The Colleges With the Most Heisman Trophy Winners

College Heisman Trophy Winners

As we wrap up the college football season, it’s important to recognize the most outstanding players from the past year. USC’s Caleb Williams was the recipient of the 2022 Heisman Trophy. The Heisman Trophy has historically been one of the best representations of excellence in college football. Some schools reign supreme when it comes to nurturing Heisman winners. Here is some information about the colleges with the most Heisman Trophy winners.


The Colleges With the Most Heisman Trophy Winners

There is some debate about the colleges with the most Heisman Trophy winners. If you count all Heisman Trophies ever awarded to a player, including those later revoked, then USC has the most Heisman Trophy winners, with eight total. This includes the most recent trophy awarded to Caleb Williams and the trophy awarded to Reggie Bush in 2005. There are also three schools with seven recognized Heisman Trophy winners: Ohio State, Oklahoma, and Notre Dame.

Now, according to some college football scholars and NCAA officials, due to Reggie Bush’s forfeited trophy because of NCAA violations, one of USC’s Heisman Trophies does not count toward their running total. This means, with the newest winner, Caleb Williams from USC, the University of Southern California would only have seven recognized awards and there would be a four-way tie for the most awards between Ohio State, Oklahoma, Notre Dame, and USC.

History of the Heisman Trophy

Here is a detailed history of the Heisman Trophy award:

Jay Berwanger Signed 1991 Heisman Collection Card #1 Autographed Chicago PSA/DNA
Jay Berwanger – Heisman Collection Card

1935: DAC Trophy Is Awarded

In 1935, the Downtown Athletic Club of New York City, a private sporting organization in Manhattan, held a trophy ceremony to recognize the most outstanding college football player in the United States. The award was given to Jay Berwanger, a halfback from the University of Chicago who won the trophy by a landslide victory. The trophy was renamed the following year after John Heisman (1869-1936), a college coach in Georgia who invented several football techniques, including the forward pass.

Larry Kelley Autographed Photograph - Heisman 1936 insc 8x10 inch + PSA DNA
Larry Kelley Autographed Photograph – Heisman 1936

1936: First Official Heisman Trophy Is Awarded

In 1936, John Heisman died, and the trophy was renamed in his honor. Prior to 1936, no award called the Heisman Trophy had been given. On Dec. 2, 1936, Larry Kelley from Yale was honored with the award. Kelley won the award by dominating the college football field, earning 213 points, four times more than the point total of any other player that season. He is the first to ever win the Heisman Trophy.

Autographed Pete Dawkins Photo - Heisman 58 8x10 Army
Autographed Pete Dawkins Photo – Heisman 1958

1958: Pete Dawkins Wins for West Point

Pete Dawkins wins the Heisman in 1958. He is widely considered to be one of the greatest all-around football players in college history. He was named to the collegiate All-America team and won four national championships with Army during his time at West Point.

Ernie Davis Card with piece of game worn pants Syracuse

1961: Ernie Davis Wins the Heisman

Ernie Davis from Syracuse University wins the Heisman Trophy in 1961. He was the first African American to win the award, as well as the first from a Big East Conference school. In addition to this, he was only the second player of his race to be named first-team All-American. After winning, he received a visit from then-President of the United States John F. Kennedy and was invited by Kennedy to his inauguration.

Jim Plunkett Stanford Cardinal Autographed Riddell VSR4 Mini Helmet
Jim Plunkett Stanford Cardinal Autographed Riddell VSR4 Mini Helmet

1970: Jim Plunkett Wins the Heisman Trophy

Jim Plunkett from Stanford University wins the Heisman Trophy in 1970. He is also known as “The Air Raid.” Plunkett is widely considered to be one of the most accurate quarterbacks in history and is 73rd on the list for career passing yards with 25,882.

Archie Griffin Autographed Picture - 11x14 HT 1974 75 Heisman)- Authentic Hologram
Archie Griffin Autographed Picture – 1974-75 Heisman

1975: Archie Griffin Wins His Second Heisman Trophy

In 1975, Archie Griffin wins his second Heisman Trophy. He is the only player in college football history to win the award twice. He is also the only player to start in four Rose Bowls. Griffin played running back for Ohio State University and was a two-time consensus All-American. After his college career, he played professionally for the Cincinnati Bengals in the National Football League (NFL).

Charles Woodson Autographed Mitchell & Ness University of Michigan Jersey w/
Charles Woodson Autographed Mitchell & Ness University of Michigan Jersey w/ “Heisman ’97

1997: Charles Woodson Wins the Heisman Trophy

Charles Woodson wins the Heisman Trophy in 1997. He is widely known for his defensive abilities, including his incredible interception total of 65 during his career with the Michigan Wolverines, and also has been known for being a leader on the field. The main reason why he was chosen by many voters is because of his ability to lead and make big plays on defense.


Location of the Ceremony

The location of the Heisman Trophy ceremony has changed throughout the years.

1935-1959: Downtown Athletic Club

When the Heisman Trophy began in 1935, it was not intended to be a big award or show. However, it has evolved over time into a much bigger event known as the Heisman Trophy Ceremony. From 1935 to 2001, the award ceremonies were held at the Downtown Athletic Club in New York. After the attacks of 9/11, the ceremony was moved to other locations.

2002-2003: The Yale Club of New York City

In 2002, the award was hosted by the Yale Club in New York City at the Marriott Marquis. The club normally functions as a private meeting place for alumni of Yale University, but it sometimes hosts events for the public.

2004: Marriott Marquis on Broadway, New York City

In 2004, the ceremony was held at the Marriott Marquis on Broadway in New York City. ESPN aired the ceremony on Dec. 11, 2004. Matt Leinart of USC was given the award.

2005-2019: PlayStation Theater in Times Square

In 2005, the award ceremony was moved from the downtown athletic club to the PlayStation Theater in Times Square in New York City.

2020-2021: Remote Ceremony

Due to COVID, the ceremony was held remotely in 2020 and 2021.

2022: The Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Appel Room in New York City

For the first time, the ceremony was in the Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Appel Room in New York City. USC’s Caleb Williams took the trophy home.


USC Heisman Trophy Winners

As the school with the most Heisman Trophy winners, let’s take a moment to describe each of the winners from the University of Southern California:

Mike Garrett Hand Signed Autographed Wilson NFL Football '65 Heisman
Mike Garrett Hand Signed NFL Football ’65 Heisman

Mike Garrett (1965)

Mike Garrett is the first Heisman to win as a Trojan. The San Diego Chargers quarterback graduated from USC in 1966 with a degree in sociology. Garrett was a two-time All-American with 3,221 yards and 30 touchdowns at USC before going on to turn pro with the NFL’s San Diego Chargers in 1966. He was named as a two-time AFL All-Star and played in the 1967 Super Bowl.

O.J. Simpson Autographed USC Trojans Speed Mini Helmet w/Heisman 68
O.J. Simpson USC Trojans Speed Mini Helmet w/Heisman 68

O.J. Simpson (1968)

At the age of 20, O.J. Simpson won the Heisman for USC in 1968. He won after leading the Trojans to a 9-1-1 season, including a Rose Bowl loss to Ohio State University. Throughout his college career, Simpson gained 334 carries during his college career with 36 touchdowns.

Charles White Signed Autographed 8X10 Photo USC
Charles White Signed Photo USC “79 Heisman”

Charles White (1979)

Charles White was the running back for USC who won the Heisman Trophy in 1979. He led the NCAA Conference in rushing yards with 2,050 rushing yards and 19 touchdowns that same year. Some of his career achievements include being the NFL Comeback Player of the Year in 1987, a first-team All-Pro player in 1987, the NFL rushing yards leader in 1987, and the UPI Player of the Year in 1979.

Marcus Allen USC Trojans Autographed 8
Marcus Allen USC with “Heisman 81” Inscription

Marcus Allen (1981)

Marcus Allen was a running back for USC from 1978-1981, winning the Heisman Trophy his senior year. During his career, Allen had a total of 12,243 rushing yards and 587 passes for 5,412 yards. He scored a total of 145 touchdowns throughout his career, including 123 rushing touchdowns. Marcus Allen received six Pro Bowl elections.

Carson Palmer Autographed 11x14 Photo USC HEISMAN Southern California JSA
Carson Palmer – USC HEISMAN Southern California

Carson Palmer (2002)

Carson Palmer was the Heisman Trophy winner in 2002 and is a former quarterback for USC. During his winning season, he had 309 completions, 489 attempts, 3,942 passing yards, 33 touchdown passes, and 10 interceptions. Palmer was named MVP in the 2004 Orange Bowl.

Matt Leinart signed USC Trojans 16x20 Photo w/ Trophy- Heisman 04/ 2X Champs- Leinart Hologram
Matt Leinart signed USC Trojans Photo

Matt Leinart (2004)

Matt Leinart won the Heisman Trophy in 2004 while playing quarterback at USC. During his senior season, Leinart led USC to an undefeated season and a National Championship victory over the University of Oklahoma Sooners.

Reggie Bush Signed Sports Illustrated Magazine Authentic Autograph Usc Trojans
Reggie Bush USC Trojans Signed Sports Illustrated

Reggie Bush (2005)

Reggie Bush won the 2005 Heisman Trophy while playing at USC. His college career included a 2006 BCS National Championship against the University of Texas Longhorns. Attached to the win, Bush was later stripped of his Heisman Trophy due to NCAA violations regarding his improper benefits.

Caleb Williams USC Trojans ProSphere Heisman Memorial Trophy Jersey - Cardinal

Caleb Williams (2022)

Caleb Williams was born in Washington, D.C. He is currently a sophomore at USC and is the 2022 Winner of the Heisman Trophy. In the 2022 season, Williams had 4,075 yards, 37 touchdowns, and four interceptions. Williams spent his freshman year playing for OU but had an even more impressive season this year with the Trojans. Caleb Williams was a clear winner for this year’s Heisman, giving USC a record eight trophies.

There is still some debate among college football fanatics about which school has the most Heisman Trophy winners because if Reggie Bush’s Heisman is not counted, there’s still a four-way tie for the most Heisman trophies. The true dominant school is up for debate, but one thing remains true: College football season starts again in 2023.



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