Heisman Trophy: 5 Heisman Winners Who Flourished in the NFL
Last night, Robert Griffin III was selected as the 77th Heisman Trophy winner.
He will soon have to decide if the desire to come back and try to become the second player in Heisman history, or to realize his dream of being an NFL player.
Most mock drafts have Griffin III being a Top 15 pick if he decides to declare for the draft. However, that does not guarantee that he will have success.
In fact, very few Heisman winners have went on to have NFL success in recent years.
There are, however, the exception to the recent failures. In this article I will list five players who had successful careers after winning the Heisman. This list does not contain every player that was able to make the transition from Heisman winner to NFL star.
Barry Sanders- Oklahoma State
Barry Sanders spent his first two seasons at Oklahoma State as a backup to Thurman Thomas’ and a special teams specialist. However, after the departure of Thomas prior to his junior season, Sander finally got his shot as the man.
The results were historical, and his lone season as the starter is remembered as the best in college football history. Sanders dominated the competition with 3,249 all-purpose yards and 44 touchdowns.
While his college football career was a one-year hit as a starter, his NFL career lasted 10 seasons and he was selected as an All-Pro all 10 seasons.
He rushed for over 1,000 yards in each of his 10 seasons and finished his career with 18,190 offensive yards and 109 total touchdowns.
Roger Staubach- Navy
For younger college football fans, 1963 Heisman Trophy winner Roger Staubach had very modest stats. However, it was a different era of college football.
Staubach completed 107 of 161 passes for 1,474 yards and seven touchdowns the year he won the Heisman.
Staubach did not go directly to the NFL after his four years with Navy. Instead, he spent four years in military service, including a tour in Vietnam.
He did not play his first down in the NFL until he was 27 years old. Staubach could make up for lost time by leading the Cowboys to four Super Bowls and two titles.
During his career, Staubach was a six-time Pro Bowl selection and led the NFL in passer rating four times. When he retired, he had compiled 22,700 passing yards and 174 touchdowns.
OJ Simpson- USC Trojans
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Before he was OJ Simpson, the actor or OJ Simpson, the accused murderer, he was OJ Simpson the football player, and he was very good.
Simpson had a great college career that was capped off by winning the 1968 Heisman Trophy when he rushed for 1,709 yards and 22 touchdowns. Simpson also had a successful NFL career that was cut short by injuries. However, at his retirement he had gained 11,236 rushing yards, which was second all-time at that juncture.
His best season was in in 1973, when he set the all-time, single-season rushing record with 2,003 yards.
Tony Dorsett- Pittsburgh
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Tony Dorsett will go down as one of the greatest college football players of all time.
In 1976, Dorsett led the University of Pittsburgh to a national championship and won the Heisman trophy while rushing for 1,948 yards.
He would finish his college career as the all-time leading rusher in college football history.
He didn’t lose any steam in the NFL, where he was selected as Rookie of the Year after he ran for 1,007 yards and 12 touchdowns.
He would reach the 1,000-yard mark in all but one of his first nine seasons. He retired with 16,326 yards and 91 touchdowns in his 12 seasons.
Marcus Allen- USC Trojans
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Outside of Barry Sanders, Marcus Allen might have claim to the single-best season in NCAA history. In 1981, Allen compiled 2,683 offensive yards and led the nation in scoring on his way to the Heisman trophy.
Allen would be a scoring machine his entire NFL career, as well. The six-time Pro bowler scored 145 touchdowns during his NFL career and he became the first player in NFL to rush for 10,000 yards and also have over 5,000 yards receiving.
He amassed 17,655 total yards in all, but he might be remembered for his goal-line running the most.