Since its founding in 1935, the Heisman Trophy, one of the most prestigious prizes in American college football, has been given out 86 times, with 85 different winners and one double winner.
With seven victories apiece, Ohio State, Oklahoma, and Notre Dame are tied for the most Heisman winners ever. With six winners, USC comes in fourth overall, while no other program has delivered more than three.
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Les Horvath won the Heisman Trophy for Ohio State for the first time in 1944, creating school history. Horvath, who played safety, safety, quarterback, and halfback on offense, guided the Buckeyes to a flawless 9-0 record as well as the Big Ten championship in 1944.
The Parma, Ohio native set a conference record in the running with 669 yards and finished first in overall offense with 953 yards. He also accounted for 1,248 all-purpose yards and was awarded the Big Ten’s MVP. Ironically, Horvath nearly skipped 1944.
Horvath started dentistry school at Ohio State after guiding the 1942 Buckeyes to a 9-1 record and the school’s first national title. He did not participate in the 1943 season. But Horvath, who had an additional year due to wartime regulations, consented to play again when Coach Carroll Widdoes urged him to do so in 1944.
Horvath later played for the Cleveland Browns and Los Angeles Rams in the NFL. He left his professional job behind and went back to Los Angeles to work as a dentist. Horvath was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1969 and the Ohio State Athletics Hall of Fame before his away in November 1995. (1977). On October 6, 2001, his jersey number “22” was retired.
Vic Janowicz was a great actor. On a junior squad with a modest 6-3 record, good enough to win the Heisman Trophy in 1950. And still today, the majority of historians list him as one of Ohio State’s all-time best football players. In all, Janowicz contributed 875 yards and 16 touchdowns in 1950. With 65 points, the Elyria, Ohio, native ultimately led the Buckeyes in scoring.
He scored two touchdowns on the ground, four more via the air, and established a Big Ten record with ten extra points in an 83-21 victory over Iowa. A 27-yard field goal versus Michigan in the well-known 1950 Snow Bowl was maybe even more spectacular. In addition to breaking two additional records in the Snow Bowl, Janowicz, a unanimous All-American in 1950, punted 21 times for a total of 685 yards.
Following graduation, Janowicz spent two seasons in the major leagues playing baseball for the Pittsburgh Pirates and one season playing football for the Washington Redskins. Janowicz passed away in February 1996. He was a member of the College Football Hall of Fame in 1976 and the Ohio State Athletics Hall of Fame in 1977. The “31” on his jersey was retired on September 23, 2000.
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Howard “Hopalong” Cassady
Ohio State supporters quickly came to understand that Howard “Hopalong” Cassady was unique. He scored three touchdowns against Indiana in his debut game, which the Buckeyes won 33-13. From that point on, “Hop” was a constant in the OSU lineup, participating in 36 of the team’s 37 contests while helping the Buckeyes compile a 29-8 record over the following four seasons. Cassady earned unanimous All-America recognition in 1954 and led the Buckeyes to a clean 10-0 record and the first of Coach Woody Hayes’ five national championships.
In 1955, Cassady once again received All-America honors for his 958 yards and 15 touchdowns of rushing. He was the first Heisman Trophy winner to get more than 2,000 votes, and the Associated Press named him the 1955 Athlete of the Year. Cassady amassed 2,466 running yards and 37 touchdowns during his time at the NCAA level.
The Detroit Lions chose him in the first round after graduation. Before quitting, he also played for Philadelphia and Cleveland. Columbus native Cassady is a member of the Columbus Baseball (2005), College Football (1979), and Ohio State Athletics (1997) Halls of Fame. November 18, 2000, saw the retirement of his jersey number “40.” 2019 September marked his demise.
He’s a greater young man than he is a football player, yet he’s the finest football player I’ve ever seen, Woody Hayes once remarked of Archie Griffin. The magnificence of Griffin quickly became apparent. In the second game of his freshman year (1972), he ran for a school-record 239 yards against North Carolina. The following year, he became the first sophomore at Ohio State to rush for more than 1,000 yards (1,577). He was also named an All-American and the Big Ten player of the year, winning the Chicago Tribune’s Silver Football award.
Griffin, a native of Columbus and a product of Eastmoor High School, won his first Heisman Trophy as a junior in 1974 after helping the Buckeyes win a third of what would end up being a Big Ten record six straight championships while running for a school-record 1,695 yards. He also won the Big Ten Silver Football award twice, was named an undisputed All-American, and won the UPI and Walter Camp Player of the Year awards.
Griffin, a graduate of Ohio State with a degree in industrial relations and the prestigious NCAA Top Five Award for combining performance in athletics, academics, as well as leadership, would go on to become a legend in college football when he won his second Heisman Trophy as a senior in 1975. And he continues to this day to be the only dual recipient of the bronze statue honoring college football’s top performer.
In addition to winning his second Heisman Trophy and receiving unanimous All-America recognition, Griffin carried for 1,450 yards as a senior in 1975. He also won the UPI as well as Walter Camp Player of the Year awards. In addition to setting NCAA records for 100-yard matches and consecutive 100-yard games, he finished his outstanding collegiate playing career with 5,177 yards of running (excluding yards from bowl games), 27 touchdowns, and further NCAA records.
The sole player to ever begin in four Rose Bowl contests, who served as president and chief executive officer of the Ohio State Alumni Association between 2004 to 2015, would have a career filled with accomplishments and honors over the following four decades. In 1986, he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
He was named among the “100 Most Influential Student-Athletes” by the NCAA in 2006. In 2011, he received the Ford-Kinnick Leadership Award for the Big Ten for the first time. In 2013, the Rose Bowl named him an “All-Century” participant. The MVP trophy for the Big Ten championship game has both Griffin’s and Red Grange’s names. Ohio State retired his “45” jersey number on October 30, 1999.
Eddie George had a remote chance of winning the Heisman Trophy at the start of the 1995 season. He was the clear favorite at the end of the campaign and was Ohio State’s sixth Heisman winner. George ran for 1,927 yards, which at the time was a school record, and 24 touchdowns in three games of 200 yards or more. On November 11, 1995, against Illinois, he set an Ohio State record with 314 yards. Doak Walker, Maxwell, Walter Camp Player of the Year, and Big Ten MVP are just a few of George’s 1995 accolades.
George, a graduate of Abington (Pa.) In High School, he finished his career with 3,768 yards of rushing, ranking second all-time at Ohio State. He carried for 1,442 yards as a junior. With 47 catches in 1995, he set a school record for a running back. He was chosen by the Houston Oilers in the first round of the NFL Draft, winning Rookie of the Year honors in 1996. He played nine seasons in the NFL, earning four trips to the Pro Bowl while running for 10,441 yards and 68 touchdowns.
He is a member of the Oilers’Titans ring of honor, and Tennessee retired his No. 27 jersey in 2019. Ohio State awarded George a bachelor’s degree in landscape architecture. He was admitted to the Ohio State Athletics Hall of Fame in 2006. On November 10, 2001, his “27” jersey was retired. He received his induction into the College Football Hall of Fame in July 2012. The Graham-George Offensive Player of the Year award is given to the finest offensive performer in the Big Ten.
Even though Troy Smith wasn’t Ohio State’s top recruit in the spring of 2002, by the completion of the 2006 football season during his Buckeye career, there were few Buckeye players with a more dazzling aura. As a sophomore in 2004, Smith guided the Buckeyes to a 4-1 record, including a 37-21 victory over Michigan in which he was responsible for three touchdowns and 386 yards of total offense. Smith led the Buckeyes to a 10-2 overall mark in 2005, which featured a nail-biting comeback victory against Michigan and a dominating triumph over Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl.
As a senior in 2006, Smith saved his most outstanding performance for last, leading the top-ranked Buckeyes to a 12-0 regular-season record and a position in the title game. He set a single-season record for touchdown passes thrown with 30 and became only the second quarterback in Ohio State history to start all three games versus Michigan with a perfect record. With the second-largest margin of victory in Heisman Trophy voting history, the consensus All-American won by a landslide.