ESPN CareersInnovationNCAAFThe ESPN DifferenceWalt Disney CompanyWho Does That?Working @ ESPN’s Heisman Tracker Takes College Football Fans on Innovative, Data-Driven Dive

For avid followers of’s Heisman Tracker, the reveal of the four Heisman Trophy finalists during Monday Night Countdown on Dec. 4 was no surprise. The interactive digital experience has had the college football foursome of Jayden Daniels (LSU), Marvin Harrison, Jr. (Ohio State), Bo Nix (Oregon), and Michael Penix Jr. (Washington) at the top of its charts all fall long.

The Heisman Tracker, written by senior writer Ryan McGee and produced by the Visual Storytelling group of ESPN Creative Studio in collaboration with senior editor Chris Grandstaff and the editorial team at, has diligently chased Heisman contenders all season, including data, top performances and odds of winning the coveted award.

The Tracker is written in McGee’s signature narration, melding storytelling, statistics, and sharp-wittedness with some of the strongest performances of the season.

“The idea for this project really started a year ago,” McGee shared. “We were on our weekly ESPN college football writers conference call and wondering aloud why there seemed to have been a loss of buzz around the Heisman in recent years. I fancy myself a college football historian, and sometimes we have to remind ourselves that with each generation comes the need for re-education on some of the great traditions of the sport. Mr. Heisman felt like he needed a reintroduction. With that mission in mind, in the spring, we identified the most likely 2023 Heisman Trophy contenders, and our incredible graphics team started working on what became the Tracker.

“Now, this is the part where I try to take credit on behalf of the entire team for generating all the electricity that we experienced during this year‘s wire-to-wire Heisman race,” McGee continued. “But the truth is that we were gifted with a ridiculous competition between a crazy deep roster of candidates this season, so it didn’t take much work to pique people’s interest. That being said, we’re perfectly happy to take all the credit, too. ”

The final update to the Heisman Tracker was released Wednesday, with an in-depth look at the quartet’s chances to receive the sport’s crowning achievement. What instantly stands out with the Heisman Tracker is how engaging it is on both desktop and mobile, visualizing for readers how each athlete’s season has progressed. The innovative look and feel were top of mind for the ESPN Creative Studio team.

“Our creative process always begins with content — what story are we trying to tell, and how can our presentation enhance this content,” said Michelle Bashaw, ESPN senior designer. “All our design decisions align around those core questions. So, for a project such as Heisman Tracker, we centered our efforts around the unique data. The initial chart showing week-by-week voting results had to be clear and dynamic, for one thing. We also worked extensively on how to visualize each individual vote, from Week 0 to now, and added lively illustrations throughout to engage fans in a fun way.”

The Visual Storytelling group of ESPN Creative Studio created the Heisman Tracker to help fans keep track of college football stars’ performances over the course of the 2023 season. (ESPN)

As the seconds tick down on one of the sport’s shining nights, ESPN has every angle covered of Heisman Trophy tales past and present. ESPN has been the exclusive home of the Heisman Trophy Ceremony since 1994, and the company is celebrating its 30th year producing the ceremony alongside host Chris Fowler, who will also hit his pearl anniversary with the top individual trophy in college football. The 2023 ceremony (Saturday, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN) will honor the 89th Heisman Trophy winner.


Following the Heisman Trophy Ceremony, ESPN will premiere the latest 30 for 30 at 9 p.m. with “The Great Heisman Race of 1997,” which takes an immersive, time-capsule style approach to telling the story of the Heisman Trophy race of 1997. Director Gentry Kirby brings viewers back a quarter century to chronicle a season that fans will never forget, with future Hall of Famers Peyton Manning and Charles Woodson headlining a cast of legendary players – and living at the center of a debate that still lives on all these years later. Visit ESPN Press Room for more details.

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