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College Football: The Worst Heisman Trophy Winners of All Time

Colby LanhamCorrespondent IDecember 29, 2016

College Football: The Worst Heisman Trophy Winners of All Time

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    Chris Trotman/Getty Images

    In college football, there is only one focus for every football team: win.

    But, every year, one player is recognized as the best of everyone in the nation, and receives the biggest college football award given: the Heisman Trophy, named after legendary coach John Heisman, is a high honor in college football. 

    But while Heisman winners may have made names for themselves in college, the NFL is a different playground. The players are bigger, faster, and stronger, the offenses more complex, the defenses forever evolving.

    Plus, in the NFL, everyone's on a level playing field; there's no Division II or three teams where you can score 70 points and be done playing by halftime. There are just thirty-two teams, all looking for the main prize: the Super Bowl.

    So, what Heisman Trophy winners were not able to establish and make good names for themselves with the big boys on Sundays?    

QB Matt Leinart

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    The heir to the USC throne after the departure of Carson Palmer to the NFL, Matt Leinart established himself as one of the best quarterbacks in USC's history.

    He led the Trojans to a win in the National Championship Game in 2004, where they defeated Oklahoma 55-19. Linart won the MVP, the Manning Award, and, of course, the Heisman Trophy.

    Leinart's number, #11, went on to be retired at USC.

    Entering the 2006 NFL Draft, he was thought to have size but lack arm strength. He was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals as Kurt Warner's successor. He guided the Cardinals to a 4-7 record in his rookie year, and never fully maintained the starting job ever again

    He was released on September 4, 2010 in favor of veteran Derek Anderson and rookies Max Hall and John Skelton.

    He is currently a back up quarterback for the Houston Texans behind starter Matt Schaub, and will likely never have a starting opportunity elsewhere.

    As an NFL starter, he holds a dismal record of 7-10. 

QB Troy Smith

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    Larry French/Getty Images

    Coming out of Ohio State, Troy Smith was your typical dual threat: a quarterback who could beat you with his legs as well as his arm.

    During his Heisman Trophy campaign in 2006, Smith passed for 2,542 yards, 30 touchdowns with only six interceptions, and added another 228 yards and a touchdown on the ground.

    He ended his statistical career at Ohio State on a high note, amassing 5,720 yards passing, 54 touchdowns along with 13 interceptions, and boasted a passer rating of 159.72. He also accumulated 1,197 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns on the ground.

    He ended his playing career at Ohio State on a sour note, however, losing 41-14, a game where Smith completed only 4 of 14 passes for 35 yards, along with an interception and a fumble. He would then leave for the bright lights of the NFL.

    How bright did those lights get? Smith fell all the way to the fifth round to the Baltimore Ravens due to height concerns, standing only at 6'0. In limited playing time, he never fully won the quarterback job, and even after the late Steve McNair retired, the Ravens opted to go with first round selection Joe Flacco out of Delaware.

    Smith backed him up for two years before being released and picked up by the San Francisco 49ers, where they would end up with a 6-10 record, and while Smith had a 3-1 record as the starter.

RB Ron Dayne

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    As a running back out of Wisconsin, Ron Dayne had many names: "The Dayne Effect," "The Dayne Train," and "The Great Dayne." Dayne was a workhorse kind of back, totaling over 1,000 carries at Wisconsin.

    During his Heisman year in 1999, Dayne rushed for 1,834 yards, and received many college accolades and awards. He still holds the NCAA record for career rushing yards. His number 33 jersey was also retired, and his name is displayed on Camp Randall Stadium.

    He went in the first round of the 2000 Draft with the eleventh pick by the New York Giants. He started well, splitting carries with former Giant running back Tiki Barber, but slid in the next few seasons, as Dayne could not control his weight.

    He remained on the sidelines, and wasn't re-signed when the season ended. Dayne had stints with the Denver Broncos and the Houston Texans, but never emerged as a true premier back in the NFL, and became a free agent in 2007. While he is still listed as a free agent, Dayne has not played in the NFL since the 2007 season.

     

QB Andre Ware

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Out of Houston, Andre Ware was the first African American quarterback to win the Heisman Trophy in 1989.

    During his Heisman year, he threw for 4,699 yards, 44 touchdowns, and even set 26 NCAA records, thanks in large part to his ability to use the Run and Shoot offense to its full potential.

    He was indeed drafted by the Detroit Lions with the seventh overall pick, and got a tremendous opportunity to work with Hall of Fame running back Barry Sanders.

    But Ware was played sporadically, as the team went with injury-riddled Rodney Peete or Erik Kramer. Ware only played when the team was officially  out of the playoffs or losing by a wide margin. Released in 1994, he was signed by the Jacksonville Jaguars, but was cut before the regular season even began.

    Ware played on five different CFL teams in five years, and never got another opportunity in the NFL.

QB Chris Weinke

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    Florida State has a history for constantly putting out tremendous talent. As a quarterback at of FSU, expectations were high for Chris Weinke.

    Weinke entered Florida State University at the age of 25 after playing minor league baseball. During his sophomore year, he led the Seminoles to a top five ranking, finishing at number two with a final record of 9-1. He exceeded expectations in his junior year in 1999, when he won FSU a national championship, defeating Michael Vick and the Hokies 46-29.

    In 2000, during his Heisman campaign, he led FSU to their third national championship game against Oklahoma, were they fell 13-2. However, Weinke lead the nation in passing with 4,167 yards, and earned not only the Heisman Trophy, but the Johnny Unitas Award and the Davey O'Brien Award.

    Weinke dropoed all the way until the fourth round of the NFL Draft, and was selected by the Carolina Panthers. In his rookie season, he had a 1-15 record as the starter. For the rest of his days in Carolina, along with a short stint in San Francisco, Weinke was never a solid, NFL quarterback. 

    He played back up for his entire NFL career, and even then he was not the best.

QB Jason White

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    A. Messerschmidt/Getty Images

    Jason White came out of Oklahoma with a great resume.

    Bounce back in 2003 from several knee injuries, White managed to win the Heisman Trophy by tossing 40 touchdowns with eight interceptions. He received several other awards, including the Davey O'Brien Award and the Jim Thorpe Courage Award, and was a consensus All-American.

    He was also awarded a medical scholarship to play for another season, and led Oklahoma back to the Big 12 Championship  Game, where they fell to Kansas State.

    White finished his career at Oklahoma as the school's all-time leader in passing yards (8,012) and touchdown passes (81).

    But, White's medical concerns and few years of productivity didn't quite set him up for the NFL. He failed to get selected in the 2005 NFL Draft, and while he received a tryout for the Kansas City Chiefs, they did not sign him. He eventually received an offer from the Tennessee Titans and was signed as a rookie free agent, but he retired from football due to his bad knees.

    While injuries are a part of the game, White makes this list in large part because he never really tried to establish himself as a quarterback, and had no success on the market for any NFL teams.

    Bad knees are, and were, what put him on this list of Heisman winners, especially with his name never really reaching out beyond Oklahoma's stadium.

QB Gino Torretta

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    Gene Sweeney/Getty Images

    "The U."

    Expectations are always high for Miami(FL) players.

    When you spit out big time players like Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, teams are sure to be taking notice.

    Gino Torretta had plenty of eyes on him when he was the starting quarterback for Miami(FL).

    Torretta was a big name in the late 1980s and early 1990s, as he played on the team during their National Championship seasons in 1989 and 1991.

    In his first season as a starter in 1991, Torretta gained plenty of national attention by playing a stellar performance against the Houston Cougars, and led Miami down the road to a comeback win against Florida State, and a co-national championship. During the 1991 season, he threw for 3,095 yards, 20 touchdowns and eight interceptions.

    The NFL brought him back down to earth. Torretta fell all the way to the seventh round before being picked up by the Minnesota Vikings, and was effectively a bench-warmer all season. He eventually served stints with the San Francisco 49ers, the Seattle Seahawks, the Indianapolis Colts, and the Detroit Lions, but all served as back up roles.

    Torretta never got his chance in the NFL, and didn't live up to his expectations coming out of "The U."

RB Rashaan Salaam

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    Courtesy of tedwatts.org

    Coming out of Colorado, Rashaan Salaam had one of the best seasons ever by a collegiate running back, rushing for a school record 2,055 yards and 24 touchdowns, a big factor in Colorado's 11-1 season, including their Fiesta Bowl win over Notre dame, and a top five finish in the final AP Polls.

    He was a unanimous All-American and earned the school's first Heisman Trophy. As a young, fresh running back, Salaam declared early for the NFL Draft.

    Salaam did not live up to the expectations that were attached to him out of college. Being taken by the Bears as a rookie, he rushed for over 1,000 yards and around eight touchdowns.

    However, injury issues and fumble concerns led to a premature end with the Bears after three years.

    He had short stints with the Cleveland Browns and the Green Bay Packers, but failed to make an impact.

    After some time in the XFL with the Memphis Maniax, he attempted to make another career for himself in the NFL, but was unsuccessful in his ventures with the San Francisco 49ers. He would then go to the Toronto Argonauts, and was effectively suspended, which ended his football career.

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