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Heisman Trophy history: Facts about college football’s most prestigious award

The biggest individual prize in college football is on the line this Saturday. Here’s the history of the award.

Archie Griffin Poses with the Heisman Trophy Photo by Bettmann Archive/Getty Images

The most prestigious award in college football will be awarded this weekend with the 2022 Heisman Trophy ceremony taking place at 8 p.m. ET from the Jazz at Lincoln Center Appel Room in New York City.

This will the 88th Heisman Trophy ceremony and finalists Caleb Williams (USC), Max Duggan (TCU) , C.J. Stroud (Ohio State), and Stetson Bennett IV (Georgia) are all vying to etch their names in history by taking home the prestigious trophy. Technically, they’ll receive two: one for themselves and one for their university to put on display.

Let’s take a look at some of the history of the Heisman Trophy.

Last year’s Heisman Trophy winner

Alabama quarterback Bryce Young took home the award in 2021, throwing for 4,872 yards, 47 touchdowns, and seven interceptions during the campaign. He became the second straight Crimson Tide player to win the Heisman, following wide receiver DeVonta Smith in 2020.

Young had a chance to become a finalist once again this year, but lower stat numbers and a mid-season injury kept him out of the field

Heisman Trophy winners by position

Quarterback is the position that has won the trophy the most, with 36 winners. Add another two listed as halfback-quarterback in Iowa’s Nile Kinnick (1939) and Ohio State’s Les Horvath (1944).

21 “outright” running backs have won the award but when you combine the halfbacks, fullbacks, and other various assorted players that ran out of the backfield in the Wing-T or Diamond, you can add another 25 players.

Heisman Trophy winners by school

Four schools are tied for the most Heisman winners produced at seven each. Those schools include Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Ohio State, and USC (yes, we’re counting Reggie Bush’s Heisman Trophy. We’re not NCAA cops. Get out of here with that foolishness). If Caleb Williams wins on Saturday, the Trojans will officially take the mantle for ‘Heisman U’ at eight.

Following that group is Alabama, who has produced all four of its Heisman winners in recent years during the Nick Saban era. After the Crimson Tide, six different programs have produced three winners apiece.

Multi-time winners

Only won man holds the distinction of being a multi-time winner and that’s Ohio State running back Archie Griffin, who won the award in 1974 and 1975. Numerous reigning Heisman winners have fallen short of repeating for various reasons, from injuries to other contenders leapfrogging them.

Location

The Downtown Athletic Club in Manhattan was the trustee and host of the event until 2001, when the 9/11 attacks damaged their location and the organization eventually filed for bankruptcy.

The Yale Club of New York City took over presentation rights in 2002 and 2003, with the ceremony at the Marriott Marquis on Broadway. The Marquis also held the 2004 event, but the newly-formed Heisman Trust took over governance of the award that same year, and in 2005 moved it to the PlayStation Theater in Times Square, where it remained for 15 years.

The PlayStation Theater closed at the end of 2019, and the ceremony took place virtually in 2020 from ESPN’s studios in Bristol, Connecticut due to Covid-19.

The Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Appel Room in New York City served as the host for the first time last year. 85 winners of the award will have their painted portrait on display, leaving out Reggie Bush as a result of his award being forfeited.