For college football players, the Heisman Trophy is the ultimate goal they strive for. It is the highest individual honor a player can receive and one of the most iconic trophies in sports. But it’s not easy to become a Heisman Trophy winner — only one person gets the trophy each year.
The list of Heisman winners includes legendary players like Roger Staubach, Earl Campbell, and Barry Sanders. The award was first given in 1935. Since then, only one player has won the Heisman Trophy multiple times. But some players have come close to winning it twice and even three times.
Heisman Trophy voting
Like with many awards in sports, the winner is determined through a vote. The voting contingent consists of 870 media members, prior winners, and fans through an online poll. For the media and past winners who vote, they each select their top three candidates in order.
A first-place vote nets a player three points, a second-place vote is worth two points, and third place gets one point. The online vote counts as one vote. The player with the highest overall score wins the award, and accounting firm Deloitte tabulates the scores.
The only two-time Heisman Trophy winner
To date, there has only been one two-time Heisman Trophy winner, Ohio State‘s Archie Griffin. Playing for the Buckeyes from 1972-75, the running back scored 27 touchdowns in his college career, including one receiving. Griffin had his best season as a junior, running for 1,695 yards and 12 touchdowns. Ohio State won the Big Ten title during all four of his seasons, and he became the first player ever to start in four Rose Bowl games.
Griffin finished fifth in Heisman voting in his sophomore season, when John Cappelletti won. But the running back came back to win as a junior and senior, capturing nearly 60% of the available points each season. Griffin went on to be enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame in 1986, and Ohio State retired his No. 45 in 1999.
NFL players who almost won multiple Heismans
While Griffin is the only player to win more than one Heisman Trophy, some players have come close to duplicating the feat:
- Paul Giel: The former Minnesota tailback finished third in voting in 1952 and second in 1953. But he was just 252 total points away from winning the trophy those two seasons.
- Colt McCoy: The former Texas quarterback was the runner-up in 2008 and the third-place finisher in 2009. He was 310 points away from winning in both seasons.
- Ken Dorsey: A quarterback at Miami (FL) from 1999-2002, Dorsey finished in the top five in voting his last season in the NCAA, falling 817 points short of winning two Heismans.
- Glenn Davis: Former Army halfback Glenn Davis only won one Heisman, in 1946. But, in terms of points, he came closer to winning three Heismans than anyone else. Davis was 347 points away from the trophy in 1944 and 1945, which could have given him a threepeat.
Will there ever be another multiple Heisman winner?
It will be hard for another player to ever win more than one Heisman. College football players are such good athletes these days that there is too much competition.
Plus, many players who anticipate being high draft picks leave college after their junior year to go to the NFL. This gives them a smaller chance at a Heisman, especially given that it’s rare that a freshman or sophomore wins the trophy — it has happened just six times in the award’s history.