The Heisman Memorial Trophy (usually known colloquially as the Heisman Trophy or The Heisman), is awarded annually to the most outstanding player in college football in the United States whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity. Winners epitomize great ability combined with diligence, perseverance, and hard work. It is presented by the Heisman Trophy Trust in early December before the postseason bowl games.
The award was created by the Downtown Athletic Club in 1935 to recognize “the most valuable college football player east of the Mississippi.” After the death in October 1936 of the Club’s athletic director, John Heisman, the award was named in his honor and broadened to include players west of the Mississippi. Heisman had been active in college athletics as a football player; a head football, basketball, and baseball coach; and an athletic director. It is the oldest of several overall awards in college football, including the Maxwell Award, Walter Camp Award, and the AP Player of the Year. The Heisman and the AP Player of the Year honor the most outstanding player, while the Maxwell and the Walter Camp award recognizes the best player, and the Archie Griffin Award recognizes the most valuable player. The most recent winner of the Heisman Trophy is University of Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson.
Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson is the first Heisman Trophy winner in his school’s history, beating out Clemson’s Deshaun Watson for this year’s award. Jackson was announced as 2016’s Heisman winner at a New York ceremony on Saturday night, with Watson not far behind among a list of five finalists.
Last year, only three players were invited to New York City for the trophy presentation, but a closer voting margin meant five were invited for the 2016 unveiling. While Jackson was a heavy favorite for the award and dominated the voting, Watson did well, coming within a couple hundred total points of winning. Still, Jackson got the sixth-highest rate of possible voting points in the last 50 years, according to ESPN: 79.5 percent.
In order, the vote was: Jackson, Watson, Mayfield, Westbrook, Peppers.
Jackson won after tallying 51 total touchdowns for the nation’s top scoring offense. Louisville averaged 45.3 points per game, with Jackson recording 31 passing touchdowns and another 20 rushing touchdowns.
The sophomore quarterback became the first player in FBS history to post 3,300 passing yards and 1,500 rushing yards in a single season. He was a juggernaut, completing an odyssey from three-star South Florida recruit to bona-fide superstar. He’s still a sophomore, and he’ll enter next season as a favorite to win this award again.
A few things here jump out. The first, of course, is that nobody except Watson ever had a serious chance of upsetting Jackson. They were the consensus choices, in that order, all over the country.
There are some unsurprising regional discrepancies down the ballot. Florida State running back Dalvin Cook got some votes in the South, as did Texas’ D’Onta Foreman in the Southwest. Peppers, who has high school experience in New Jersey, did well in the Mid-Atlantic and the Midwest, where Michigan is.
The Heisman Trust sends at least three vote-getters to New York as finalists each year, and it can send more if things are tight. This year, Mayfield could’ve easily been the third and last finalist, but Westbrook and Peppers snuck inside the cutline. After that, Washington’s Jake Browning could’ve come, and then there was another steep drop.
Alabama defensive end Jonathan Allen got 17 first-place votes – more than Peppers, the only defensive player to get to New York. Seven voters thought Cook or San Diego State’s Donnel Pumphrey should have gotten first place, which, fine! You’re not going to poll hundreds of media members and former Heisman winners and not get some seriously outside-the-box thinking. This year isn’t an exception.