The guy who wins the Heisman Trophy every year is the best player in college football. However, Heisman winners don’t always find success in the NFL, and you don’t need to look too far back to figure that out. Johnny Manziel, Robert Griffin III, Cam Newton, Mark Ingram, and Sam Bradford are the five most recent Heisman winners not still in college, and none of them have lived up to their lofty Heisman expectations.
Of course, ultimately it’s still too early to say these guys are total NFL busts. There’s still time for them to turn it around and become stars. But there are plenty of other Heisman winners who definitely are NFL busts. And today we’re going to take a look at 15 of them.
Does that mean the 2013 and 2014 Heisman winners Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota won’t be successful NFL quarterbacks? Of course not. It just means that the Heisman doesn’t guarantee anything.
Former SOoners QB Jason White won the Heisman in 2003 thanks to his 3,846 yards, 40 touchdowns, 158.1 QB rating, and the fact that he led his team to the BCS National Championship Game. Then he followed up that performance with another 3,205 yards and 35 touchdowns in 2004.
However, NFL scouts just didn't like him, and in 2005 White became just the third Heisman winner ever to go undrafted. He eventually did get signed as a free agent by the Titans, but White quite football before he could play a game citing his "weak knees."
15. Jason White (Oklahoma, 2003)
In 1997, a 25-year-old Chis Weinke quit professional baseball and decided to go play quarterback for Bobby Bowden at Florida State. Two years later he led the Seminoles to an undefeated season and a National Championship. Then, in 2000, he passed for 4,167 yards and, at 28, became the oldest person to win the Heisman.
Unfortunately, success did not follow him to the NFL. Selected in the 4th round of the 2001 draft by the Panthers, Weinke won his first game as a starter before losing the next 15 straight. Over the next seven years, he would throw 15 touchdowns and 26 interceptions for a QB rating of 62.2.
But hey, at least he got drafted as a quarterback...
14. Chris Weinke (Florida State, 2000)
Nebraska QB Eric Crouch won the Heisman in 2001, but it was for his rushing abilities, not his passing abilities. Crouch only threw for just 1,510 yards and seven touchdowns, but he rushed for 1,115 yards and 18 touchdowns. Consequently, NFL teams looked at him as a wide receiver prospect rather than a quarterback prospect. And the Rams took a chance on him in the third round in 2002.
It did not work out. He never played a regular season game.
13. Eric Crouch (Nebraska, 2001)
Gino Torretta led the Miami Hurricanes to an undefeated season and a co-national championship with 3,095 yards and 20 touchdowns in 1991. Then, in 1992, he led the Canes to a second straight title game appearance (which they lost) with almost identical numbers, winning the Heisman Trophy. However, Torretta was not considered a viable NFL prospect. He was lucky to get drafted by the Vikings in the seventh round in 1993, but he would go on to throw just 16 passes in his NFL career—with one touchdown and one interception.
12. Gina Torretta (Miami, 1992)
Troy Smith passed for 2,542 yards and 30 touchdowns for the Buckeyes in 2006, leading them to the BCS title game against Florida. (They lost.) After that, Smith was drafted in the fifth round of the 2007 NFL Draft by the Ravens. However, he only played in 20 games, sticking around for just four seasons.
11. Troy Smith (Ohio State, 2006)10.
Danny Wuerffel threw for 3,625 yards and 39 touchdowns for Florida in 1996, winning the Heisman trophy. However, it's a good thing he actually graduated, because his NFL career was nothing special. Drafted in the fourth round by the Saints, Wuerffel played in 25 games over six seasons, throwing 12 touchdowns and 22 interceptions.
10. Danny Wuerffel (Florida, 1996)
Ward won the Heisman in 1993 after throwing for 3,032 yards and 27 touchdowns with just four interceptions, while also rushing for 339. However, Ward also played college hoops and said he wouldn't play football if not selected in the first round. So nobody picked him until the third round, and he decided to head to the NBA, where he played 10 years for the Knicks.
9. Charlie Ward (Florida State, 1993)
With his success at USC and his Hollywood good looks, Matt Leinart was the King of L.A. in the early 2000s. The guy won the Heisman in 2004, leading USC to a (since vacated) BCS National Championship.
In the NFL, though? Total dud. He appeared in 33 games over six seasons, throwing 15 touchdowns and 22 interceptions.
Now, at the age of 31, he's out of the game completely.
8. Matt Leinart (USC, 2004)
You knew Tebow would make the list. Here he is at #7. The guy won the Heisman in 2007 with 3,286 yards, 32 touchdowns, six interceptions, and a National Championship. And in 2009 he won his second National Championship.
Despite questions about his throwing accuracy, the Broncos took him with the 25th overall pick in the 2010 draft. But you know how it goes from here—Tebowmania, amazing comeback wins, traded to the Jets, released, signed by the Pats, released, and...that's it. He's done. Now he works for ESPN.
7. Tim Tebow (Florida, 2007)
Terry Baker led the Beavers to a 9-2 record with 4,979 total yards and 38 total touchdowns. That's a lot even now, and it was insane in 1962. So they gave him the Heisman, and the Rams took him with the #1 pick in the 1963 NFL Draft.
It was all downhill from there. Baker played just three years in the NFL, throwing only 21 passes with zero touchdowns and four interceptions before calling it a career.
6. Terry Baker (Oregon State, 1962)
Andre Ware made history in 1989, becoming the first black quarterback and the first from the University of Houston to win the Heisman. And he definitely deserved it. Ware threw for 4,699 yards and 44 touchdowns that year, and NFL scouts loved him. So the Lions took him with the 7th pick of the 1990 draft.
He was a huge flop. In five NFL seasons, Ware had five touchdowns, eight interceptions, 1112 passing yards, and a 63.5 passer rating.
5. Andre Ware (Houston, 1989)
Everyone knows the story of Ricky Williams: supremely talented Heisman-winning running back who chose smoking pot over NFL superstardom. However, at least Williams managed to turn in four excellent seasons in Miami and New Orleans.
Rashaan Salaam won the 1994 Heisman with the Colorado Buffalos with 2,055 yards and 24 touchdowns. Then he was picked with the 24th overall pick by the Bears, and rushed for over 1000 yards in his rookie year. Everything was looking good.
Then he rushed for just 496 yards in 1996, and two years later he was out of the game.
Why? "That marijuana makes you lazy," he told Outside the Lines a few years ago.
4. Rashaan Salaam (Colorado, 1994)
Ron Dayne was a monster at Wisconsin, rushing for 7,125 yards and 71 touchdowns (bowls included) in four years. In 1999, when he won the Heisman, he has 2,034 of those yards and 20 of those touchdowns. He seemed like he'd be a classic workhorse NFL running back, so the Giants took him 11th overall.
Unfortunately, Ron Dayne liked to eat. A lot. After three mediocre seasons, the Giants told him to lose 40 pounds or not show up to training camp in 2004.
He did manage to lose the weight. But he still didn't play well, and two years later he was out of the game.
3. Ron Dayne (Wisconsin, 1999)
Never heard of Howard Cassady? Obviously you're not an Ohio State fan. He might just be the greatest all-around athlete in the schools history.
As a halfback the guy ran the football for 4,403 yards and 37 touchdowns in 36 career games—which is 122 yards and 1.03 touchdowns per game. However, that wasn't all Cassady did. He also played halfback, and legend has it that in four years a pass was never completed against him.
Oh, and he played baseball, too. In 1955 he led the Buckeyes in home runs. In 1956 he led them in steals.
So you get the idea: pure athlete. In 1955 he didn't just win the Heisman. He was also named the AP's Athlete of the Year.
Unfortunately, his athleticism did not help him succeed in the NFL. He was drafted 3rd overall by the Lions in 1956, but in his best year he had just 604 yards and seven touchdowns.
2. Howard Cassady (Ohio State, 1955)
Only one college football player has ever won the Heisman twice, and that player is Archie Griffin. The Ohio State running back won in in 1974 and then again in 1975, rushing for more than 1,400 yards both years. He was then selected by the Bengals with the 24th pick in the 1976 draft, because how could you go wrong with a two-time Heisman-winner?
Well, they went wrong. Griffin had a solid rookie campaign, rushing for 625 yards and three touchdowns. But in the six seasons after that he had just 2,175 yards combined with only four more touchdowns.
Now that's a bust.
1. Archie Griffin (Ohio State, 1974 & 1975)
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