Will a Tennessee Player Ever Win a Heisman Trophy?
by Kavin Caruso
Tennessee Vols Heisman History
There hasn’t been any Heisman winner in Knoxville. The Tennessee Volunteers have won 6 National Championships, most recently was in 1998. The Vols had some great players over the years, one is Peyton Manning. The last time a Tennessee player was in the Heisman race was back in 1997, guess who? That’s right, Peyton Manning. He finished 2nd behind Charles Woodson who was a cornerback for Michigan Wolverines. In 1996, Peyton Manning finished 8th in the Heisman race and in 1995, Peyton finished 6th in the ballot. In 1996, Danny Wuerffel of Florida won the Heisman and in 1995 Eddie George of Ohio State won the Heisman.
In 1993, quarterback Heath Shuler who later played for the Washington Redskins. He finished 2nd behind Charlie Ward of Florida State.
Heath Shuler was the starting quarterback for Tennessee in 1992 and 1993. He had a great season in 1993; he threw for 2,353 yards with 25 touchdowns and 8 interceptions. Heath Shuler helped Tennessee win 9 games that year. It was Philip Fulmer’s 2nd season as head coach at Tennessee.
In 1969, Linebacker Steve Kiner was 9th in the Heisman ballot. That year, Oklahoma Sooner Steve Owens won the Heisman. He was a fullback for the Sooners. In 1967, there were two players from the Volunteers that were on the Heisman ballot. Bob Johnson who played center, was 6th on the ballot and quarterback Dewey Warren finished 8th on the ballot. The Heisman winner in 1967 was Gary Beban, a quarterback from UCLA. In 1964, Steve DeLong a middle guard finished 8th on the Heisman ballot. In 1964, John Huarte, a quarterback from Notre Dame won the award.
Now the last time there was a Heisman winner on a team that had a sub 500 record was Paul Hornung of Notre Dame. Notre Dame was 2-8; Tennessee was 10-0, went to the Sugar Bowl but lost to Baylor. Let’s talk about that for a minute. Back in 1956, we had black and white tvs, Lucy was popular, the president at that time was Dwight Eisenhower, and we did not have computers and internet. We also didn’t have ESPN, so most people didn’t see all the teams play. The newspaper writers who voted for the Heisman winners were from the north mainly. Notre Dame is a popular school; we all know they won many national championships. Paul Hornung was a quarterback for them; he later became a running back for the great Green Bay Packers in the 1960’s. Johnny Majors later became a head coach at the University of Pittsburgh, Iowa State, and of course his alma mater, Tennessee. Tennessee won the SEC conference championship in 1956.
Well in 1956, there were more bias writers and many sportswriters didn’t like many southern schools. Most of the writers were from either from California or from the north. Most of the sportswriters watched the teams from the Big Ten, or Pac 10, or even the Big 8. Teams from the south had a hard time being recognized for national exposure during the 30’s to the 70’s.
In today’s football world, a great player on a losing team would never be considered for a Heisman ballot. If a team loses 2 games, that player on the team who was considered a Heisman winner would be considered dropped. You almost have to win all your games to be on the Heisman ballot. It’s a lot tougher now than before, but you will have more exposure on tv and internet today. So the question still remains, will a player from Tennessee win the Heisman in the near future?