About this time last year, I wrote a column about how the Heisman Trophy has seemingly become a one-horse race with quarterbacks generally taking home college football’s most prestigious individual award.
Last Tuesday, Alabama wide receiver DeVonta Smith broke a string of four consecutive quarterbacks taking home the Heisman Trophy.
Smith was the first non-quarterback Hesiman winner since former Alabama running back Derrick Henry won the award in 2015.
Prior to Henry’s win, it was a six-year string of quarterbacks taking home the trophy after another former Alabama running back Mark Ingram won the trophy in 2009.
Then, once again, it was a three-year string after former USC running back Reggie Bush won in 2005. Bush’s trophy was then vacated.
Since 2000, only Bush, Ingram, Henry and now Smith were the only non quarterbacks to win the trophy.
Non quarterback Heisman Trophy winners have somewhat become anomalies since the turn of the century.
Even more so for wide receivers as there was a gap from 1991 when Michigan’s Desmond Howard took home the trophy to Smith’s win.
Then, to push it further, defensive wins are entirely rare with Michigan’s Charles Woodson taking home the trophy for his efforts as a cornerback.
The last defensive player to come close to becoming the second defensive player in Heisman history to be named the Heisman Trophy winner was Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o, but he fell behind Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, who won it as a redshirt freshman.
Ohio State’s Chase Young, the NFL’s No. 2 2020 draft pick behind 2019 Heisman winner quarterback Joe Borrow, fell behind Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts and Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields in the 2019 Heisman race.
There’s no doubt Burrow should have won and both Hurts and Fields put up their case for the award, but Young’s monster numbers should have been higher on the list.
I do think his two-game absence hurt him for him to come in fourth, and I still don’t see how he would have beat Burrow out.
I’m not going to claim the voters get it wrong a lot, but the Heisman has become a quarterback race.
It seems like those anomaly players have to have a season unlike any other to take home the Heisman.
Smith broke SEC records, while pulling in 1,641 yards and four touchdowns on 105 receptions, while also running for another.
Had Smith not broken those SEC records, I’d probably be writing about how Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence took home the trophy – also a quarterback.
In many interviews with local athletes, all of them say it’s a team game and individual awards don’t matter.
I get that the Heisman is an individual award and likely many players strive to win that trophy, but I can’t really call it the best player in college football trophy when the guys in the trenches never get picked, nor a defensive player getting the trophy for their efforts.
The Heisman has become an offensive skill position trophy that I’d really like to see others win it.
But, not only has the Heisman been just an offensive skill position trophy, it is always a player from a prestigious school.
ALabama’s Najee Harris was fifth in this year’s Heisman voting and deservedly so.
He ran for 1,387 yards and 24 touchdowns on 229 carries, but Iowa State’s Breece Hall wasn’t in the top five.
Hall ran for 1,572 yards and 21 touchdowns on 279 carries.
Now, Harris got his yards and touchdowns on 50 fewer carries, but that shouldn’t take away from what Hall was able to do as a sophomore.
Then, BYU’s Zach Wilson threw for the third highest passing total this year behind Florida’s Kyle Trask and Alabama’s Mac Jones at 3,692.
He also had a 33 to 3 touchdown to interception ratio, and he also threw the ball fewer times than both Trask and Jones.
The reality is, the Heisman has become what the College Football Playoff has become, an honor for few players from the most prestigious schools.
If you don’t play for a Power 5 school, forget it.