

In 2023, Milroe passed and rushed for a total of 3,186 yards and 35 touchdowns. He led the Tide to a 12-1 record and a berth in the College Football Playoff.

QB Jalen Milroe - Alabama Crimson Tide
© Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Milroe is a redshirt junior. He was a backup QB for the Tide in 2021 and 2022.

In his breakout season in 2023, Milroe led Alabama to a victory over Georgia in the Southeastern Conference Championship game, and he was named MVP of the game.

Alabama is ranked No. 6 in the composite preseason poll.

Milroe has an NIL deal valued at $1.6 million.

His Heisman odds are +1,400 (bet $10 to win $140).

QB Nico Iamaleava (Tennessee Volunteers)

Iamaleava is a 6-foot-6, talented athlete from Long Beach, Calif. He was a five-star recruit, and he is only 19-years-old.

During the 2023 season, Iamaleava backed up Joe Milton. However, when Milton opted not to play in the Citrus Bowl, Iamaleava got the opportunity to start for the Volunteers against Iowa. He seized the opportunity, leading Tennessee to a 35-0 victory over the Hawkeyes. He earned MVP honors—passing for 1 touchdown and rushing for 3.

Tennessee QB Nico Iamaleava
© Saul Young/News Sentinel/USA TODAY NETWORK

Tennessee is ranked No. 14 in the composite preseason poll.

Iamaleava has a $1.3 million NIL deal.

His Heisman odds are +1,500 (bet $10 to win $150).

QB Jaxson Dart (Ole Miss Rebels)

Dart, who began playing college ball at USC after a standout high school career in which he was named MaxPreps National Player of the Year, transferred to Ole Miss in 2022. During his first two seasons as the Rebels' signal caller, Dart started 25 games, passed for more than 6,000 yards and threw 43 touchdown passes. He has also rushed for more than 1,000 yards and 9 touchdowns.

Heisman Contenders: Ole Miss. QB Jaxson Dart
© Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

At 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds, Dart is a gifted and mobile athlete, as revealed by his impressive rushing statistics. He is entering his senior season with a loaded roster. Ole Miss is ranked No. 5 in the composite preseason poll. The Rebels boast the second-best wide receiver corps in the nation and the fifth-best running back unit according to Pro Football Focus (PFF). Dart will undoubtedly benefit from these valuable assets.

Dart's NIL deal is valued at $1.5 million.

His Heisman odds are +1,600 (bet $10 to win $160).

QB Garrett Nussmeier (LSU Tigers)

Nussmeier is a 22-year-old redshirt junior. After backing up 2023 Heisman winner Jayden Daniels for two seasons, Nussmeier finally gets his chance to shine. When Daniels opted out of playing in the ReliaQuest Bowl on New Year's Day, Nussmeier gave LSU fans cause for optimism about the future. He led the Tigers to a 35-31 victory over the Wisconsin Badgers, passing for 395 yards and 3 touchdowns.

Heisman Contenders: LSU QB Garrett Nussmeier
© Matt Pendleton-USA TODAY Sports

Nussmeier stands to benefit significantly from LSU's terrific offensive line. The Tigers have two tackles rated among the top ten nationally by PFF—Emery Jones and Will Campbell. The Bayou Bengals are No. 13 in the composite preseason poll.

Nussmeier has an NIL deal valued at $1.1 million.

His Heisman odds are +1,600 (bet $10 to win $160).

QB Noah Fifita (Arizona Wildcats)

Fifita is a 20-year-old redshirt sophomore from Huntington Beach, Calif. He was a standout quarterback for national powerhouse Servite High School. He became the Wildcats starting quarterback in 2023 and quickly impressed. He earned honors as the Pac-12 Conference Freshman Offensive Player of the Year.

During his brief career at Tuscon, Fifita has thrown for 2,997 yards, with 26 touchdown passes and only 6 interceptions. Against rival Arizona State, he threw for a jaw-dropping 527 yards. Additionally, he led the Wildcats to an impressive victory over Oklahoma in the Alamo Bowl. For the 2023 season, Fifita tied for fourth nationally with a 72.4 completion percentage.

Arizona Wildcats QB Noah Fifita
© Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

Fifita will benefit from the return of top-flight wide receiver Tetairoa McMillan, who had 1,242 receiving yards last year and was named AP third-team All-America.

Arizona is ranked No. 17 in the composite preseason poll.

Fifita's Heisman odds are +2,000 (bet $10 to win $200).

Place Your Bet(s)

Who is your money on? Have the oddsmakers correctly assessed that one of the nine quarterbacks discussed above will win the Heisman in 2024? As always, the road to college football's most prestigious award will feature many twists and turns, along with plenty of drama.

Stay tuned to College Football Dawgs for a sequel to this article, focusing on longshot Heisman candidates.


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