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Most Heisman Trophy winners from college football’s elite schools: LSU Tigers pick up third Heisman

Heisman Trophy winners have been collecting college football’s most prestigious individual award since 1935, but there are only a select number of elite schools with multiple recipients of the iconic hardware.

Only 11 powerhouse programs in NCAA football have three or more Heisman Trophy winners, and the most dominant team in the country nowadays, the Alabama Crimson Tide, added to their incredible history with a fourth Heisman Trophy winner thanks to quarterback Bryce Young.

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But who has the all-time bragging rights as of now? Believe it or not, several other schools trump Alabama’s total. Read on to find out which program has the most Heisman Trophy winners, with all stats courtesy of Sports-Reference.com.

LSU Tigers – 3 Heisman Trophy winners

  • Billy Cannon, running back, 1959
  • Joe Burrow, quarterback, 2019
  • Jayden Daniels, quarterback, 2023

Jayden Daniels became the third Heisman Trophy winner in LSU history. Despite the Tigers losing three games, Heisman voters recognized that Daniels had one of the best statistical seasons in college football history, earning him the most Heisman votes. LSU went more than a decade between its first and second Heisman winners (Billy Cannon and Joe Burrow). Now, it has two in the last five years.

Auburn Tigers – 3 Heisman Trophy winners

  • Pat Sullivan, quarterback, 1979
  • Bo Jackson, running back, 1985
  • Cam Newton, quarterback, 2010

How awesome is Bo Jackson? Beyond being a Tecmo Bowl video game legend, Jackson lived up to the hype in real life. He was a two-sport professional star in football and baseball, but when he had the ball in his hands on the gridiron, there was nothing quite like it.

Cam Newton’s story is just epic, too. Off-field issues at Florida forced Newton to transfer to Blinn College. In his one year at Auburn thereafter, he led the Tigers to a national championship. Newton accounted for 50 total touchdowns (30 passing, 20 rushing) in 2010, carrying Auburn to a perfect 14-0 record in one of the greatest individual seasons ever. Despite just one season of production, Newton became the NFL’s No. 1 overall pick in 2011.

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Army Black Knights – 3 Heisman Trophy winners

  • Doc Blanchard, fullback, 1945
  • Glenn Davis, running back, 1946
  • Pete Dawkins running back, 1958

You’d hardly think of Army as a college football powerhouse, but the Black Knights had an amazing run with three of their players picking up Heisman Trophy honors in a two-decade span.

Under head coach Earl Blaik, Army posted an exceptional 121-33-10 record and won three national championships in a row. Glenn Davis and Doc Blanchard were the key players in that three-peat run. Davis had 3,099 career yards from scrimmage and 48 touchdowns, while Blanchard posted totals of 2,098 and 35 in those categories.

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Florida Gators – 3 Heisman Trophy winners

7 schools have 3 Heisman Trophy winners apiece
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  • Steve Spurrier, quarterback, 1966
  • Danny Wuerffel, quarterback, 1996
  • Tim Tebow, quarterback, 2007

It’s all about the quarterback for the Florida Gators, and even more interesting about this list is that Steve Spurrier was actually Wuerffel’s head coach when they combined to help the Gators to a national championship in 1996.

Spurrier and Wuerffel were starkly different players from Tim Tebow, though. The lightning rod that Tebow proved to be was unlike anything college football had ever seen before. Tebow accounted for 3,286 yards and 32 TDs through the air to go with 895 yards and 23 TDs on the ground when he rightfully seized the Heisman in 2007.

Florida State Seminoles – 3 Heisman Trophy winners

  • Charlie Ward, quarterback, 1993
  • Chris Weinke, quarterback, 2000
  • Jameis Winston, quarterback, 2013

There’s a theme of two-sport stars when it comes to the Seminoles’ Heisman Trophy winners.

It’s crazy to think that Charlie Ward also played basketball at Florida State and still received the Heisman as a senior. Ward went on to play in the NBA, as dual-threat QBs were few and far between when he was intending to enter the NFL, but he was electrifying for the Seminoles as a two-year starter.

Chris Weinke tried to play baseball professionally before a strong career in college football. He was the oldest player ever to win the Heisman at age 28.

Finally, Jameis Winston played baseball for the Seminoles but wisely stuck to football in the end. Matching Johnny Manziel’s groundbreaking achievement as the only other freshman Heisman recipient, Winston went even further by delivering a national championship victory that year, too.

Michigan Wolverines – 3 Heisman Trophy winners

7 schools have 3 Heisman Trophy winners apiece
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  • Tom Harmon, running back, 1940
  • Desmond Howard, wide receiver/punt returner, 1991
  • Charles Woodson, cornerback/punt returner, 1997

The Wolverines have one of college football’s richest traditions, period. Their history stretches back to the 19th century, and Tom Harmon’s three years as a tailback-quarterback hybrid helped pull Michigan out of a relative slump from the mid-1930s.

Versatility is a common thread that links these Michigan men, in fact. When it comes to Desmond Howard, he was as dangerous on offense as he was on special teams to take it to the house — Big House, pun intended.

Charles Woodson was one-of-a-kind. He’d take snaps at receiver and running back on offense, excelled as a punt return man, but most impressively, shut down the opposition as the extremely rare defensive player to join the Heisman fraternity. Woodson was just too good to be denied in 1997 when he hauled in seven of his 16 interceptions.

Nebraska Cornhuskers – 3 Heisman Trophy winners

  • Johnny Rodgers, running back/wide receiver, 1972
  • Mike Rozier, running back, 1983
  • Eric Crouch, quarterback, 2001

It’s been tough sledding for the Cornhuskers for the most part since Tom Osborne went out on top with a perfect 12-0 mark in 1997. Not long after that, however, Eric Crouch came along and hoisted the Heisman Trophy, largely thanks to his rushing prowess, as he racked up 1,115 yards on the ground and 18 touchdowns in 2001.

But let’s not forget Mike Rozier’s 2,148-yard rushing campaign in 1983 on 7.8 yards per carry and 29 TDs. How about them apples? Also, Johnny Rodgers ran for 10 scores while going over 1,000 yards receiving in 1972. That’s an incredible feat in its own right.

Related: Check out Sportsnaut’s own College Football rankings

Alabama Crimson Tide – 4 Heisman Trophy winners

7 schools have 3 Heisman Trophy winners apiece
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  • Mark Ingram, running back, 2009
  • Derrick Henry, running back, 2015
  • DeVonta Smith, wide receiver, 2020
  • Bryce Young, quarterback, 2021

Here’s a fun fact: Since the dawn of the new millennium, every single Heisman Trophy recipient has been a quarterback. That is, except for the epic triumvirate from Tuscaloosa listed above.

Yes, the Crimson Tide carry that distinction because USC’s Reggie Bush saw his award vacated in 2005 due to NCAA violations. We can still fondly remember Bush for his playmaking prowess, but let’s keep the focus on Alabama here.

Mark Ingram and Derrick Henry have gone on to successful NFL careers, defying the so-called Heisman curse. Ingram is a shorter back with a stout build whose decisive running style and power helped him thrive in college. Meanwhile, Henry is just a size-speed freak of nature who even NFL defenders want no part of tackling.

Smith’s 2020 campaign was phenomenal, as he had 117 receptions for 1,856 yards and 23 touchdowns. He rightfully beat out his quarterback and fellow first-round pick, Mac Jones, for the award.

Given what quarterback Bryce Young accomplished in 2021, it’s no surprise he became Alabama’s latest Heisman Trophy winner. They also join Oklahoma with consecutive Heisman Trophy winners.

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Notre Dame Fighting Irish – 7 Heisman Trophy winners

3 elite schools have produced a record 7 Heisman Trophy winners
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  • Angelo Bertelli, quarterback, 1943
  • Johnny Lujack, quarterback, 1947
  • Leon Hart, tight end, 1949
  • Johnny Lattner, running back, 1953
  • Paul Hornung, quarterback, 1956
  • John Huarte, quarterback, 1964
  • Tim Brown, wide receiver, 1987

It’s a rich lineage of quarterbacks in South Bend, Indiana, when it comes to Notre Dame’s multitude of Heisman Trophy winners. Before it was trendy for field generals to win the voting, the Fighting Irish had plenty of QBs get the job done.

Given how hard it is for non-quarterbacks to win, especially of late, let’s appreciate what Tim Brown did in 1987. Coming off a 5-6 season, Notre Dame needed to get things moving in the right direction under second-year head coach Lou Holtz. Brown would prove instrumental to that cause.

In helping the Irish to an 8-4 record, Brown had 34 carries for 144 yards and a score, three punt return TDs, and 846 yards receiving on only 39 receptions (21.7 yards per catch). The next year, Notre Dame had a perfect record and won the national championship.

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Ohio State Buckeyes – 7 Heisman Trophy winners

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  • Les Horvath, running back/quarterback, 1944
  • Vic Janowicz, running back/punter, 1950
  • Howard Cassady, running back, 1955
  • Archie Griffin, running back, 1974 & 1975
  • Eddie George, running back, 1995
  • Troy Smith, quarterback, 2006

Similar to USC, it’s a rich running back history at Ohio State. The man who stands out from the crowd of accomplished runners, though, is obviously Archie Griffin. The Scarlet and Gray have bragging rights in the sense that the Buckeyes are the only program to produce someone who’s earned this prestigious accolade twice.

To go over more recent history, Eddie George made the most of his final season in Columbus, rushing for 1,927 yards and 24 touchdowns to go with 47 receptions for 417 yards. That blend of hard-nosed running and pass-catching prowess made George a threat to score any time he touched the ball.

After finishing as the runner-up in 2021, C.J. Stroud has a chance to give this program their eighth Heisman Trophy winner, which would be more than any other college football team has achieved. While he’s one of four Heisman finalists, no longer having a perfect record after losing to Michigan, the QB’s odds to win don’t look great.

Oklahoma Sooners – 7 Heisman Trophy winners

Michael Chow/The Republic, Arizona Republic via Imagn Content Services, LLC
  • Billy Vessels, running back, 1952
  • Steve Owens, fullback, 1969
  • Billy Sims, running back, 1978
  • Jason White, quarterback, 2003
  • Sam Bradford, quarterback, 2008
  • Baker Mayfield, quarterback, 2017
  • Kyler Murray, quarterback, 2018

Thanks to the spread offense, Oklahoma has been a catalyst for changing the landscape of college football. Bob Stoops oversaw the Heisman-winning efforts of Jason White and Sam Bradford, but Stoops’ successor, Lincoln Riley, took everything to another level, producing two award winners who went on to be No. 1 overall draft picks.

Baker Mayfield played with a mountain-sized chip on his shoulder as a Texas Tech transfer. He thrived in Stoops’ final year but took his game to that next Heisman level with Riley at the helm in 2017, throwing for 4,627 yards, 43 touchdowns, and six interceptions.

Who would’ve thought that another Lone Star State transfer from Texas A&M, Kyler Murray, would actually top Mayfield’s prolific production the next year?

Murray was a top-10 pick in the MLB Draft but dropped a chance to pursue that path with the Oakland Athletics and in his one full season as a starter for the Sooners? Well, you know. He won the Heisman, throwing for 4,361 yards and 42 touchdowns, with 1,001 rushing yards and 12 more TDs on the ground.

And that caps off our full list of the elite college football programs that have produced three or more Heisman Trophy winners. Stay tuned to see who wins this year. Chances are, it’ll be a quarterback.

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USC Trojans – 8 Heisman Trophy winners

NCAA Football: PAC-12 Football Championship-Southern California at Utah
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  • Mike Garrett, running back, 1965
  • O.J. Simpson, running back, 1968
  • Charles White, running back, 1979
  • Marcus Allen, running back, 1981
  • Carson Palmer, quarterback, 2002
  • Matt Leinart, quarterback, 2004
  • Reggie Bush, running back, 2005
  • Caleb Williams, quarterback, 2022

Mike Garrett broke through in 1965 as USC’s first player to take home the Heisman, pioneering the tradition of tailback greatness in the first place. O.J. Simpson is infamous for his off-field life, but he nearly won back-to-back Heismans, finishing second in the 1967 voting. His two-year college career consisted of 3,423 yards rushing and 36 touchdowns.

Matt Leinart greatly benefited from Reggie Bush’s presence yet did well in his own right to guide the Trojans to consecutive national titles in a truly epic three-year starting tenure.

Carson Palmer is probably known more for what he did in the NFL than how he fared in college. He showed how sticking with the program as a fifth-year senior could pay huge dividends when he claimed his Heisman in 2002.

The most impressive campaign of all has to go to Marcus Allen, though. In 1981, he ran for 2,427 yards and 22 touchdowns on 433 carries. Those are just mind-boggling numbers and a testament to Allen’s toughness to take on that historic workload.

Thanks to Caleb Williams winning the Heisman in 2022, the USC Trojans have eight Heisman Trophy winners. However, the NCAA and Heisman Trust only recognizes them as having seven because Reggie Bush was stripped of the 2005 Heisman Trophy. After the start Williams has had this season, he could become the first repeat Heisman winner since Archie Griffin accomplished the feat in 1974-75.

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