ESPN wrote about way-too-early contenders for the 2023 Heisman Trophy on Sunday, and North Carolina QB Drake Maye was near the top of the list.

Maye made it into the “top contenders” category and was listed below only USC quarterback Caleb Williams.

Maye was a strong contender for the award this season before faltering down the stretch. North Carolina lost its final three games before voting was due and Maye failed to keep up his torrid pace that he set over the first two months of season.

Still, there’s a lot of optimism that Maye could return to an elite level again in 2023. Here’s some analysis from ESPN’s Andrea Adelson:

Considering he was kinda sorta discussed as a contender in 2022, Maye should be on the preseason list headed into 2023 after a breakout redshirt freshman season. Maye threw for 4,115 yards, 35 touchdowns and seven interceptions to win ACC Player of the Year honors and lead North Carolina to the ACC championship game. Top receiver Josh Downs is headed to the NFL draft, so a new favorite target is needed moving forward. But there is a reason many believe Maye is in position to be a high NFL draft pick in 2024. One ACC coach said this about Maye: “He’s got great pocket presence. He’s special. He’s just got ‘it.'”

Maye was named ACC Player of the Year for his efforts in 2022. He led North Carolina to a 9-3 regular season record. The Tar Heels can go for a 10th win in the Holiday Bowl against Oregon later this month. UNC has not won 10 games in a single campaign since 2015.

North Carolina will face Oregon in the Holiday Bowl on Dec. 28.