The much coveted Heisman Trophy, awarded to the best player in College Football in the USA, does not always bode well in the professional environment
The trophy is awarded via voting by past winners and the media
The recipients of the trophy over the past 10 years have faded into obscurity in most cases despite the hype when they enter the pro levels of the NFL
Let’s look at how they have fared over the past 10 years
2004 – Matt Leinart – Quarterback – After a stellar 2004 season in which he won the award, Leinart’s last college game was the 2005 National Championship game, a last minute loss versus Texas, which is still deemed to be one of the best finals ever. Lenient entered the draft and was selected 10th overall by Arizona Cardinals. His career faltered with poor form and injuries leading to his release in 2010. Picked up by the Houston Texans he was a backup until given a start in 2011. He broke his collar bone in his starting game and never played again for them. After short stints in initial squads at Oakland and Buffalo he more or less retired in 2013. Seen as a risk in the NFL with an entourage that was always at his side, he could widely be regarded as a flop and he now has a career as a college football TV analyst. NFL games – 29 over 5 seasons
2005 – Reggie Bush –Running Back – the most successful winner by far. Drafted no. 2 by the New Orleans Saints, Bush won a Super Bowl in 2010. Unfortunately his Heisman was voluntarily forfeited in 2010 as well as his college records, for financial irregularities and third party payments whilst a student player at USC.
2006 – Troy Smith – Quarterback – a hands down winner out of Ohio State his initial college career was blighted by a two quarterback system during his early games. He fought to make it his own however was seen as two small for the NFL and was drafted in round 7 by the Baltimore Ravens. He started 2 games over 3 seasons, released, and was picked up by the San Francisco 49ers where he started 6 games in 2010 and subsequently released again. Now a free agent after a brief career in Canadian football.
2007 – Tim Tebow – Quarterback – out of the Florida Gators football system the mercurial quarterback was the NFLs biggest risk due to a throwing style that was not suited to the pro game. Drafted No. 22 by Denver Broncos he became the team’s starter for the last 3 games of the season whereby he led the Broncos to the AFC West division title and a playoff game, which they won against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Tebow was traded to the New York Jets the next season, where he threw 8 passes over the season as a backup. Released and picked up by the New England Patriots again his time was limited and he was again let go. Still looking for a job as a NFL pro Tebow is currently a college football analyst for ESPN and the SEC TV network.
2008 – Sam Bradford –Quarterback – a star at Oklahoma this Heisman winner was selected no. 1 overall in the NFL draft by the St Louis Rams and as a player has had the most game time of any winner over the past decade. Starting all 16 games in 2009 and winning rookie of the year in his first NFL season you would think Bradford would be seen as a potential star. Unfortunately playing for a struggling franchise and being injured for the past two seasons, the jury is still out.
2009 – Mark Ingram Jr- Running Back – a rare winner as a running back Ingram came out of the current Alabama football dynasty. Picked at no. 28 overall by the New Orleans Saints in the draft the following year, Ingram’s career has tailed off since his first two seasons, playing in only 5 games this season so far.
2010 – Cam Newton – Quarterback – a national title winner with Auburn Newton was selected no. 1 overall by the Carolina Panthers. There was some controversy around his college career and his interaction with agents however as a starter in his first season in the NFL he was outstanding. Since then his stats have declined year on year and again the jury is still out. Newton won Rookie of the year in his first season however like Sam Bradford he has never reached the same heights.
2011- Robert Griffin III – Quarterback – another unanimous winner, the Baylor quarterback put his college back on the map as a football powerhouse. 2012 was considered one of the best NFL drafts for quarterbacks and St Louis, who owned the no.2 pick, traded it valuably away to the Washington Redskins, who were looking for a franchise quarterback to bring back the glory days. RG3 led the Redskins to their first NFC East title that season since 1999, and a first playoff appearance since 2007. Injured in the playoff loss that season he has never been the same player. This year he was injured again in week 2, and his form has subsequently declined. Latest rumours are he could be traded before next season after being benched in week 13 after a poor run of form since his comeback. Current Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck was also a finalist that year. Luck was the no. 1 pick in the NFL draft that year
2012- Johnny Manziel – Quarterback – the first freshman to win the Heisman, the Texas A& M product was rebranded Johnny Football by the media. He returned to college the following year post trophy win as an “A list celebrity’ after an off season of movie premieres and Vegas weekends. He still had the goods and declared for the draft at the end of his second College season. Picked up by the Cleveland Browns as the 22nd pick Johnny is currently learning his trade as a backup. Giving the opposing bench the “bird” gesture in a preseason game is his NFL highlight so far.
2013 – Jameis Winston – Quarterback – the second freshman to win the trophy Winston is the current college football champion quarterback of the Florida State Seminoles. His draft plans are still TBD however his off field antics leads to the theme that he will follow suit of the majority of the rest of the Heisman winners over the past decade.
The Heisman Finalists
Marcus Mariota – Quarterback – Oregon – Hands down favourite and next potential NFL bust. Projected to go no.1 in draft next year
Melvin Gordon – Running Back – Wisconsin – Storming season and has already declared for the 2015 NFL Draft
Amari Cooper – Alabama- Wide Receiver – a real weapon and best NFL potential as a star. Projected top 5 draft pick
Watch the 2014 Heisman presentation live this Sunday afternoon on ESPN