This year’s Heisman Trophy ceremony will host four quarterbacks — Ohio State’s CJ Stroud, USC’s Caleb Williams, TCU’s Max Duggan, and Georgia’s Stetson Bennett. Stroud is a second-time finalist, and 2021 winner Bryce Young was not invited back to New York.
A quarterback is guaranteed to win this year, but when was the last time a non-QB won an award that heavily favors the position? It wasn’t too long ago — in 2020, Alabama wide receiver DeVonta Smith took home the Heisman and went on to be drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in the first round of the 2021 draft.
Before Smith, Alabama running back Derrick Henry won the award in 2015, and Alabama RB Mark Ingram also took home the Heisman in 2009. The last time a non-QB and non-Alabama player won the Heisman was USC RB Reggie Bush’s forfeited award in 2005.
Since 2000, 82% of Heisman winners have been (or will be, including this weekend’s award) quarterbacks, and only three non-quarterbacks have won the award: Running backs Mark Ingram in 2009 and Derrick Henry in 2015, with wide receiver DeVonta Smith taking home the trophy in 2020.
Just 26% of all top-three finalists in Heisman voting this centruy have not been quarterbacks. However, it wasn’t always like this — in all of Heisman history, just 40.6% of the trophies have been given to quarterbacks. The start of the 21st century marked a shift in the makeup of the winners.