By Sam Morris
Sam Morris is from Madison Heights, Michigan, and is an undergraduate student at BGSU majoring in Sports Management. He has a passion for sports writing and journalism. In his free time, he also performs, writes, and produces his own raps for the music industry club at BGSU.
November 23, 2022
History and Statistical Overview of the Heisman Trophy
The Heisman Trophy is given to the best player in FBS College football and is currently determined by 928 votes from sports journalists across the country as well as former Heisman winners. University of Chicago running back Jay Berwanger received the first award that was presented in 1935 by New York’s Downtown Athletic Club; it was therefore originally called the D.A.C trophy. The following year, the award was renamed after the club’s director John Heisman, the former head football coach of Oberlin College, Washington and Jefferson, Akron, Rice, Penn, Georgia Tech, Auburn, and Clemson. When he died in 1936, the award was named the Heisman Trophy .
In the history of the award, position wise, there have only been 1 defensive back (Charles Woodson), 2 defensive ends (Larry Kelley and Leon Hart), 3 fullbacks (Doc Blanchard, Alan Ameche, and Steve Owens), and 4 wide receivers (Johnny Rodgers, Desmond Howard, Tim Brown, and DeVonta Smith) to win the award. The positions that have the most Heisman award winners are quarterbacks (36 recipients), and running backs (40 winners). More recently, 16 of the last 20 Heisman candidates have been quarterbacks as the position continues to dominate the game from a statistical perspective. Out of the 86 Heisman winners, 23 have gone on to the NFL to become the 1st overall draft pick, 25 have gone between the 2nd and 10th picks, 17 have gone between the 11th and 32nd picks in the first round, and 21 have gone in the later rounds or have decided not to play in the NFL. The teams that have the most Heisman winners include Notre Dame, Ohio State, and Oklahoma with 7 winners each, USC with 6 winners, Alabama with 4 winners, and Army, Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Michigan, and Nebraska with 3 winners each. Another interesting fact about the Heisman trophy is that running back Archie Griffin from Ohio State University is the only player to win the award twice and running back Reggie Bush is the only player to have his Heisman award vacated following his recruiting violations with USC.
Like the MVP trophies of professional sport leagues, the Heisman Trophy comes with controversy as the exact criteria needed to win the award is often unclear. Some journalists vote based on statistical categories alone, others pick the player who was the biggest reason his team succeeded and therefore wouldn’t have been successful without him. Because of this variation it is often difficult to predict the Heisman winner. With a week and a half before the award is announced, the current Heisman hopefuls and reasons why each could win the award are listed below.
Blake Corum (RB) (Michigan)
HT: 5’8 WT: 210 CLASS: Junior
Carries: 245 Rushing Yds: 1,457 Avg Rush/Car: 590 Total TD: 19
Receptions: 11 Receiving Yards: 80
Remaining Schedule (11-0)
@ (11-0) 2. Ohio State
Although he is the only running back on this list, Corum is a strong candidate for the Heisman because he has the 3rd highest rushing yards in the FBS and is tied for 2nd in the FBS for rushing touchdowns. Corum also makes up the majority (52%) of Michigan’s 4th ranked rushing offense, which proves that he is one of the main reasons that they are undefeated. Corum is so important to Michigan’s offense that when he went down with an injury against Illinois their rushing offense stalled. Luckily, for Corum and Michigan, it appears that the injury is not too serious to keep him from playing against Ohio State. In this weekend’s rivalry game against 2nd ranked Ohio State, he will be playing rival Heisman candidate C.J Stroud, which could potentially boost Corum’s Heisman chances if he has a better individual performance than Stroud.
Hendon Hooker (QB) (Tennessee)
HT: 6’4 WT: 220 CLASS: Redshirt Senior
Carries: 104 Rushing Yds: 403 Avg Rush/Car: 4.1 Total TD: 32
Comp %: 69.6% Passing Yds: 3,135 INT: 2
Remaining Schedule (9-2)
@ (5-6) Vanderbilt
Hooker had been the leader for the Heisman race in Vegas for much of the season; however, he recently lost pretty badly to #1-ranked Georgia and unranked South Carolina which will effect his Heisman resume as 2 players on this list are undefeated. The biggest issue with Hooker is that the injury he suffered against South Carolina could put him out for the season which would have a massive impact on his chances of winning the award. Hooker is still an extremely strong candidate as he has the 5th highest completion percentage in FBS, ranks 11th in passing yards, and has the best TD/Int ratio in the FBS. His experience as a redshirt senior comes through in his low turnovers as Hooker sat out his first year when he was at Virginia Tech and also got an extra year of eligibility from the COVID year, making him older (24) than almost the entire previous NFL draft class.
Drake Maye (QB) (North Carolina)
HT: 6’4 WT: 220 CLASS: Redshirt Freshman
Carries: 147 Rushing Yds: 597 Avg Rush/Car: 4.1 Total TD: 39
Comp %: 68.8% Passing Yds: 3,614 INT: 4
Remaining Schedule (9-2)
VS. (7-4) 17. NC State
Maye is the catalyst for a UNC offense that has scored more than 30 points in all but one of their first 11 games of the season. With 1 regular season game left and an ACC Championship game vs. Clemson, Maye’s candidacy is built on the fact that despite being a redshirt freshman he ranks 3rd in the FBS in passing yards, 3rd in passing TDs, and 10th in completion percentage, making him the only QB in the FBS to rank in the top 10 of all 3 categories.
Bo Nix (QB) (Oregon)
HT: 6’2 WT: 215 CLASS: Senior
Carries: 80 Rushing Yds: 513 Avg Rush/Car: 6.4 Total TD: 40 (14 rushing)
Comp %: 72.4% Passing Yds: 3,062 INT: 6
Remaining Schedule (9-2)
@ (8-3) Oregon State
Despite getting brutally destroyed (49-3) against Georgia in the opening week, Nix, a transfer from Auburn, has led the Ducks to 8 straight wins before losing to Washington. This includes impressive wins over ranked conference opponents, UCLA and Utah. While Nix has a tough schedule ahead of him with rival Oregon State and a potential matchup against USC in the conference championship, he is more than capable of winning the Heisman. He currently ranks 1st in the FBS for completion percentage, 15th for passing touchdowns, 1st of all Quarterbacks for rushing touchdowns, 5th out of all positions for rushing touchdowns, and 16th in passing yards. He is also the only quarterback on this list to have a receiving touchdown this season.
C.J Stroud (QB) (Ohio State)
HT: 6’3 WT: 220 CLASS: Junior
Carries: 33 Rushing Yds: 77 Avg Rush/Car: 2.3 Total TD: 35
Comp %: 66.4% Passing Yds: 2,991 INT: 4
Remaining Schedule (11-0)
VS. (11-0) 3. Michigan
Currently, C.J Stroud has the shortest odds to win according to Vegas. He plays in a huge market school at Ohio State and gets a plethora of media attention. While his statistics aren’t as good as other QB’s on this list, they are still impressive, as he ranks 24th in completion percentage, is tied for 1st in passing touchdowns, and 18th in passing yards. Stroud will have a tough test against Michigan but could improve his Heisman resume greatly with a good performance.
Caleb Williams (QB) (USC)
HT: 6’1 WT: 215 CLASS: Sophomore
Carries: 88 Rushing Yds: 316 Avg Rush/Car: 3.6 Total TD: 40
Comp %: 64.9% Passing Yds: 3,480 INT: 3
Remaining Schedule (10-1)
VS (8-3) 20. Notre Dame
Williams has one of the toughest remaining schedules as he plays rival Notre Dame in his final regular season game and then awaits either Bo Nix and Oregon, Washington, or Utah (who has already defeated USC). However, like other candidates on this list, if Williams takes care of business against those teams, his Heisman hopes could improve. An Oklahoma transfer who came with Lincoln Riley, Williams has the worst completion percentage of any quarterback on this list, ranking 39th in the FBS, but ranks 4th in the FBS for passing touchdowns and 6th in passing yards.
While Stroud is the betting favorite, his statistical numbers are overall the worst of the 5 quarterbacks in terms of rushing and passing yards. However, his ability to lead his team to an undefeated record so far, and the fact that he is doing it on a big media stage will garner a lot of votes. Corum’s team is also undefeated, and he is by far the biggest reason for their perfect record. When he came out of the Illinois game due to injury, the Michigan offense fell apart in his absence. Corum’s injury is a slight concern, but he will almost certainly play against Ohio State as there is so much significance in that game for Michigan’s season. Corum will need to beat Stroud and Ohio State to get serious Heisman attention as a running back hasn’t won the award since Derrick Henry won in 2015. As for Williams, his completion percentage is the main concern, but he has great statistical numbers otherwise and will play massive opponents his next two weeks to prove himself.
Hooker’s candidacy has taken a turn for the worse as his high statistical numbers at the beginning of the season have come back to earth with two late season losses, and his injury vs South Carolina will likely end his season. Lastly, Nix and Maye are two names that aren’t getting as much attention but have put up some of the best numbers in the league statistically. Nix’s ability to rank in the top 15 in both passing and rushing touchdowns is truly unique but he does have 2 losses. Maye’s ability to score so many points almost singlehandedly is also impressive, but his loss to Georgia Tech is a concern. Maye’s ACC Championship against Clemson’s top-notch defense will be a huge factor in determining whether he wins the award; he is the only FBS player to rank in the top 10 in completion percentage, passing touchdowns, and passing yards this season.
After reviewing these 6 candidates, it is safe to say that with just over a week left in the regular season, it is still a close Heisman race that will largely depend on whether these candidates can keep performing at high levels, and if they can take their teams to conference championships and/or the college football playoff.