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Texas Longhorns' Heisman History

Barking CarnivalAnalyst IDecember 11, 2009

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL - DECEMBER 10: (L to R) Heisman Trophy finalists Toby Gerhart of Stanford, Tim Tebow of Florida, Mark Ingram of Alabama, Colt McCoy and Ndamukong Suh of Nebraska pose after the Home Depot ESPNU College Football Awards at the Disney Boardwalk on December 10, 2009 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.  (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)
Doug Benc/Getty Images

If Alabama’s Mark Ingram wins the Heisman this Saturday, he will be the first from his tradition-rich program to take home the hardware. Texas, of course, has two Heismans in the vault, and Colt McCoy will be on stage Saturday as one of the finalists.

Here is a look at some Longhorn notables who also came close.

1947 Bobby Layne, Sixth-Place

The 1947 football season was full of firsts for the Longhorns. It was Blair Cherry’s first season as head coach, the team made its first-ever plane ride for a game (to Oregon), and it was the first season Texas ran out of the T-Formation.

That last first enabled Bobby Layne to establish himself as a legitimate NFL quarterback prospect as well as a consensus All-American.

Texas went 10-1 that season with the new offense, rising as high as No. 3 in the nation before losing to No. 8 SMU 14-13. The game was a showcase for two Highland Park High School classmates who would end up in the in the Hall of Fame—Layne and SMU’s Doak Walker.

Walker accounted for 125 of the Ponies' 199 yards of total offense in the game, while Layne accumulated 141 of the Horns' 196 yards of total offense. Walker would finish third in the Heisman balloting in 1947.

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Layne was an All-SWC selection all four years at Texas.

Texas finished 1947 with a Sugar Bowl win over Alabama. The Horns beat the Crimson Tide 27-2 and Layne was named MVP.

1961 James Saxton, Third-Place

By 1961, Darrell Royal had a jackrabbit of a running back in 5'11," 160-pound James Saxton. He wanted Saxton, a former QB, to carry at least 20-25 times a game from the tailback slot, but he also wanted to simplify the blocking assignments. That’s how the Flip-Flop Offense was born.

Essentially, Royal simplified all blocking assignments by having the strong side (guard, tackle, end, wingback) all flip to whatever side of the field was called for. Royal felt it would make for less confusion on the offensive line.

It worked like a charm—except that Saxton didn’t come close to getting 25 carries a game. Saxton ended the season with 846 yards on only 107 carries for a mind-boggling 7.9 yards per carry.

Texas blew out so many opponents that Royal was playing subs early in the third quarter in many games. The one loss was a 6-0 defeat at the hands of TCU when Saxton was knocked unconscious early in the contest.

Saxton appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated the week of the TCU loss.

Saxton finished third in the Heisman voting. Ernie Davis of Syracuse became the first black player to capture the trophy.

1963 Scott Appleton, Fifth-Place

The Longhorns' first national championship squad was short on offensive fireworks, but long on defense, and Scott Appleton was the heart of that defense. Appleton became the first Longhorn to win the Outland Trophy as nation’s outstanding interior lineman.

Appleton had his best efforts in big games. Against No. 1 OU, Appleton had 18 tackles and a fumble recovery that led to a score in No. 2 Texas's 28-7 win.

Appleton finished third in the Heisman voting, behind Roger Staubach.

Scott Appleton may have lost the Heisman to Staubach, but he helped make the Navy QB's life miserable in the Cotton Bowl.

Navy went into the 1964 Cotton Bowl popping off about how it should be No. 1 if it beat Texas. The Football Writers Association was going to wait until after the bowl games to name its No. 1 team.

Texas listened to all the talk and then went out and crushed Navy 28-6. Appleton led a Texas defense that held Staubach to negative-47 yards rushing. Navy finished with a total of minus-14 yards rushing, and Appleton was named Outstanding Lineman.

1970 Steve Worster, Fourth-Place

1970 saw Texas run its winning streak to 30-in-a-row thanks to the Wishbone offense and the recruiting class known as the “Worster Bunch.”

Steve Worster, the original Wishbone fullback, was a two-time All-American, and in 1970, Worster rushed for 898 yards on 160 carries for a 5.6 average, and scored 14 touchdowns as Texas went through its regular season unbeaten.

Steve Worster finished his Longhorn career with 2,353 yards rushing and 36 touchdowns in three years.

The 1970 Heisman race was the "Year of the Quarterbacks," as Worster finished fourth behind the winner Jim Plunkett of Stanford, Joe Theismann of Notre Dame, and Mississippi’s Archie Manning.

1973 Roosevelt Leaks, Third-Place

In 1973, Roosevelt Leaks was coming off a terrific sophomore year in which he had rushed for 1,099 yards and averaged 4.8 yards a carry. Texas was breaking in a new Wishbone QB—Marty Akins—but it had a strong offensive line, led by Center Bill Wyman. Texas began the season as Sports Illustrated ’s No. 1 team, but slipped to an 8-3 record.

Leaks, however, was spectacular, rushing for a then-school record 1,415 yards, and 14 touchdowns. He averaged 6.2 yards per carry.

He solidified his All-American status, and his Heisman candidacy, with an SWC-record 342 yards against SMU in the Cotton Bowl in front of a national TV audience. That performance led one of the Dallas papers that Sunday to headline its game story:

Roosevelt Leaks All Over the Field.

Leaks was named the “Texas Amateur Athlete of the Year” by the Texas Sportswriters Association in 1973.

Leaks finished third in the Heisman balloting behind Penn State running back John Capelletti and Ohio State offensive lineman John Hicks.

Leaks would have been a favorite for the 1974 Heisman, except he tore up a knee in spring training. He was advised to redshirt, but Leaks vowed to play in 1974.

He went through extensive rehabilitation and did indeed play, although he was not at full strength. Earl Campbell picked up the slack, but Royal, and Texas fans, were left wondering what it would have been like to have Leaks at full strength in the same backfield with Campbell.

2004 Cedric Benson Sixth-Place

Cedric Benson finished his career at Texas with a strong effort, gaining 1,834 yards on 326 carries for a 5.6 average and 19 touchdowns.

Cedric Benson was the 2004 Doak Walker Award Winner as the best running back in college football.

While Benson’s season earned him All-American honors, he finished sixth in the Heisman vote, behind winner USC’s Matt Leinart, OU teammates Adrian Peterson and Jason White, Utah’s Alex Smith, as well as Leinart's teammate, Reggie Bush.

2005 Vince Young: Second

Do We Really Have To Rehash This Gross Miscarriage of Justice?

I Didn’t Think So.

2008 Colt McCoy, Second-Place

Not much need to go over the bitterness of last year's events as well. Colt McCoy set an NCAA record for percentage of passes completed, lead Texas to a 10-point win over OU, and then, after an infamous tiebreaker, had to watch the Sooners’ Sam Bradford take the Heisman.

Colt McCoy gathered 1,604 points compared to Bradford's 1,726 points in the 2008 Heisman balloting.

Should McCoy win the Heisman Saturday, he will, of course, join Earl Campbell and Ricky Williams as Longhorn winners. Should he finish second, he will become the fourth player to finish second in the Heisman voting two years in a row.

The others are Glenn Davis of Army (1944-45), Charlie “Choo Choo” Justice of North Carolina (1948-49), and Darren McFadden of Arkansas (2006-07).

See more on the Heisman here .

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This article was written by srr50 of Barking Carnival

Follow Barking Carnival on Twitter: @BarkingCarnival

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