College football’s Heisman Trophy: from Berwanger to Manziel

On the evening of Dec. 14, the 79th annual Heisman Memorial Trophy presentation will be telecast live by ESPN. As the usual suspense builds about who will be named this season’s best college player, here are some fun facts to throw into your water cooler Heisman conversations.

1.Famous nonwinners

Cleveland Browns Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown is shown before being honored at halftime of an NFL game between the Buffalo Bills and the Cleveland Browns, Oct. 3, 2013, in Cleveland. (TONY DEJAK/AP)

Where some famous nonwinners finished:

Jim Brown: 5th in 1956 (behind Paul Hornung)

Mike Ditka: 6th in 1960 (behind Joe Bellino)

Dick Butkus: 3rd in 1964 (behind John Huarte)

Archie Manning: 3rd in 1970 (behind Jim Plunkett) and 4th in 1969 (behind Steve Owens)

Dan Marino: 4th in 1981 (behind Marcus Allen)

John Elway: 2nd in 1982 (behind Herschel Walker)

Jerry Rice: 9th in 1984 (behind Doug Flutie)

Emmitt Smith: 7th in 1989 (behind Andre Ware)

Brett Favre: nonfactor (played out of limelight at Southern Mississippi)

Peyton Manning: 6th in 1995 (behind Eddie George), 8th in 1996 (behind Danny Wuerffel) , and 2nd in 1997 (behind Charles Woodson)

Joe Montana: nonfactor (was not a first-team All-America in college)

Tom Brady: nonfactor (only an All-Big Ten honorable mention quarterback at Michigan)

Drew Brees: 3rd in 2000 (behind Chris Weinke)

Eli Manning: 3rd in 2003 (behind Jason White)

Aaron Rodgers: 9th in 2004 (behind Matt Leinert)

Adrian Peterson: 2nd in 2004 (behind Matt Leinert)

Andrew Luck: 2nd in 2010 (behind Cam Newton) and 2nd in 2011 (behind Robert Griffin III)

Smallest election margins

Mark Ingram runs the ball for Alabama in 2009. (DAVE MARTIN/AP/FILE)

Heisman balloting, mostly by sportswriters, can be a complex subject to unpack. The most accurate year-to-year comparisons of voting results are probably done by the Stiff Arm Trophy website, which bases things on a percentage of total votes tallied to calculate election margins. Here are the closest finishes based on the website's calculations.

2009: Alabama RB Mark Ingram over Stanford RB Toby Gerhart (1.01 percentage differential)

1985: Auburn RB Bo Jackson over Iowa QB Chuck Long (1.43 differential)

1953: Notre Dame RB Johnny Lattner over Minnesota RB Paul Giel (1.49 differential)

1961: Syracuse RB Ernie Davis over Ohio State RB Bob Ferguson  (1.62 differential)

1956: Notre Dame QB Paul Hornung over Tennessee RB Johnny Majors (1.82 differential )

Largest election margins

Montreal Alouettes quarterback Troy Smith, the 2006 Heisman Trophy winner at Ohio State, throws a pass against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in their CFL football game, Oct. 26, 2013. (FRED THORNHILL/REUTERS)

2006: Ohio State QB Troy Smith over Arkansas RB Darren McFadden (59.96 percentage differential)

1993:  Florida State QB Charlie Ward over Tennessee QB Heath Shuler (58.83 differential)

1991: Michigan WR Desmond Howard over Florida State QB Casey Weldon (57.22 differential)

1998: Texas RB Ricky Williams over Kansas State QB Michael Bishop (56.57 differential)

1968:  Southern Cal RB O.J. Simpson over Purdue RB Leroy Keyes (50.00 differential)

Heisman winners who never played in the NFL/AFL

University of Chicago halfback Jay Berwanger is shown in 1934. Berwanger was the first winner of college football's Downtown Athletic Club Award, renamed the Heisman Trophy in 1936, and was the No. 1 pick in the first National Football League draft. (AP)

Jay Berwanger, 1935 winner, U. of Chicago halfback

Larry Kelley, 1936 winner, Yale end

Clint Frank, 1937 winner, Yale halfback

Nile Kinnick, 1939 winner, Iowa halfback

Doc Blanchard, 1945 winner, Army fullback

Dick Kazmaier, 1951 winner, Princeton halfback

Pete Dawkins, 1958 winner, Army halfback

Ernie Davis, 1961 winner, Syracuse halfback

Charlie Ward, 1993 winner, Florida State quarterback

Jason White, 2003 winner, Oklahoma quarterback

Eric Crouch, 2001 winner, Nebraska quarterback

Heisman winners with the shortest NFL careers

Miami quarterback Gino Torretta is pressured by an Alabama defender in the Sugar Bowl played in the New Orleans Superdome on Jan. 2, 1993. (Bill Feig/AP/File)

Gino Toretta, QB, Miami (1992 winner)

   2 games

Gary Beban, QB, UCLA (1967 winner)

   5 games

Billy Vessels, RB, Oklahoma (1952 winner)

   12 games

Johnny Lattner, RB, Notre Dame (1953 winner)

   12 games

Andre Ware, QB, Houston (1989 winner)

   14 games

Angelo Bertelli, QB, Notre Dame (1943 winner)

   16 games

Johnny Rodgers, WR, Nebraska (1972 winner)

   17 games

Terry Baker, QB, Oregon State (1962 winner)

   18 games

Troy Smith, QB, Ohio State (2006 winner)

   20 games

Davey O’Brien, QB, Texas Christian (1938 winner)

   22 games

Tom Harmon, RB, Michigan (1940 winner) 

   22 games

Vic Janowicz, RB, Ohio State (1950 winner)

   22 games

Heisman winners with the longest NFL/AFL careers

Tim Brown at Notre Dame in 1987. (AP)

Tim Brown, WR, Notre Dame (1987 winner): 255 games

Vinny Testaverde, QB, Miami (1986 winner): 233 games

Marcus Allen, RB, Southern Cal (1981 winner): 222 games

Charles Woodson, DB, Michigan (1997 winner): 218 games as of 12/2/13; still active with Oakland Raiders

Herschel Walker, RB, Georgia (1982 winner): 187 games

Tony Dorsett, RB, Pittsburgh (1976 winner): 173 games

Jim Plunkett, QB, Stanford (1970 winner): 157 games

Desmond Howard, WR, Michigan (1991 winner): 156 games

Barry Sanders, RB, Oklahoma State (1988 winner): 153 games

Eddie George, RB, Ohio State (1995 winner): 141 games

O.J. Simpson, RB, Southern Cal (1968 winner): 135 games

Billy Cannon, RB, Louisiana State (1959 winner): 133 games

Roger Staubach, QB, Navy (1963 winner): 131 games

Heisman winners who headed north

Boston College quarterback Doug Flutie posed with the Heisman Trophy in New York, Dec. 1, 1984. (RAY STUBBLEBINE/AP)

Heisman winners who played at least part of their professional careers in the Canadian Football League, by years of service:

Doug Flutie, 1984 winner

   8 CFL seasons (1990-97), named Most Outstanding Player six times

Johnny Rodgers, 1972 winner

   4 CFL seasons (1973-76)

Andre Ware, 1989 winner

   3 CFL seasons (1995-97)

Eric Crouch, 2001 winner

   2 CFL seasons (2006-07)

Billy Vessels, 1952 winner

   1 CFL season (1953), named Most Outstanding Player

Terry Baker, 1962 winner

   1 CFL season (1966)

Rashaan Salaam, 1994 winner

   1 CFL season (2004) – inactive and/or practice squad only

Ricky Williams, 1998 winner

   1 CFL season (2006)

Troy Smith, 2006 winner

   1 season (2013), still active

Shortest Heisman winners

Davey O'Brien, right, of Texas Christian University, receives the Heisman Memorial Award in New York City, Dec. 6, 1938, from Walter P. Holcombe, president of the Downtown Athletic Club. (AP)

QB Davey O’Brien, 1938 winner, Texas Christian

   5 ft. 7 in.

RB Nile Kinnick, 1939 winner, Iowa

   5 ft. 8 in.

RB Barry Sanders, 1988 winner, Oklahoma State

   5 ft. 8 in.

RB Glenn Davis, 1946 winner, Army

   5 ft. 9 in.

RB Joe Bellino, 1960 winner, Navy

   5 ft. 9 in.

RB Vic Janowicz, 1950 winner, Ohio State

   5 ft. 9 in.

RB Mike Garrett, 1965 winner, Southern Cal

   5 ft. 9 in.

RB Archie Griffin, 1974 and '75 winner, Ohio State

   5 ft. 9 in.

RB Mark Ingram, 2009 winner, Alabama

   5 ft. 9 in.

Tallest Heisman winners

Auburn quarterback Cam Newton looking for a receiver in a game Oct. 9, 2010, against Kentucky. (ED REINKE/AP/FILE)

QB Cam Newton, 2010 winner, Auburn

   6 ft. 5 in.

QB Matt Leinert, 2004 winner, Southern Cal

   6 ft. 5 in.

QB Carson Palmer, 2002 winner, Southern Cal

   6 ft. 5 in.

QB Chris Weinke, 2000 winner, Florida State

   6 ft. 5 in.

QB Vinny Testaverde, 1986 winner, Miami

   6 ft. 5 in.

QB Sam Bradford, 2008 winner, Oklahoma

   6 ft. 4 in.

End Leon Hart, 1949 winner, Notre Dame

   6 ft. 4 in.

Lightest Heisman winners

University of Iowa star halfback Nile Kinnick practices in Iowa City, Iowa, Nov. 2, 1939. (AP)

QB Davey O’Brien, 1938 winner, Texas Christian

   150 lbs.

RB Nile Kinnick, 1939 winner, Iowa

   170 lbs.

RB Glenn Davis, 1946 winner, Army

   170 lbs.

WR Desmond Howard, 1991 winner, Michigan

   170 lbs.

RB Dick Kazmaier, 1951 winner, Princeton

   171 lbs.  

QB Les Horvath, 1944 winner, Ohio State

   173 lbs.

RB Doak Walker, 1948 winner, Southern Methodist

   175 lbs.

Heaviest Heisman winners

Leon Hart, former Notre Dame end and All America, Nov. 9, 1950. (AP)

End Leon Hart, 1949 winner, Notre Dame

   260 lbs.

RB Ron Dayne, 1999 winner, Wisconsin

   252 lbs.

QB Cam Newton, 2010 winner, Auburn

   245 lbs.

RB Earl Campbell, 1977 winner, Texas

   244 lbs.

RB Eddie George, 1995 winner, Ohio State

   240 lbs.

QB Sam Bradford, 2008 winner, Oklahoma

   236 lbs.

QB Chris Weinke, 2000 winner, Florida State

   232 lbs.

QB Tim Tebow, 2007 winner, Florida

   232 lbs.

NCAA records held by Heisman winners

Oklahoma State running back Barry Sanders poses with the Heisman Trophy at New York's Marriott Marquis Hotel, Dec. 8, 1988. (SUSAN RAGAN/AP)

Heisman winners who own or share NCAA records, with number of records in parentheses

(One record shown per player)

Barry Sanders: 28 records

   1988 Heisman winner, Oklahoma State

   Most yards gained rushing in a season: 2,628

Ricky Williams: 8 records

   1998 Heisman winner, Texas

   Most yards gained rushing in two consecutive games: 668

Marcus Allen: 5 records

   1981 Heisman winner, Southern Cal

   Most games rushing for 200 or more yards in a season: 8

Andre Ware: 4 records

   1989 Heisman winner, Houston

   Most passing yards gained in a half:  517

Tim Tebow: 4 records

   2007 Heisman winner, Florida

   Most games scoring a touchdown in a career: 38

Johnny Manziel: 4 records

   2012 Heisman winner, Texas A&M

   Most yards gained by a freshman quarterback in a season: 1,410

Glenn Davis: 3 records

   1946 Heisman winner, Army

   Most yards gained per rush in a season (minimum 75 rushes): 11.51

Ty Detmer: 3 records

   1990 Heisman winner, Brigham Young

   Most consecutive games gaining 300 or more passing yards over a career: 24

Ron Dayne: 3 records

   1999 Heisman winner, Wisconsin

   Most yards gained rushing over a career: 6,397

Eric Crouch: 3 records

   2001 Heisman winner, Nebraska

   Most rushing touchdowns scored by a quarterback over a career: 59

Tony Dorsett: 2 records

   1976 Heisman winner, Pittsburgh

   Most seasons gaining 1,000 or more yards rushing: 4 (shares record)

Mike Rozier: 2 records

   1983 Heisman winner, Nebraska

   Most yards gained per rush over a season (minimum 215 rushes): 7.81

Archie Griffin: 1 record

   1974 and '75 winner, Ohio State

   Most consecutive games gaining 100 yards of more over a career: 31

Herschel Walker: 1 record

   1982 Heisman winner, Georgia

   Most seasons gaining 1,500 yards or more over a career: 3 (shares record)

Danny Wuerffel: 1 record

   1996 Heisman winner, Florida

   Most yards gained per completion over a season (minimum 205 completions): 17.5

Cam Newton: 1 record

   2010 Heisman winner, Auburn

   Scoring 20 touchdowns by rushing and receiving, and passing for 20 touchdowns in a season (shares record)

Robert Griffin III: 1 record

   2011 Heisman winner, Baylor

   Most consecutive passes attempted without an interception at the start of a career by a freshman: 209

Doc Blanchard: 1 record

   1945 Heisman winner, Army

   Most touchdowns and points scored by two players on the same team over a career: 97 TDs and 585 points (with teammate Glenn Davis, 1943-46)

Heisman winners currently in the NFL

Oakland Raiders cornerback Charles Woodson stands on the sideline during a game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Nov. 3, 2013. (MARCIO JOSE SANCHEZ/AP)

Charles Woodson, 16th season

   DB Oakland Raiders

Carson Palmer, 11th season

   QB Arizona Cardinals

Sam Bradford, 4th season

   QB St. Louis Rams

Cam Newton, 3rd season

   QB Carolina Panthers

Robert Griffin III, 2nd season

   QB Washington Redskins

(Tim Tebow and Matt Leinert are presently out of the NFL, but conceivably could be signed by a team needing a backup quarterback. Reggie Bush, who had to give back the 2005 Heisman Trophy because of NCAA violations, is a running back with the Detroit Lions.)

Nonsenior Heisman Trophy winners

Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, who in 2012 became the first freshman to ever win the Heisman Trophy. (DAVE EINSEL/AP/FILE)


Doc Blanchard, Army, 1945

Doak Walker, Southern Methodist, 1948

Vic Janowicz, Ohio State, 1950

Roger Staubach, Navy, 1963

Archie Griffin, Ohio State, 1974

Billy Sims, Oklahoma, 1978

Herschel Walker, Georgia, 1982

Barry Sanders, Oklahoma State, 1988

Andrew Ware, Houston, 1989

Ty Detmer, Brigham Young, 1990

Desmond Howard, Michigan, 1991

Rashaan Salaam, Colorado, 1994

Charles Woodson, Michigan, 1997

Jason White, Oklahoma, 2003

Matt Leinert, Southern Cal, 2004

Cam Newton, Auburn, 2010

Robert Griffin III, Baylor, 2011


Tim Tebow, Florida, 2007

Sam Bradford, Oklahoma, 2008

Mark Ingram, Alabama, 2009


Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M, 2012

Heisman winners who also kicked and/or punted

Tom Harmon, University of Michigan back, in action against Pennsylvania on Oct. 26, 1940. (AP)

Jay Berwanger, 1935 Heisman winner

   University of Chicago

Davey O’Brien, 1938 Heisman winner

   Texas Christian

Nile Kinnick, 1939 Heisman winner

   University of Iowa

Tom Harmon, 1940 Heisman winner

   University of Michigan

Les Horvath, 1944 Heisman winner

   Ohio State

Doc Blanchard, 1945 Heisman winner


Doak Walker, 1948 Heisman winner

   Southern Methodist

Vic Janowicz, 1950 Heisman winner

   Ohio State

Paul Hornung, 1956 Heisman winner

   Notre Dame

Billy Cannon, 1959 Heisman winner

   Louisiana State

Heisman winners who were top overall NFL draft picks

Billy Cannon, Louisiana State University's All-America halfback, during an 89-yard punt return for a touchdown in 1959. (AP/FILE)

Jay Berwanger, in 1936 by the Philadelphia Eagles

Tom Harmon, in 1941 by the Chicago Bears

Frank Sinkwich, in 1943 by the Detroit Lions

Angelo Bertelli, in 1944 by the long-defunct Boston Yanks

Leon Hart, in 1950 by the Detroit Lions

Paul Hornung, in 1957 by the Green Bay Packers

Billy Cannon, in 1960 by the Los Angeles Rams

Ernie Davis, in 1962 by the Washington Redskins

Terry Baker, in 1963 by the Los Angeles Rams

O.J. Simpson, in 1969 by the Buffalo Bills

Jim Plunkett, in 1971 by the New England Patriots

Earl Campbell, in 1978 by the Houston Oilers

Billy Sims, in 1980 by the Detroit Lions

George Rogers, in 1981 by the New Orleans Saints

Bo Jackson, in 1986 by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Vinny Testaverde, in 1987 by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Carson Palmer, in 2003 by the Cincinnati Bengals

Sam Bradford, in 2010 by the St. Louis Rams

Cam Newton, in 2011 by the Carolina Panthers

Heisman winners in the Pro Football Hall of Fame

Roger Staubach, Navy quarterback, posing with the Heisman trophy in New York, Dec. 11, 1963. (JACOB HARRIS/AP/FILE)

Of the eight players enshrined in Canton, Ohio, for their pro achievements, only two are former college quarterbacks, Staubach and Hornung, and only Staubach played quarterback in the NFL. Staubach’s road to NFL stardom was made more difficult by having to spend three years in military service before suiting up for the Dallas Cowboys, for whom he played 11 years. While in the Navy, though, he played on various service teams.

Roger Staubach (elected 1985)

O.J. Simpson (elected 1985)

Paul Hornung (elected 1986)

Doak Walker (elected 1986)

Earl Campbell (elected 1991)

Tony Dorsett (elected 1994)

Marcus Allen (elected 2003)

Barry Sanders (elected 2004)

Snack pack of Heisman trivia

Detroit Lions running back Reggie Bush is the only Heisman winner ever stripped of the award. (RICK OSENTOSKI/AP)

Five Heisman winners played collegiately in the cities where they were born: SMU’s Doak Walker of Dallas (1948 winner); Ohio State’s Howard Cassady (1955) and Archie Griffin (1974 and ’75) of Columbus, Ohio; and Southern Cal’s Mike Garrett (1965) and Charles White (1979) of Los Angeles.

Notre Dame quarterback Paul Hornung is still the only Heisman winner who played for a losing team. The Fighting Irish were 2-8 in 1956. Hornung was a multithreat player, but by today’s standards his statistics are relatively modest. He completed 59 of 111 passes, three for touchdowns, and ran for 420 yards on 94 carries.

Jay Berwanger, the first Heisman winner in 1935, passed up a $15,000 contract offer from George Halas to play for the Chicago Bears. Instead, he took a job with a Chicago rubber company and served as a part-time coach at his alma mater, the University of Chicago. Partly, he did so to retain his amateur status in hopes of possibly competing in the decathlon at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Later he expressed regret about not giving pro football a try. He reportedly used his Heisman Trophy as a doorstop.

Davey O’Brien is the only Heisman winner with an award that bears his name: the Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award, presented to the nation’s top college quarterback since 1981. The Davey O’Brien Foundation is based in Fort Worth, Texas, where O’Brien played for Texas Christian.

Only three Heisman winners ever went undrafted by the National Football League: Pete Dawkins, Charlie Ward, and Jason White. Dawkins, the 1958 Heisman winner, played for Army and fulfilled a military commitment after graduating from West Point. Ward, the 1993 Heisman winner, elected a pro basketball career, which lasted 10 NBA seasons. Jason White, the 2003 Heisman winner, eventually signed as a free agent with the Tennessee Titans, but he didn’t think his knees could withstand the pounding and moved on to a business career.

In 1997, Michigan defensive back Charles Woodson became the first predominantly defensive player to win the Heisman Trophy.

This year’s Michigan quarterback, Devin Gardner, has worn jersey No. 98, as a tribute to Tom Harmon (“Ole 98), the Wolverines Heisman Trophy-winning halfback in 1940. After his college playing career, Harmon was a World War II pilot. His actress wife, Elyse Knox, wove part of the parachute that saved him when his plane was shot down into her wedding dress. War injuries were a factor in his short career with the Los Angeles Rams but helped focus his attention on a successful sportscasting career, making him a trailblazer in making a transition from playing field to broadcast booth. His son, Mark, played quarterback at UCLA. After college he turned to acting and is the star of the TV series “NCIS: Naval Criminal Investigative Service."

Heisman winners have been born in 25 different states, but Calfornia easily leads the way with 13 winners. Two recent winners were born overseas, Tim Tebow in Philippines, while his parents were missionaries, and Robert Griffin III, in Japan, where his parents were stationed in the military.

The only nonmajor city to claim two Heisman winners is Tyler, Texas, where both Earl Campbell (“The Tyler Rose”) and Johnny Manziel were born.

The Oakland Raiders have been a frequent destination for Heisman winners. Seven have played for the silver and black (Billy Cannon, Jim Plunkett, Marcus Allen, Bo Jackson, Desmond Howard, Tim Brown, and Charles Woodson). Two other Heisman winners – Andre Ware and Rashaan Salaam – were with the Raiders in the offseason or during training camp, but they didn’t ever play for the team.

Only two players have finished second in the Heisman balloting in back-to-back years: North Carolina’s Charlie “Choo Choo” Justice in 1948 and 1949, and Stanford’s Andrew Luck in 2010 and 2011.

The only time the Heisman has ever been retracted, and the award vacated, was in 2005, after it was determined that Southern Cal’s Reggie Bush had broken NCAA rules by accepting cash and other gifts. He, ironically, received the highest vote total of all time. In the pros, he has been a model citizen committed to outreach efforts in two distressed cities, New Orleans and Detroit.

Despite serving prison time for kidnapping and armed robbery convictions, O.J. Simpson is still listed as the 1968 Heisman winner. While the Heisman cites a person’s integrity as a consideration in voting, as long as a winner doesn’t break NCAA rules, the conclusion seems to be that he can keep the trophy (which is actually a replica). In Simpson’s case, though, he sold the trophy in 1999 at auction.

Four Heisman winners have been Super Bowl MVPs: Roger Staubach, Jim Plunkett, Marcus Allen, and Desmond Howard.

Iowa’s Nile Kinnick is the only Heisman winner honored with a stadium that bears his name, Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City. Kinnick was a two-way ironman on the field, averaging 57 minutes per game during his 1939 Heisman season.  A Phi Beta Kappa and student body president, the "Cornbelt Comet" entered law school rather than play football, but after a year of postgraduate studies he entered the Naval Air Reserve. In 1943 he was killed when forced to ditch his plane in the waters while training to become a fighter pilot.

The most nationally visible former Heisman winner today is probably Desmond Howard of Michigan, who has been an ESPN GameDay analyst for the past nine seasons. His 99-yard kickoff return against the Patriots in 1997 remains a Super Bowl record.