Ohio State Football: Ranking the Buckeyes' Heisman Trophy Winners

Tyler Waddell@Tyler_WaddellCorrespondent IIFebruary 5, 2012

Ohio State Football: Ranking the Buckeyes' Heisman Trophy Winners

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    Since the Heisman Trophy was handed out for the first time in 1935, seven players from the Ohio State University football program have taken home the prestigious award.

    This makes it tied with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish for most all time.

    From the Buckeyes' first winner during World War II, Les Horvath, to the latest with Troy Smith, each and every member of this outstanding list hold their own legacy and contributes to the phenomenal tradition at OSU.

    Although these players' accomplishments on and off the gridiron cannot be distinguished by a number alone, we're going to try anyways. Here is a power ranking of the Bucks' seven Heisman Trophy winners.

7. Les Harvath, QB/RB

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    Born in South Bend, Indiana, but raised in Cleveland, Ohio, Les Horvath was in a Buckeyes uniform from 1940, '41, '42 and '44, taking home the Heisman Trophy in his fourth year of eligibility (thanks to WWII) after returning to the team from graduate school.

    In his award-winning season, the multi-talented athlete went 14-of-31 (45.2 percent) for 345 yards and four touchdowns under center and rushed for 905 yards off 163 carries (5.6 yards per carry) when lining up in the backfield.

    Horvath received 18.31 percent of the possible voting points (412 overall) and Ohio State finished 9-0 and No. 2 in the final AP Poll.

6. Vic Janowicz, QB/RB/P

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    A halfback in the single wing offense and a punter on special teams, Vic Janowicz was a special player. He was even used as quarterback in some formations, where he flourished as well.

    "He was not only a great runner, but also passed, was a placekicker and punter, played safety on defense and was an outstanding blocker. Janowicz epitomized the 'triple-threat' football player," said legendary coach Woody Hayes, according to WittySparks.com.

    Janowicz took home the Heisman as a junior, where he completed 32-of-77 (41.6 percent) passes for 561 yards and 11 touchdowns, carried the ball 114 times for 314 yards (2.8 yards per carry) and booted 120 punts.

    After college, he pursued a major league baseball career with the Pittsburgh Pirates. After hitting just .214 over two seasons as a bench player, he returned to football late in the 1954 season with the Washington Redskins, and was their starting halfback in 1955. However, the following season he suffered a serious brain injury in an automobile accident that left him partially paralyzed and ended his athletic career.

    Janowicz eventually made a full recovery from the horrible incident and ended up becoming a broadcaster for Buckeye football games.

5. Troy Smith, QB

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    Troy Smith is the most recent player to come away with the Heisman Trophy from Ohio State.

    In 2006, the senior quarterback led his team to a 12-0 record and an appearance in the BCS National Championship. Despite a loss, Smith finished the year with a 167.87 passer rating, completing 203-of-311 (65.3 percent) attempts for 2,542 yards and 30 touchdowns to just six interceptions.

    The historic college QB beat out Darren McFadden and Brady Quinn for the Heisman that season. Smith took 86.7 percent of the first place votes, a record that has not been broken. His tally of 2,540 votes was the third-largest behind that of the then-2005 Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush (2,541 votes) and 1968 Heisman winner O.J. Simpson (2,853 votes).

    Smith's margin of victory (1,662 votes) was also the second-largest in the history of the award, eclipsed only by O.J. Simpson, who won by 1,750 votes.

4. Howard "Hopalong" Cassady, RB/DB

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    With a national championship and Heisman Trophy, Howard Cassady is arguably the greatest pre-1960 college football player in history.

    Cassady scored 37 touchdowns in 36 games in his time wearing scarlet and gray at the running back, defensive back and return specialist positions. A pass was never completed on him in his four years at the university. He was twice selected as a consensus All-American, in 1954 and 1955, and was also a baseball star.

    After being selected as the No. 3 overall pick in the 1956 NFL Draft, Cassady played seven seasons for the Detroit Lions, and one each for the Cleveland Browns and the Philadelphia Eagles. He served as an all-purpose back in the NFL, playing both wide receiver and running back. In doing so, he scored 27 total touchdowns.

3. Eddie George, RB

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    Eddie George was a Philadelphia native but is a Columbus legend.

    As a senior in the 1995 season, George rushed for a school record 1,927 yards (152.2 yards per game) and 24 touchdowns, while showing versatility in the passing game by catching 44 passes for 399 yards.

    His best performances of the year were in a 45-26 win over Notre Dame, where he rushed for 207 yards—his third 200-yard game of the season—and a school-record 314 yards (and three TDs) in a 41-3 blowout versus Illinois.

    George ranks second in school history with 3,768 career rushing yards and third in rushing touchdowns (44). Overall, he finished with 4,284 all-purpose yards, 45 touchdowns, and a 5.5 yards per carry average.

    He then went on to play nine seasons in the NFL, winning Rookie of the Year honors and was the starting running back for the Tennessee Titans in Super Bowl XXXIV, where he rushed for 95 yards and scored twice.

    On May 19, 2011, it was announced that George would be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.

2 and 1. Archie Griffin, RB

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    There wouldn't be a list of top college football players without the name "Archie Griffin" included.

    Griffin is the only two-time Heisman Trophy winner in history and is the most recognizable face among all Ohio State players to date.

    He carried the ball 518 times for 3,145 yards (6.1 yards per carry) and 16 touchdowns in his two award-winning seasons and the Buckeyes had a record of 40-5-1 in games he started.

    "He's a better young man than he is a football player, and he's the best football player I've ever seen," said coach Woody Hayes of Griffin, according to ESPN.

    It's always been a controversial topic with whether or not Griffin deserved his second Heisman Trophy, due to his decline of production in 1975. However, it's crystal clear that the Hall of Famer is one of the greatest college football players in the history of the game.