Heisman Trophy History & List of Past Winners

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Few trophies in sports have a more storied history than the Heisman, which will be awarded Saturday night for the 80th time.

Here’s what you need to know about the trophy’s history and the men who have previously won it:


How Old Is the Heisman Trophy?

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Originally called the Downtown Athletic Club Trophy, the final model was displayed on November 16, 1935.

The trophy, made by Frank Eliscu, was shown to Notre Dame head coach Elmer Layden and the Fighting Irish team at a dinner following a game against Army.

The Trophy was first awarded to Jay Berwanger, who was a senior halfback for the Chicago Maroons. This was the only season it was called the DAC Trophy.


Who Is the Trophy Named After?

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The Heisman Trophy is named after legendary player and coach John W. Heisman. He was also the DAC’s athletic director.

Heisman died in 1936, and the Trophy was then named in his honor.


Who Controls the Heisman Trust?

The Trophy’s website states that the Trust’s mission statement is as follows:

The Heisman Memorial Trophy annually recognizes the outstanding college football player whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity. Winners epitomize great ability combined with diligence, perseverance, and hard work. The Heisman Trophy Trust ensures the continuation and integrity of this award. The Trust, furthermore, has a charitable mission to support amateur athletics and to provide greater opportunities to the youth of our country. Our goal through these charitable endeavors is for the Heisman Trophy to symbolize the fostering of a sense of community responsibility and service to our youth, especially those disadvantaged or afflicted. All assets of the Trust beyond the expense of maintaining the annual presentation of the Heisman Memorial Trophy are reserved for such charitable causes. The Trustees, who all serve pro bono, are guided by a devotion to college football and are committed to community service and the valued tradition which the Trophy represents.

The Trust is made up of nine trustees.


How Long Has the Ceremony Been in New York?

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The ceremony has always been held in New York City. From 1935 through 1972, it was held at the Downtown Athletic Club.

In 1973, the event attracted too many people for the Club to accommodate and the ceremony was moved to the Grand Ballroom of the New York Hilton, where it was held until 1985.

Since then, it has been held in the Best Buy Theater, formerly known as the Nikon Theater, in New York.


How Long Has it Been on Primetime TV?

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The Heisman Ceremony was first broadcasted on TV in in 1977 when the DAC president and the Heisman Committee decided it deserved a wider audience. The ceremony then became an hour-long, broadcasted event.


List of Past Heisman Winners

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USC quarterback Matt Leinart won the award in 2004. (Getty)

1935 – Jay Berwanger, running back, Chicago
1936 – Larry Kelley, end, Yale
1937 – Clinton Frank, quarterback, Yale
1938 – Davey O’Brien, quarterback, TCU
1939 – Nile Kinnick, running back, Iowa
1940 – Tom Harmon, running back, Michigan
1941 – Bruce Smith, running back, Minnesota
1942 – Frank Sinkwich, running back, Georgia
1943 – Angelo Bertelli, quarterback, Notre Dame
1944 – Les Horvath, halfback, Ohio State
1945 – Felix “Doc” Blanchard, fullback, Army
1946 – Glenn Davis, running back, Army
1947 – John Lujack, quarterback, Notre Dame
1948 – Doak Walker, running back, Southern Methodist
1949 – Leon Hart, end, Notre Dame
1950 – Vic Janowicz, running back, Ohio State
1951 – Dick Kazmaier, running back, Princeton
1952 – Billy Vessels, running back, Oklahoma
1953 – John Lattner, running back, Notre Dame
1954 – Alan Amechem running back, Wisconsin
1955 – Howard Cassady, running back, Ohio State
1956 – Paul Hornung, quarterback, Notre Dame
1957 – John Davis Crow, running back, Texas A&M
1958 – Pete Dawkins, running back, Army
1959 – Billy Cannon, running back, Louisiana State
1960 – Joe Bellino, running back, Navy
1961 – Ernie Davis, running back, Syracuse
1962 – Terry Baker, quarterback, Oregon State
1963 – Roger Stauback, quarterback, Navy
1964 – John Huarte, quarterback, Notre Dame
1965 – Mike Garrett, running back, USC
1966 – Steve Spurrier, quarterback, Florida
1967 – Gary Beban, quarterback, UCLA
1968 – O.J. Simpson, running back, USC
1969 – Steve Owens, fullback, Oklahoma
1970 – Jim Plunkett, quarterback, Stanford
1971 – Pat Sullivan, quarterback, Auburn
1972 – Johnny Rodgers, running back, Nebraska
1973 – John Cappelletti, running back, Penn State
1974 – Archie Griffin, running back, Ohio State
1975 – Archie Griffin, running back, Ohio State
1976 – Tony Dorsett, running back, Pittsburgh
1977 – Earl Campbell, running back, Texas
1978 – Billy Sims, running back, Oklahoma
1979 – Charles White, running back, USC
1980 – George Rogers, running back, South Carolina
1981 – Marcus Allen, running back, USC
1982 – Herschel Walker, running back, Georgia
1983 – Mike Rozier, running back, Nebraska
1984 – Doug Flutie, quarterback, Boston College
1985 – Bo Jackson, running back, Auburn
1986 – Vinny Testaverde, quarterback, Miami (Fla.)
1987 – Tim Brown, wide receiver, Notre Dame
1988 – Barry Sanders, running back, Oklahoma State
1989 – Andre Ware, quarterback, Houston
1990 – Ty Detmer, quarterback, Brigham Young
1991 – Desmond Howard, wide receiver, Michigan
1992 – Gino Torretta, quarterback, Miami (Fla.)
1993 – Charlie Ward, quarterback, Florida State
1994 – Rashaan Salaam, running back, Colorado
1995 – Eddie George, running back, Ohio State
1996 – Danny Wuerffel, quarterback, Florida
1997 – Charles Woodson, cornerback, Michigan
1998 – Ricky Williams, running back, Texas
1999 – Ron Dayne, running back, Wisconsin
2000 – Chris Weinke, quarterback, Florida State
2001 – Eric Crouch, quarterback, Nebraska
2002 – Carson Palmer, quarterback, USC
2003 – Jason White, quarterback, Oklahoma
2004 – Matt Leinart, quarterback, USC
2005 – Reggie Bush, running back, USC
2006 – Troy Smith, quarterback, Ohio State
2007 – Tim Tebow, quarterback, Florida
2008 – Sam Bradford, quarterback, Oklahoma
2009 – Mark Ingram, running back, Alabama
2010 – Cam Newton, quarterback, Auburn
2011 – Robert Griffin III, quarterback, Baylor University
2012 – Johnny Manziel, quarterback, Texas A&M
2013. Jameis Winston, quarterback, Florida State