Heisman Winner's Biggest Change-of-Direction Move
IF enrollment at Fort Union Military Academy in Virginia shoots up next year, don't be surprised. The school got lots of mentions over the weekend when Fort Union alumnus Eddie George accepted college football's Heisman Trophy in a nationally televised ceremony at New York's Downtown Athletic Club.
Running the ball at Ohio State University won him selection as the ''outstanding'' college player, but George probably made his most significant change of direction at Fort Union, where his mother had sent him to correct his lazy, disrespectful ways. By the time he went to Ohio State, George had a work ethic that would not quit and a determination to fulfill a dream planted at age eight to win the Heisman.
Many had predicted that this year's Heisman balloting by 921 mostly media voters would be among the closest in history (the award dates to 1934). But in the end, George held a comfortable margin over the other four players invited to New York for the announcement.
In order, the runners-up were Nebraska quarterback Tommie Frazier, University of Florida QB Danny Wuerffel, Northwestern University running back Darnell Autry, and Iowa State running back Troy Davis.
Davis, a sophomore, was the only major-college player to gain more than 2,000 yards (2,010 to be exact), and every other player to reach that milestone has won the trophy - Barry Sanders, Marcus Allen, Mike Rozier, and last year's winner, Rashaan Salaam.
Davis, however, is only a sophomore and the Heisman has traditionally gone to seniors. Then, too, he played for a losing 3-8 team. Notre Dame's Paul Hornung in 1956 is the only player on a losing team to win the trophy and he, of course, played for one of most glamorous programs in America.
Davis's gaudy rushing statistics in some ways seem all the more impressive given Iowa State's 3-8 record, and in no small feat he managed 100-yard games against such powers as Nebraska and Colorado.
Interestingly, Davis almost left Iowa State after his freshman year, when he ran the ball only 35 times. New Cyclones coach Dan McCarney was only too happy to let Davis be the main man, though, and he had 40 carries in the season opener alone.
In another year, perhaps, Davis's 2,000 total might have swayed more Heisman voters. George, however, had 1,826 yards himself, and many believe he could have broken the 2,000-yard barrier if left in games longer. He also plays on an 11-1 team that now faces Tennessee in the Citrus Bowl.