It’s that time of year when the national college football rankings are shuffling around on a weekly basis, medicine the playoff and bowl situation is starting to take shape, capsule and the Heisman watch is heating up. But before we get to the players who will likely be the top candidates to take home the famed prize, did you know that the Heisman trophy’s earliest roots are right here in Chicago?
John Jacob “Jay” Berwanger, who played halfback for the University of Chicago Maroons football team, was the first winner of the Heisman Trophy (then called the Downtown Athletic Club Trophy) back in 1935. Berwanger became the first player to be drafted by the NFL in 1936 and was selected by the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles then traded his rights to the Bears becaue they didn’t think they could pay him what he would want. Berwanger never played for the Bears, however, because after he chose not to sign in 1936 so he could compete for a spot on the U.S. Summer Olympic team in 1936, he and George Halas could never agree on his salary – they were $2,500 apart.
Wow. $2,500. My how things are different for the top Heisman candidates in 2015. According to ESPN, the top five vote-getters in the race after last week are:
- Derrick Henry of Alabama. The current Heisman frontrunner had a fantastic game against LSU and is leading the FSB in rushing touchdowns with 17. Against LSU he ran for 210 yards and had three touchdowns to jump ahead of Leonard Fournette in votes. Up next is Mississippi State for the Alabama running back.
- Leonard Fournette of LSU. Is he unfairly losing ground because of his game against Alabama? He still has the FSB rushing lead with 172.9 yards per game. Many have speculated that he may have lost the trophy for good after he directly went up against Henry last week (and Henry clearly took that round), but isn’t that why we play all the games? And with Arkansas, Ole Miss and Texas A&M left on LSU’s schedule, Fournette could post some big numbers.
- Corey Coleman of Baylor. Now here is an interesting case – he is the only wide receiver in the top five vote-getters last week. He had 5 first-place votes (more than any other candidate) but is sitting in third place because he did not receive any votes on three of the ballots.
- Ezekiel Elliott of Ohio State. Big Ten fans know Elliott well as he most likely has run through you favorite team’s defense at will since he has rushed for 100 plus yards in 14 consecutive games. To say he is a workhorse is an understatement. He will also have a great opportunity to show how he performs against OSU’s multiple ranked opponents in the last month of the season.
- Christian McCaffrey of Stanford. McCaffrey has climbed back into the top five after being out for one week. He rushed for 147 yards against Colorado and even threw a 28-yard touchdown pass during the game.
While it looks like the top two front-runners of Henry and Fournette seem to be going head-to-head in the last few weeks of the season to grab those final and definitive votes, we have all been shocked by Heisman winners in the past – will we be this year too? One thing is for sure. There won’t be any future NFL deals blown up because of $2,500.