Somewhere in America, right now, a group of people are not worried about the NBA Finals. Instead, they are talking about the upcoming college football season. They are probably talking about who the national championship contenders might be, the disdain for Alabama, and predicting the next Heisman winner.
The winner of the Heisman is known not only as a game changer, but as a winner as well. It is a very elite group of collegiate athletes that, seemingly, likes to vote for new blood to enter their inner circle as opposed to voting for a player to be a multi-recipient of the award. Players such as Archie Griffin, who is the only two-time winner, and Tim Tebow are players that come to mind instantly when someone mentions the Heisman. and Reggie Bush, who technically never won it, looked like he was straight out of a video game with the sliders turned up and he will always be remembered for what he did too.
Let’s take a look and rank the Heisman winners in the last decade.
10. Derrick Henry
Coming into the 2015 season, Henry was an afterthought in regards to winning the Heisman. The general consensus was that arch-rival LSU’s premiere back, Leonard Fournette, would “runaway” with the highly coveted individual achievement. However, when LSU played Bama, Henry showed up and Fournette did not and the the rest is history. The Crimson Tide star ended the season with 2,219 rushing yards and 28 touchdowns, both SEC records.
9. Sam Bradford
Bradford led one of the most exciting teams of all-time in Oklahoma. The Sooners were the highest-scoring team in NCAA history (716 total points). They scored no fewer than 35 points per game prior to the BCS National Championship against Florida. At the time, he set school records in passing yardage with 4,270 and 50 touchdowns, that record remains, on his way to capturing the Heisman.
8. Baker Mayfield
Another Sooner quarterback, like Bradford, except he differs in his persona. Mayfield’s winning campaign was filled with drama and excitement. The most infamous moments were when he slammed the Sooners’ flag on the Buckeyes logo as well as the crotch grab against the Jayhawks. He had many naysayers due to his antics and winning ways. He threw for 4,627 yards, 43 touchdowns, and rushed for five touchdowns. His sideline and post game antics kept him in the media more than his stats did and the media could not get enough of him. He was the rock star we love to hate.
7. Mark Ingram
The Tide have more national titles, eight, than Heisman winners, two. Nevertheless, with all the winning they do, Bama always seems to have a player hovering around the Heisman’s Watch list. The first winner for them was Ingram. He was the focal point in 2010 when they went undefeated and won the national championship . Ingram rushed for 1,658 yards, which was a school record at the time. He displayed speed, power, and his underrated ability to shake defenders. All of which landed him the stiff-arm throwing trophy.
6. Marcus Mariota
Speed, flash, and sheer wizardry helped Mariota will his way to a Heisman trophy. His junior year was one of those seasons that you read about that sounds unrealistic. The Hawaiian native did whatever needed through the air and on the ground. He passed for 4,454 yards, rushed for 770 yards, and finished with 57 total touchdowns. Heck, he even caught a touchdown pass that year. He was one of the winners that had the whole country rooting for him too as he was a silent assassin. He received 90.9 percent of the total points to receive the award because of his play. The Oregon Ducks uniforms were great too.
5. Lamar Jackson
Jackson is what you would call Mariota on steroids. A better comparison that does not involve illegal substances is a modern day Michael Vick. His explosiveness made the game seem so much slower to him than real life. Jackson had 1,571 rushing yards and 3,500 passing yards, which are numbers you only see if you are playing the NCAA video game. He even scored 42 total touchdowns for good measure. His Heisman winning season was so amazing and eye-catching that his junior campaign went underappreciated.
4. Robert Griffin III
If you like high scoring and long passes, then you would have liked Griffin III. The Baylor Bears shocked the world due in large to the play of one RG3. They went from being the doormat of college football to winning 10 games in 2011. Every week he was throwing for ridiculous numbers and his team was scoring even crazier numbers. The team averaged 45.3 points per game. In the Alamo Bowl, they put up 67. Up until then, the Heisman had been an award given to a player competing for the national championship. RG3’s 4,293 passing yards, 699 rushing yards, and 47 total scores were too much to ignore.
3. Jameis Winston
Another player who was amazing on the field, but had character issues and misunderstandings off the field was Florida State Seminoles’ leader Winston. He was the second freshman to win the award and he did it in eloquent fashion. When Winston was on the field, no matter what the score was, FSU always had a chance to win with his quick decision making. Winston passed for over 4,000 yards and 40 touchdowns as that was enough to get the hardware despite his inability to run the ball. The Seminoles propensity to blow teams out and Winston’s clutch moments, versus Clemson and Auburn, made him immortal in FSU history.
2. Johnny Manziel
While at Texas A&M, Manziel was money just like the “ATM” letters he wore on his helmet every week. Simply put, he was lightning in a bottle as he changed the complexion of college football. Manziel made it to where coaches had to recruit faster defensive linemen to contain him or he would burn them. The year he won the Heisman he became the first freshman to do so as no one had ever seen a player do what he did. Johnny Football racked up 1,410 rushing yards and over 3,700 passing yards. His “Heisman Moment” came against Alabama when he lost the ball and found his receiver in the end zone for a touchdown, upsetting the Crimson Tide.
1. Cam Newton
Newtonwill forever be immortalized in the college ranks. He did it all in 2010 as he won the national championship, Heisman, and he beat Bama while trailing at the half to keep those championship and Heisman hopes alive. He could run the ball, he could pass, he could motivate his team, and he could probably paint your fence if you needed the work done. Newton was just that good. It was almost unfair because at quarterback he was bigger than linebackers and even some d-linemen. His lone season at Auburn was legendary as he rushed for 20 touchdowns and threw for 30 more.