Monday, June 23, 2014

Top 5 NCAA Players to Never Win a Heisman

The Heisman trophy is the most prestigious award that a college player can receive. It says that during that season, that young man was the all around best football player out of 120+ Division I schools. Winning a Heisman is no easy task. It requires a ton of hard work, good teammates to back you up, and playing for a team who usually ends up playing for the National Championship (which is not always the case if we look at players like Tim Tebow, Robert Griffin III, and Johnny Manziel).

There are some players who have had very successful collegiate careers but never managed to take the Heisman trophy home. Winning championships, bowl games, and other awards might be nice, but every player's dream is to have his named announced as a Heisman trophy winner. Below I have listed my top 5 NCAA players to never win a Heisman.

#5 Darren McFadden, Running Back, University of Arkansas

Darren McFadden is one of the best football players to ever come out of Arkansas. During his three years as a Razorback, McFadden rushed for a total of 4,590 yards and 41 touchdowns and owns nearly all of his university's rushing records. He led Arkansas to the 2006 SEC Championship Game and to two bowl games (they lost all three of these games). Throughout the course of his career, McFadden would earn:

  • Two Consensus All American honors in 2006 and 2007
  • Two Doak Walker Awards in 2006 and 2007
  • Jim Brown Trophy in 2006
  • Walter Camp Award in 2007
  • Two Offensive SEC Player of the Year Awards in 2006 and 2007
  • McFadden was also named the cover athlete for NCAA 2009

As great as a running back as he was (especially in the SEC), McFadden's success didn't translate into Heisman votes. He finished second in both the 2006 and 2007 seasons behind Troy Smith and Tim Tebow, respectively. After his junior year, McFadden entered the 2008 NFL Draft and was picked fourth overall by the Oakland Raiders. Although he has not been as dominant in the NFL compared to college, McFadden still remains with the team entering the 2014 season.

#4 Andrew Luck, Quarterback, Stanford University

Andrew Luck was pegged as the next best quarterback to come out of Stanford since a guy named John Elway. He did not disappoint as he amassed a total of 9,430 passing yards, 82 passing touchdowns, 713 completions, 957 rushing yards, and seven rushing touchdowns in his three years as a Cardinal. He left Stanford holding 14 of the school's records while also holding three Pac-12 records. Apart from the records, a few other of Luck's accolades would include:

  • MVP of the 2011 Orange Bowl
  • Maxwell Award in 2011
  • Walter Camp Award in 2011
  • Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award in 2011
  • Two Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year Awards in 2010-2011 (conference was formerly known as Pac-10 before change prior to 2011 season)
During Luck's tenure as quarterback, Stanford became a national powerhouse. Luck led them to an Orange Bowl victory, a Fiesta Bowl appearance, and left them in a good position to compete for a Pac-12 Championship (they have won two in the post-Luck era). Similar to McFadden, Andrew Luck found himself as a runner-up in the Heisman race in both the 2010 and 2011 seasons behind Cam Newton and Robert Griffin III, respectively.

Although he didn't win a Heisman, Luck's numbers still spoke for themselves. In the 2012 NFL Draft, the Indianapolis Colts took him with the first overall pick. In a way, he did defeat Robert Griffin III as the Baylor quarterback went right behind him to the Washington Redskins. Entering just his third season in the league, Luck is regarded as one of the best quarterbacks in the game and has a very bright future ahead according to many.

#3 Colt McCoy, Quarterback, University of Texas

Tasked with filling the shoes of Vince Young (who will appear later in this article), Colt McCoy established himself as a legitimate Heisman frontrunner during his four years at Texas. McCoy left Texas with 13,253 passing yards, 1,157 completions, 112 passing touchdowns, 1,589 rushing yards, and 20 rushing touchdowns. McCoy holds 48 Texas records, three Fiesta Bowl records, and 1 Alamo Bowl record.  He went 45-8 as the Longhorns QB and led them to a Fiesta Bowl victory and a National Championship appearance. Some other awards include:

  • MVP of the Valero Alamo Bowl, Pacific Holiday Bowl, and Tostitos Fiesta Bowl
  • Big 12 Champion in 2009
  • Three Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year Awards in 2006, 2008, and 2009
  • Two Walter Camp Awards in 2008 and 2009
  • Archie Griffin Award in 2008
  • All-American honors in 2008 and 2009
  • NCAA Quarterback of the Year in 2009
  • Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award in 2009
  • Davey O'Brien Award in 2009
  • Manning Award in 2009
  • Chic Harley Award in 2009
  • Maxwell Award in 2009
  • Sporting News College Athlete of the Year in 2009
  • His #12 Longhorns jersey was retired by the university
Among all his accolades, McCoy was never able to attain the Heisman. McCoy's best chances at winning it came in 2008, when he finished second to Sam Bradford. During his senior year in 2009, he finished third behind Toby Gerhart and winner Mark Ingram.

McCoy would get a shot to prove the voters wrong when his #2 Texas Longhorns met the #1 Alabama Crimson Tide in the 2010 BCS National Championship Game. Unfortunately, McCoy never got his chance at redemption as he was injured early in the first quarter and had to come out of the game. His college football career was over. Ingram meanwhile, led his team to a 37-20 victory with two rushing touchdowns and was named Offensive MVP of the game.

McCoy entered the 2010 NFL Draft following his senior year and would go in the third round as the 85th overall pick to the Cleveland Browns. After a few unsuccessful seasons in Cleveland, McCoy was traded to the San Francisco 49ers. After filing for free agency, the Washington Redskins signed McCoy prior to the 2014 NFL season and he will be competing for the third string spot on the team.

#2 AJ McCarron, Quarterback, University of Alabama

AJ McCarron was just a freshman on Alabama when his Crimson Tide defeated McCoy's Longhorns in the 2010 BCS National Championship. By the time he graduated, McCarron would have three National Championships under his belt. He was the starting quarterback for two of those squads and had a career record of 36-4 at Alabama. He is the winningest quarterback in Alabama history and all but one of his losses came against SEC opponents (the one non-conference loss was Oklahoma in the 2014 Allstate Sugar Bowl). McCarron finished his college career with 9,019 passing yards, 686 completions, 77 passing touchdowns, 235 rushing yards, and three rushing touchdowns. Besides winning three National Championships, McCarron's other accomplishments include:
  • Maxwell Award in 2013
  • Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award in 2013
  • 2012 BCS National Championship Offensive MVP
  • SEC Champion in 2009 and 2012
  • First QB ever to win back-to-back BCS National Championships
  • All time passing yards leader in Alabama football history
  • Holds Alabama record for passing yards in a season
AJ McCarron is a winner in every sense of the word. The only thing he didn't leave college with was a Heisman Trophy. In his senior year during the 2013 season, McCarron finished second behind Jameis Winston in the Heisman voting. McCarron didn't even play for the National Championship that year as a heartbreaking loss to rival Auburn knocked the Crimson Tide out of contention.

What I honestly think hurt McCarron's Heisman chances throughout his collegiate career was the team he had around him. With all these star players complementing him, McCarron really didn't need to do too much. It is possible that his accomplishments and championships can be attributed to the explosive offense and lockdown defense that make up the University of Alabama. 

McCarron entered the 2014 NFL Draft after his season year and was selected in the fifth round by the Cincinnati Bengals. After riding the bench behind Dalton for a few years, I think he will have a solid career.

#1 Vince Young, Quarterback, University of Texas

Vince Young was Colt McCoy's predecessor and was dynamic during his three years as a Longhorn. He led Texas to a Rose Bowl victory and a BCS National Championship. His game winning touchdown run to win the National Championship against USC is still regarded as one of the greatest plays in college football history. 

While at Texas, Young totaled 444 completions, 6,040 passing yards, and 44 passing touchdowns. On the ground, he was just as dangerous as he ran for 3,127 yards and 37 touchdowns. Young went 30-2 as the Texas starter, which became one of his many records that Colt McCoy would go on to surpass. Although most of his records have been broken, Young still has:
  • MVP of 2005 Rose Bowl and 2006 Rose Bowl (the latter was the National Championship)
  • Manning Award in 2006
  • Maxwell Award in 2005
  • Davey O'Brien Award in 2005
  • Archie Griffin Award in 2005
  • Consensus All-American in 2005
  • His #10 Longhorns jersey was retired by the university
Young was only seriously considered as a Heisman candidate his junior year during the 2005 season. That season, he finished second in the voting behind Reggie Bush. Young would get the last laugh however, as he beat Bush's Trojans in the Rose Bowl for the National Championship. In 2010, it was discovered that Bush received improper benefits while attending USC and his Heisman Trophy was vacated for the 2005 season. Instead of it going to the runner-up in Vince Young, the trophy remains vacant. Had the Heisman Trust awarded it to Young, then he wouldn't even be on this list.

Young entered the 2006 NFL Draft after his junior year and went third overall to the Tennessee Titans. He did well early on, but developed some psychological issues as well as some financial troubles. After being released by the Titans in 2011, it became clear that Young was a bust. He tried to resurrect his career with a variety of teams, but none of these attempts panned out. Young retired from the NFL on June 14, 2014. With no Heisman and no longterm NFL success, Vince Young is very fortunate that he still has the 2006 Rose Bowl to preserve his legacy.

Honorable Mentions: Peyton Manning, John Elway

I hope you enjoyed this Top 5 List! I will be coming out with another one next week! Until then, stay tuned for my upcoming article on the World Cup!

*All stats derived from

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