Johnny “Money” Manziel, Jameis Winston, Drake Maye. These are the names we see when looking at freshmen who have won the Heisman Trophy.
After five weeks of the college football season, the Heisman race is shaping up to be a good one. Front runners C.J. Stroud and Bryce Young have come out firing on all cylinders this season. Yet after an injury to his throwing arm, Bryce Young’s odds have decreased a bit. Players like Caleb Williams and Hendon Hooker are looking to keep this a close one, but do not count out UNC quarterback Drake Maye.
Maye, the redshirt freshman who transferred from Alabama, is on pace for a record setting season with the Tar Heels. As it stands today, the quarterback has 22 total touchdowns on the year, currently leading all of college football. He has shown plenty of success in the pocket this season and flashes plenty of ability to escape and create issues on the ground. Making him a nightmare to game plan against.
After five games in 2022, Maye ranks sixth in passing yards and has an impressive 69.7% completion percentage. The Tar Heel freshman has only thrown a single interception all season, and has only turned the ball over two other times on the ground, proving he has the ability to hold onto the ball.
So why should he be in the Heisman conversation?
Maye has led this UNC team to a 4-1 record so far, and has done so with a far from elite defense. This is the same defensive unit that allowed App St. to score 61 points against them. So unlike Stroud and Young, Maye is producing results without a huge performance from his colleagues on the other side of the ball. Having to air it out just to keep this team afloat, quite literally carrying the offense on his back. The quarterback has been the teams leading rusher already twice this season and is second on the team in rushing yards with 255.
There is always a lot of talk about a “Heisman Moment” and Drake Maye has had an assortment of clutch throws that could fall into this, with his most impressive coming from the shootout with App St. Before the half Maye threaded the needle on a 15 yard dime to sophomore tight end Bryson Nesbit to give UNC the lead before half. While down 45-26 against Notre Dame, Maye kept the team alive on a 4th and 21 when he hit wide receiver Antoine Green for an 80 yard touchdown. A ball which he released as getting hit, making the play all the more impressive.
If Maye is to pull off this impressive feat, it would make him the youngest Heisman winner ever, surpassing Lamar Jackson who currently holds the record at 19 years and 337 days. Maye just turned 19 on August 30th of this year. This would also make him just the third freshman to ever win the prestigious award. North Carolina has found a young star who could terrorize the ACC for years to come, let us hope this career is not wasted by Mack Brown and his sloppy defenses in the same vein as his predecessor, “Heisman Howell.”
By Will Lane – @TheWillieLane