Is Cam Newton the Heisman winner of the past decade?
By: Pat Pitts
The Heisman trophy determines the best player in college football that season. All positions can win the award, but not all have.
The past ten recipients all made their mark in the NFL in many different forms. Just because you are the best player in college football, does not mean that will translate over to the professional level.
These guys deserve a top ten of their own. So allow me to do the honors.
10.) Johnny Manziel (Texas A&M)
Kicking off the rankings with the most entertaining Heisman winner. He threw for 4116 yards and 37 touchdowns to secure the award. However, his college career lasted longer than his professional one. The 22nd overall selection in 2014 played in 14 games, starting in 8 of them. He only threw for 1700 yards and 7 touchdowns. Pretty bad.
9.) Marcus Mariota (Oregon)
The 2014 recipient caught the eye of the football world with his ability to scramble and move the ball on the ground. The number two overall pick’s career can be described with one word, rollercoaster. His best achievement is a wild card playoff win before becoming a free agent looking for a gig. Mariota hit his peak at Oregon ranking him pretty low on this list.
8.) Robert Griffin III (Baylor)
Another second overall pick to make an appearance on the list.
RG3 electrified the NFL in his rookie season taking home “Rookie of the Year” honors and even playing in a playoff game for the Washington Football Team. Since his sensational season, he has been quiet on the sidelines. He spent the last few seasons in Baltimore backing up a fellow Heisman winner due to nagging injuries and inconsistent play.
He waits in free agency for a team to give him a call.
7.) Jameis Winston (Florida State University)
Mr. 30 for 30 slots in at the seven spot, which feels like a safe place for him. Drafted with the first overall pick in 2015, Winston has kept his name relevant finishing with the most passing yards in 2019. He may not have won a playoff game, yet, but Winston still has a lot of potential in being Brees’ predecessor.
6.) Kyler Murray (Oklahoma)
There is one person to thank for Kyler Murray being a part of the NFL, the Oakland Athletics. They refused to pay Murray guaranteed money, leading to Murray choosing football and being selected as the first pick in the 2019 NFL draft. Murray has proved he belongs in the league, but 2021 will forshadow if he can win the big one.
5.) Baker Mayfield (Oklahoma)
An Oklahoma QB wins the Heisman and then selected number one overall. Mayfield walked into Cleveland with a goal, change the culture. His stats may not prove anything, but the Browns recent success shows signs of promise for a snake bitten franchise desperate for a title.
4.) Lamar Jackson (Louisville)
Lamar Jackson took home the Heisman honors in 2016 then falling all the way to the Ravens in the 2nd round of that year’s draft. Since then, Lamar has won an MVP, broke numerous rushing records and is only 24 years old. 2021 looks bright for Jackson with hopes of earning his first playoff win.
3.) Joe Burrow (LSU)
Joe Burrow earned his Heisman honor after playing the best season a QB could have. He broke all passing records, took home the league’s MVP and won the National championship in blowout fashion. His first season in the NFL ended prematurely after he tore his ACL/MCL. His former teammate, Ja’Marr Chase, joins him in 2021 in hopes of recreating the dream season of 2019.
2.) Derrick Henry
It is pretty tough to find a bigger man who has won this award. The Bama running back won the award after rushing for over 2100 yards and 28 touchdowns. In 2020, he rushed for 2000 yards at the professional level, becoming the ninth player to do so in NFL history. Henry is one of the league’s premiere backs which shows how dominant of a player he was in 2015 to have won the award as a running back.
1.) Cam Newton (Auburn)
Cam Newton is the only Heisman in the past decade to have reached a Super Bowl, win a playoff game, earn rookie of the year AND MVP honors in their career. Newton has had the most success as an NFL starter. 2020 may not have proved that statement, but his numbers don’t lie. A new season with new and improved pass catchers gives Newton that opportunity to bounce back to his Heisman self.
The Heisman Award is a legendary, prestigious award. Many of the sports greatest athletes have won the award. Just because you won the award, does not guarantee success at the next level. It simply opens more doors.