History of Heisman Trophy winners: From Cam Newton to Johnny Manziel to Lamar Jackson
The winner of the 2019 Heisman Trophy award is set to be announced in New York on Saturday night, with four players up for the prize
By Cameron Hogwood
Last Updated: 14/12/19 4:15pm
The Heisman Trophy beckons as the most prestigious accolade for college football's outstanding talents - but history shows it hasn't always showered its recipients with success.
A burden or a blessing? While the award has sprinkled added cachet onto the résumés of established NFL stars, its value has also been tarnished by the regressive careers that have partly-fuelled the Heisman's 'curse' reputation.
That shouldn't however discount the achievements of winners scattered throughout history whose name and contributions will be honoured by generations to come.
Running back Barry Sanders became a 10-time Pro Bowler with the Detroit Lions after taking home the prize while playing at Oklahoma State in 1988. Fellow back Marcus Allen was a Super Bowl champion, a Super Bowl MVP and a six-time Pro Bowler after receiving the award in 1981. The 1976 Heisman victor Tony Dorsett also lifted the Vince Lombardi Trophy and went to the Pro Bowl four times following an exceptional college career with Pittsburgh.
They mark three of just six Heisman winners to have been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the most recent of whom was Sanders.
With the winner of the 2019 award set to be announced this weekend, we've taken a look at how the past 10 recipients have fared...
Last 10 Heisman Trophy winners
|2018||Kyler Murray||Texas A&M (2015) / Oklahoma (2016-2018)||Arizona Cardinals|
|2017||Baker Mayfield||Texas Tech (2013) / Oklahoma (2014-2017)||Cleveland Browns|
|2016||Lamar Jackson||Louisville (2016-2017)||Baltimore Ravens|
|2015||Derrick Henry||Alabama (2013-2015)||Tennessee Titans|
|2014||Marcus Mariota||Oregon (2012-2014)||Tennessee Titans|
|2013||Jameis Winston||Florida State (2012-2014) *redshirted in 2012||Tampa Bay Buccaneers|
|2012||Johnny Manziel||Texas A&M (2011-2013) *redshirted in 2011||Free agent|
|2011||Robert Griffin III||Baylor (2008-2011)||Baltimore Ravens|
|2010||Cam Newton||Florida (2007-2008) / Blinn (2009) / Auburn (2010)||Carolina Panthers|
|2009||Mark Ingram Jr.||Alabama (2008-2010)||Baltimore Ravens|
The success stories?
The fear of doing him a major disservice outweighs the fear of him declining beyond 2019 when it comes to considering Jackson a success.
It's for the barrage of doubts he was greeted by upon his introduction to the NFL and the manner in which he has since diminished them that the Baltimore Ravens' supremely-gifted quarterback deserves to come out positively in the Heisman debate.
Some dubbed him a running back, one team asked him to do receiver drills and it took until the No 32 overall pick for him to be taken off the board at the 2018 NFL Draft. Having used his rookie year to settle in, Jackson has since turned Baltimore into Super Bowl contenders.
He currently leads the NFL with 33 passing touchdowns, he is the second quarterback in history to rush for 1000 yards in a season, he is the youngest player ever to throw for five touchdowns in multiple games, he is the first player to have thrown four touchdown passes and rushed for at least 50 yards in back-to-back games.
Thursday night's win over the New York Jets also saw Jackson break Michael Vick's record of most single-season rushing yards by a quarterback. The list goes on.
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Mark Ingram Jr.
Jackson's Ravens teammate Ingram may not have a Super Bowl title to his name but he has grown to be one of the league's most capable running backs over the past nine seasons.
Having struggled with injuries in the past, the two-time Pro Bowler showed his worth in 2016 with his first 1000-yard rushing season, which he managed again the next year along with a career-high 12 rushing touchdowns.
His 2018 with the New Orleans Saints was tainted by a four-game suspension at the start of the year, however he has responded this season by asserting himself as a key contributor and valuable locker room presence for this special Ravens outfit.
Go all the way this year and he'll have certainly earned his 'success' label.
An uncontainable dual-threat in his prime, Newton was phenomenal as his MVP form led the Carolina Panthers to the Super Bowl in 2015, where they were eventually beaten by the Denver Broncos.
The 30-year-old won NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2011 and has been to three Pro Bowls. He has recorded the most rushing touchdowns by a quarterback in history with 58, he was the first player ever to register 50 passing touchdowns and 25 rushing touchdowns in his first three seasons, and he has the most combined yards for a player in his first five seasons with 21,560. Frankly, an entire chapter could be devoted to Newton's NFL records.
Henry has progressed consistently since being drafted in 2016, to the point where he finds himself amid a career year and an integral part of a dangerous Tennessee Titans side.
In his last four games the 25-year-old has 599 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground from 86 carries, rushing for at least 100 yards and one score on four consecutive occasions to tie Hall of Famer Earl Campbell for a franchise record.
He enters Week 15 ranked second in rushing yards with 1,243 as well as having a tied-first 13 touchdowns.
The not so successful...
'Johnny Football' saw his time in the NFL end before it ever really began, with the former Texas A&M quarterback managing just two starts in his rookie season followed by six in 2015. That would mark his final year with the organisation as Manziel was released in March 2016 on the back of several off-the-field controversies.
He didn't play for two years after that before spending time with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and the Montreal Alouettes in the Canadian Football League, followed by a stint with Memphis Express during the single season of the Alliance of American Football (AAF) in 2019.
Robert Griffin III
The Ravens have boasted a three-headed Heisman prong at stages this season, with Griffin occasionally lining up in the backfield alongside Jackson and Ingram. His career wasn't always supposed to be that of an understudy, though.
Griffin was drafted by the Washington Redskins No 2 overall in 2012 before winning Offensive Rookie of the Year and leading the team to the NFC East title and the playoffs, where they were beaten by the Seattle Seahawks.
Griffin's rookie year statistics
|Games played||Pass cmp/att||Passing yards||Passing TDs||Carries||Rushing yards||Rushing TDs||Int||Sck|
Injuries then plagued the remainder of a short-lived career in Washington, until he was released in March 2016. He then signed with the Browns only to manage just five starts having been placed on injured reserve in September.
The 29-year-old signed a one-year deal with the Ravens earlier this year as a backup to Jackson, who has evolved into the explosive dual-threat quarterback Griffin was once tipped to become.
Mariota was another who looked the real deal after being taken No 2 by the Titans in 2015 having come out second-best in a tug-of-war with Jameis Winston for the title of first overall pick.
The 26-year-old entered the league with high expectations after throwing for 4,454 yards, 42 touchdowns and four interceptions in his Heisman year, as well as rushing for 770 yards and 15 touchdowns. Not only were the Titans getting an accurate passer, but also a threat on the ground. Or so they thought.
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While Mariota put up steady figures in his first few seasons in the NFL, he struggled to develop into the talisman capable of leading a Super Bowl charge. His struggles were underlined earlier this season when he was benched for Ryan Tannehill, who has since catapulted Tennessee into playoff contention in one of 2019's unlikely comeback stories.
The Jameis Winston enigma
Winston warrants a category of his own on the basis of only Winston himself knowing what direction his career is heading in next. The first overall pick from 2015 has grown to be something of a mystery, taking Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans on a winding path with its familiar hiccups and frustrations, but one it seems many have found a way to get used to.
He'll turn the ball over for the rest of his career, but he'll also come up with the eye-catching play that explains why he has managed to retain the faith of teammates and head coaches thus far.
Winston is second in the NFL in passing yards this season with 4,115 for a respectable 20 touchdowns, but he also leads the league with 23 interceptions. That just about typifies the 25-year-old. For now it seems like he has the trust of Bruce Arians, making it difficult to arrive at any conclusion over his success just yet.
Still to prove themselves
The Browns signal-caller has experienced a mixed start to his NFL career after winning the Heisman Trophy and then being picked No 1 overall in 2018.
Mayfield hasn't been alone in struggling to live up to the high expectations set for what is perhaps the most talented Browns roster in a decade. The playoffs look a long shot and there has been a notable lack of on-field cohesion between their quarterback and the likes of Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry. For the weapons at his disposal, Mayfield hasn't quite been able to discover the necessary rhythm, but that's not to say it will never come.
Mayfield's career NFL stats ahead of Week 15 in 2019
|Season||Games played||Pass cmp/att||Passing yards||Passing TDs||Carries||Rushing yards||Rushing TDs||Int||Sck|
He is second behind Winston with 16 interceptions in 2019 and has a quarterback rating of just 51.3 heading into Week 15. To write him off now, though, would be unfair to a Heisman winner that has displayed flashes of being able to succeed in the NFL.
It's far too early to pass judgement on whether Murray has been and will go on to be a success with the Arizona Cardinals.
The Oklahoma product has learned quickly in his rookie year that it's far easier to run away from college defenses than it is to evade an NFL defensive front. That's something that will come with time as he settles in and the Cardinals cushion him with more capable personnel.
Murray has thrown 272 passes for 2,866 yards and 14 touchdowns as well as just six picks so far in 2019, while also rushing for 446 yards and four scores from 71 carries. The next two years will serve up a fairer and more detailed indication of whether or not he will go on to be considered a success.