USC quarterback Caleb Williams was a clear winner in a straw poll of 26 Heisman Trophy voters conducted this week by CBS Sports. Utilizing the same voting protocol as the Heisman Trust -- 3 points for first place, 2 points for second place and 1 point for third place -- Williams easily finished above other finalists in what would make him the Trojans' first Heisman winner since running back Reggie Bush in 2005.
Williams received 17 first-place votes compared to seven for TCU QB Max Duggan and one each for Michigan RB Blake Corum and Alabama QB Bryce Young, the reigning Heisman winner. Duggan placed second behind Williams with fellow finalist Georgia QB Stetson Bennett IV and Tennessee QB Hendon Hooker finishing in a tie for third. Corum and Young, neither of whom (along with Hooker) received invitations to New York for the Heisman ceremony, tied for fifth.
At times this season, Williams seemed to almost single-handedly elevate USC to its first 11-1 start since 2008. In his first full season as a starter after transferring from Oklahoma, he threw for 4,075 yards (fourth-most nationally) and 37 touchdowns, tying him for the national lead with Ohio State QB C.J. Stroud and Houston QB Clayton Tune.
The Trojans seemed destined to win their first Pac-12 championship in five years before Williams "popped" a hamstring Friday in the league title game during a long first-half run. With Williams hobbled the rest of the way, Utah was able to roar back to win its second consecutive Pac-12 crown.
If Williams plays against Tulane in the Cotton Bowl, he would need 69 yards passing to surpass Sam Darnold as USC's single-season passing leader.
Duggan was the inspiration behind TCU's run to the Big 12 Championship Game. Replacing injured starter Chandler Morris in the opener, Duggan went on to lead the league in yards passing and touchdown passes.
Bennett led Georgia to its first SEC title since 2017 in his first full season as the starter. The super senior heads to his second College Football Playoff 27-3 when starting for the Bulldogs. Since taking over for JT Daniels last season, he has evolved from game manager to game changer, ranking as the SEC's No. 2 passer in 2022.
Hooker's and Corum's candidacies were both stalled by late-season injuries. Hooker was injured in the season finale against South Carolina after throwing for 58 touchdowns against only five interceptions in two years at Tennessee. Corum suffered a knee injury against Illinois and played briefly at Ohio State but was unable to see a second series against the Buckeyes before being ruled out for the season. He finished third in Big Ten rushing.
Voters were promised anonymity in exchanged for their ballots. The 26 voters represent 3% of the 870 electorate.
2022 Heisman Trophy straw poll
|Player||First-place votes||Total points|
1. QB Caleb Williams, USC
2. QB Max Duggan, TCU
T3. QB Stetson Bennett, Georgia
T5. RB Blake Corum, Michigan
7. QB C.J. Stroud, Ohio State
8. RB Bijan Robinson, Texas
|9. QB Michael Penix Jr., Washington|| ||2|
|10. TE Michael Mayer, Notre Dame|| ||1|