Many iconic football players have accomplished extraordinary feats. While fans may have different bets on the best players in the sport, certain award-giving bodies like The Heisman Trophy Trust could determine them based on an extensive poll.
Every year, a Heisman Trophy is awarded to the most diligent, perseverant, and hardworking football player in the United States. The trophy was first presented to quarterback Jay Berwanger in 1935.
With 88 recipients in history, let’s pick the ten most accomplished Heisman Trophy winners and see why they deserve the award.
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Cam Newton (2010)
Cam Newton played as a quarterback for the Carolina Panthers from 2011 to 2019, the New England Patriots in 2020, and the Carolina Panthers in 2021.
Newton went to Westlake High School and played for the high school football team. He initially attended the University of Florida and then transferred to Blinn College. He then signed with Auburn University and dominated the NCAAF Heisman odds, ultimately winning the poll in 2010.
Newton’s other notable awards were the Bert Bell Award in 2015, the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2011, the NFL Offensive Player of the Year, and the NFL Most Valuable Player in 2015.
Barry Sanders (1988)
Born in Wichita, Kansas, Barry Sanders was the seventh of the Sanders family’s 11 children. In his younger years, Sanders worked as an assistant to his father, a roofer.
He used to listen to the regional college sports game his father would watch on the television. With a strong fascination for sports, he played football at Wichita National High School as a tailback in his sophomore year.
He went to Oklahoma State on a football scholarship. In NCAA Division I, Sanders still holds the most rushing yards in a season (2,628), most rushing touchdowns in a season (37), and most rushing yards per game in a season (238.9), among 31 other records he has earned in college.
In professional football, Sanders received NFL Most Valuable Player in 1997, 2× NFL Offensive Player of the Year in 1994 and 1997, NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year in 1989, and the Maxwell Wards, Walter Camp Award, and the highly-coveted Heisman Trophy in 1988.
Tony Dorsett (1976)
Tony Dorsett received the Heisman Trophy in 1976. Born on April 7, 1954, the iconic running back became one of the most important players in the Dallas Cowboys in 1977 to 1987 and the Denver Broncos in 1988.
When he was in the Dallas Cowboys, the team won the Super Bowl XII. Dorsett was awarded the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year and the PFWA All-Rookie Team in 1977. Besides the Heisman Trophy, he received the Maxwell and Walter Camp awards in 1976. He was also given the Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor for his outstanding contribution to his former team.
Herschel Walker (1982)
Herschel Walker was professional running back who played for New Jersey Generals (1983–1985), Dallas Cowboys (1996–1997), Minnesota Vikings (1989–1991), Philadelphia Eagles (1992–1994), New York Giants (1995), and Dallas Cowboys (1996–1997). He received the Heisman Trophy in 1982.
Besides the Heisman Trophy. Walker also received the following recognitions: 2× Second-team All-Pro and the 2× Pro Bowl in 1987 and 1988. In addition, Walker earned the Maxwell Award and Walter Camp Award in 1982.
Marcus Allen (1981)
Marcus Allen played for the Los Angeles Raiders from 1982 to 1992 and the Kansas City Chiefs from 1993 to 1997. He earned his Heisman Trophy in 1981. He played football at Abraham Lincoln High School in San Diego, California in high school. He attended college at the University of Southern California (USC) and continued playing as a running back.
Other honors he has received were NFL Most Valuable Player in 1985, Super Bowl MVP XVIII, NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year in 1982, and NFL Comeback Player of the Year in 1993. He also received the Maxwell Award and the Walter Camp Award in 1981.
O.J. Simpson (1968)
Born on July 9, 1947, in San Francisco, California, Orenthal James Simpson was a professional football player who played for Buffalo Bills from 1969 to 1977 and the San Francisco 49ers from 1978 to 1979.
He was an All-City football player at Galileo Academy of Science and Technology. He was then enrolled at City College of San Francisco in 1965. He then transferred to the University of Southern California (USC) since many sought after him when the City College won the Prune Bowl against Long Beach State.
He received the Heisman Trophy along with the Maxwell Award in 1968. He received the Walter Camp Award in 1967. In addition, Simpson was the NFL Most Valuable Player and the NFL Offensive Player of the Year in 1973.
Mike Rozier (1983)
Mike Rozier was an exemplary high school football player at Woodrow Wilson High School. Nebraska Cornhuskers recruited him in college. He played professional football in Pittsburgh Maulers in 1984, Jacksonville Bulls in 1985, Houston Oilers in 1985-1990, and Atlanta Falcons in 1990-1991.
Rozier received the Heisman Trophy in 1983. The legendary running back also received the Maxwell and Walter Camp awards the same year.
Ricky Williams (1998)
Ricky Williams played for the New Orleans Saints from 1999 to 2001, the Miami Dolphins from 2002 to 2003 and 2005, Toronto Argonauts in 2006, the Miami Dolphins from 2007 to 2010, and the Baltimore Ravens in 2011. He initially played baseball, football, track and field, and wrestling in high school. Ultimately, he picked football as his main sport. He attended the University of Texas in college and earned his Heisman Trophy in 1998.
Williams also received the Walter Camp Award and Maxwell Award in 1998. In the same year, he was also named the Sporting News Player of the Year and the AP College Football Player of the Year.
Ty Detmer (1990)
Ty Detmer was a quarterback in the NFL who played for the Green Bay Packers from 1992 to 1995, Philadelphia Eagles from 1996 to 1997, San Francisco 49ers in 1998, the Cleveland Browns from 1999 to 2000, Cleveland Browns from 2001 to 2003, and Atlanta Falcons from 2004 to 2005. He played for the BYU Cougars football team in college and earned the Heisman Trophy in 1990.
Tim Tebow (2007)
Tim Tebow earned his Heisman Trophy, Davey O’Brien Award, and first Maxwell Award in 2007 while playing for the University of Florida. The same year, he was named the AP College Football Player of the Year and the Sporting News Player of the Year. In 2008, Tebow received his second Maxwell Award, a Manning Award, and a Wuerffel Trophy.
He continued to bag awards in the following years. In 2009, he was awarded the William V. Campbell Trophy and his second SEC Offensive Player of the Year; the first was earned in 2008.
Fans have their football favorites, but if you’re looking to find the best college football stars, the Heisman Trophy should be one of the qualifications. The Heisman Trophy isn’t just about earning bragging rights in the sport. It mirrors a player’s discipline, self-confidence, and unrivaled skill in the field.