Have you ever wondered how many black Heisman winners there were? Well the NewsOne Team searched the web and couldn’t find a list. So we made one for you! Officially, there are 27. Unofficially, there are 28. (Reggie Bush of USC forfeited his 2005 trophy in 2010) Eight Heisman trophies went to black players in the 1980s alone.
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Tweny-one were running backs, four were quarterbacks, two were wide receivers, and one was a defensive back. USC produced the most black Heisman trophy winners with five- all of whom were running backs.
Below is a list of black players who took home N.C.A.A. Football’s highest honor.
The first African-American Heisman Trophy winner in 1961, Davis paved the way for a generation of black Heisman hopefuls to come. He was selected as the first overall draft pick in the 1962 NFL draft, the first African American to be so honored. Tragically, he was diagnosed acute monocytic leukemia in the summer of 1962 and died in May of 1963 at age 23. Davis never played a down of N.F.L football.
Garrett won the Heisman in 1965 as a tailback with USC. From 1993-2010, he was USC’s athletic director.
“The Juice,” as he was so affectionately nicknamed, was perhaps the first celebrity African American Heisman winner. He won the award in 1968 after his senior year at University of Southern California. O.J. went on to have a Hall Of Fame career in the N.F.L. and became one of the most recognized and marketable professional athletes of his era.
Rodgers won the Heisman back in 1972 at the University of Nebraska. He played wingback, which is a player on the field who can line up as a receiver or take hand-offs as a running back. He was convicted of grand larceny in 1971 for robbing a gas station. Rodgers is the only Heisman winner to have been convicted of a felony before receiving the award.
Griffin was the first player ever to start in four Rose Bowls and is college football’s only two-time Heisman Trophy winner. He was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals in the 1976 N.F.L. draft with the 24th overall pick but did not duplicate his college success at the next level.
Dorsett became an All-American running back during his freshman year at the University of Pittsburgh. He capped off his stellar college career with an N.C.A.A. Championship and Heisman trophy in 1976. Dorsett went on to have a extra-ordinary career with the Dallas Cowboys and Denver Broncos. He was enshrined in the N.F.L. Hall of Fame in 1994.
The University of Texas star won the Heisman Trophy in 1977 and went on be considered one of the most bruising running backs in the history of the N.F.L. He was enshrined in the N.F.L. Hall of Fame in 1991.
A running back at Oklahoma, Sims won the award in 1978.
Another USC running back great, White won the Heisman back in 1979.
Rogers won the Heisman in 1980 as a star running back for the South Carolina Gamecocks.
Another one of those great USC running backs who went on to the N.F.L. to have a Hall of Fame career.
The former running back at the University of Georgia won the Heisman in 1982. He went to play for several N.F.L. teams to rack up 8,225 rushing yards, 4,859 receiving yards, and 5,084 kickoff-return yards in 12 seasons. He also has 84 touchdowns: 61 rushing, 21 receiving and two kick off returns for touchdowns.
A running back at Nebraska, Rozier won the Heisman in 1983.
One of the greatest athletes ever, Jackson won the Heisman in 1985. His career was cut short due to injures. But even during his short N.F.L. career, Jackson showed all of the indicators he ready for greatness. He played professional baseball when he wasn’t running over linebackers.
Bo Jackson Highlights:
Tim Brown was the first wide receiver to win the Heisman Trophy. The Notre Dame standout electrified almost every game he played in and took his skills to the next level where he spent 16 years building a Hall of Fame N.F.L. career.
There are few college Heisman Trophy winners who can say their professional careers were superior to their college days. Barry Sanders is one of the few who can. The ease with which the Sanders juked his opponents at the college level was eye dropping enough. But when he joined the Detroit Lions, he seemed to get even more freakishly insane with his angle-breaking moves. Check out the video below if you’re feeling nostalgic for old number 20.
Barry Sanders Detroit Lions Highlights Video:
Ware was the first black quarterback to win the Heisman trophy in 1989. As a junior at the University of Houston, he threw for 4,699 yards, 44 touchdowns, and set 26 NCAA records. He was drafted by the Detroit Lions but washed out at the professional level. Right now, he is a radio broadcaster in Houston.
Howard, known for the iconic Heisman pose in the endzone during the 1991 Michigan-Ohio State game, brought a dignity and class to the award that sets the standard that every Heisman alum should strive for. Though he did not have a Hall Of Fame career in the N.F.L., he did have his moments. He led the N.F.L. in punt returns, punt return yards and punt return average and touchdowns during the 1996 season.
Desmond Howard Heisman Pose Video:
The former Florida State Seminole had a flare about him that had his fans praying he’d take his quarterbacking skills to the next level. He opted for a basketball career instead. His N.B.A. career was a successful one.
Saleem enjoyed one of the best college careers as a running back ever rushing for more than 2,000 years at the University of Colorado and wining the Heisman Trophy in 1994. He was drafted by the Chicago Bears in 1995 and ran for 1,000 yards and ten touchdowns. during his rookie campaign. But injuries ended his career early and he never met up to the high expectations placed upon him.
A Heisman Trophy winner in 1995 at Ohio State University , George went on to have an excellent professional career with the Tennessee Titans before injures ended it early. His numbers-10,441 rushing yards, 268 receptions, 2,227 receiving yards, and 78 touchdowns (68 rushing and ten receiving)-are arguably Hall of Fall worthy.
The only defensive player to win the Heisman, the Michigan Wolverine showed that defensive prowess is as critical to team success as great quarterbacking. And Woodson didn’t disappoint us when he got to the N.F.L., either. He is still a shutdown cornerback who should make the Hall of Fame soon after he hangs up his jersey in Green Bay.
The University of Texas star is perhaps better known for his wedding dress cover on Sports Illustrated than for his prowess on the football field. His on-again, off-again football career has been dogged with drug use and mental health issues. He is currently playing with the Baltimore Ravens.
The former Badger holds the N.C.A.A. record for career rushing yards. He is currently a free agent in the N.F.L and has enjoyed a successful, but not star-studded career.
Easily the most electrifying running back of the past ten years, the USC running back ripped apart the best defenses in college football. While the N.C.A.A. may have wiped Bush’s name off of the record books, YouTube will keep his ESPN highlight performances etched in our memories for years to come. Officially, Bush is off of the record books as a Heisman winner because he forfeited his trophy in 2010 amid mounting allegations he took favors while at USC.
Reggie Bush USC Highlights
One of the few black quarterbacks to win the award, Smith led the Buckeyes to the N.C.A.A. National Championship game in 2006. But he was another college star who could not duplicate his success at the professional level. He is currently playing with the Omaha Nighthawks of the United Football League.
Ingram, who won the Heisman as a sophomore running back in 2009, set the Crimson Tide’s single-season rushing record with 1,658 yards and was voted to the AP All-America first-team. He helped Alabama win the 2010 BCS National Championship Game. He is currently playing with the New Orleans Saints.
He was the guy many in the mainstream media wanted to hate. The Heisman everyone thought would surely bust as soon as he pulled an N.F.L. jersey over his shoulder pads. Well, the first year quarterback is leading the Carolina Panthers as well as any veteran could and will surely be Rookie of the Year at season’s end.
The quarterback from Baylor won the Heisman trophy on December 10th, 2011, becoming the school’s first winner ever. Griffin has yet to officially declare for the N.F.L. draft.