While there’s some luck involved with recruiting and development, it’s no mistake that the schools with many Heisman winners include several of the biggest programs in college football. In the end, some of the schools with the most Heiman talent may surprise you.
College football programs that nearly made the Heisman list
Six different schools have produced three Heisman winners: Army, Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Michigan, and Nebraska. From Cam Newton and Bo Jackson out of Auburn to Tim Tebow out of Florida, the names run the gamut of NFL icons and college stars who didn’t quite pan out. Some, like Jamis Winston, are still finding their place in the NFL.
USC*: 6 Heisman Trophy winners
*USC would be higher on the list had Reggie Bush not vacated his Heisman Trophy following the scandal involving the college football star getting improper benefits from boosters while at the school. Still, while Bush’s name may have been stripped from the official books, we can’t deny that he did hold the award at one time.
In spite of Bush, USC’s Matt Leinart, Carson Palmer, Marcus Allen, Charles White, OJ Simpson, and Mike Garrett all won the award in a 40-year time span. The fact that Simpson is still on the list while Bush is not says something about the NCAA’s priorities.
Ohio State: 6 Heisman Trophy winners
Ohio State’s six Heisman winners come with a special caveat thanks to Archie Griffin. The college football star remains the only player in the history of the award to be named Heisman winner two years in a row. As more players split for the NFL sooner, he may keep this award for years to come.
On top of Griffin, five other names show that Ohio State has produced winners throughout several eras. Les Horvath and Vic Janowicz kicked off the ’40s and ’50s with wins. Howard Cassady won in 1955. Griffin was next, followed by a win by Eddie George in 1995 and Troy Smith in 2006. If history taught us one thing, it’s that Ohio is due for another winner.
Oklahoma: 7 Heisman Trophy winners
Oklahoma slid from two behind in the all-time rankings to tied for the lead in the last two seasons. Their ability to attract reigning Heisman winner Kyler Murray and former winner Baker Mayfield shows the program’s superiority. Interestingly, the last two Heisman winners also came to Oklahoma via transfers from Texas Tech and Texas A&M, respectively.
Before those two, it’d been nearly a decade since a Sooner won the trophy (since Sam Bradford in 2008). Jason White won in 2003, but we have to go back decades for the other three names. Billy Sims won in 1978, Steve Owens in 1969, and Billy Vessels in 1952. If Jalen Hurts keeps up his season, too, the Sooners may top the rankings again.
Notre Dame: 7 Heisman Trophy winners
Despite being on top of the list, Notre Dame’s winners are mostly from a bygone era. Tim Brown was the last player to win the award in 1987, and he went on to have a Hall of Fame NFL career to go with his Hall of Fame collegiate one. Before Brown, however, the list goes back another 23 years.
John Huarte won the 1964 Heisman trophy, and the names before him all won within a 13-year period of each other. The first Irish player to win the award was Angelo Bertelli in 1943. Then, it was Leon Johnny Lujack and Leon Hart in 1947 and 1949 respectively. Finally, Johnny Lattner and Paul Hornung won in 1953 and 1956.
While Notre Dame hasn’t had as much Heisman success recently, the school shows it can remain a storied football program.