Interesting Facts About Heisman Trophy Runner Ups


Heisman Trophy winners get a lot of attention. Deservedly so too, after all they have accomplished some great things and been proclaimed to be the best college football player of the year. The runner up for the Heisman Trophy sometimes doesn’t get that attention.

Here is a look at some interesting little known facts about just some of the great players that have finished second in Heisman Trophy balloting:

Sam Francis – 1936 – Sam Francis played professionally for the Chicago Bears, Pittsburgh Pirates, and Brooklyn Dodgers. He also finished fourth in the shot put in the 1936 Summer Olympics. He would later become head coach of Kansas State’s football team for one season, going 0-10.

Byron “Whizzer” White – 1938 – He played three seasons in the NFL, one with the Pittsburgh Pirates and two with the Detroit Lions, before a higher calling took him away from football. He was an intelligence officer in the military and actually wrote the intelligence brief regarding the sinking of future President John F. Kennedy’s famous PT-109. He would also later be named as an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court.

Tom Harmon – 1939 – Harmon finished second in 1939 and won the award in 1940. He had one daughter marry television and music star Ricky Nelson, another marry former automaker John DeLorean, and his son is actor Mark Harmon of television and movie fame.

Glenn Davis – 1944, 1945 – Davis finished second in Heisman Trophy balloting twice. He was married for a time to actress Terry Moore, famous for roles in movies like Peyton Place.

Charlie Justice – 1948, 1949 – He also finished second twice. He played for the Redskins, but his career was shortened due to injury. In one preseason game, Justice carried the ball 11 times for 199 yards, an amazing average of 18.1 yards per carry.

Paul Giel – 1953 – After graduation, he had a career in professional baseball, pitching for the New York and San Francisco Giants, Pittsburgh Pirates, Minnesota Twins, and Kansas City Athletics. He also was a broadcaster on Minnesota Vikings games, as well as the Director of Athletics for the University of Minnesota from 1971 to 1989.

Johnny Majors – 1956 – He played in the Canadian Football League before moving into coaching. He would later become head coach at Iowa State University, the University of Pittsburgh (twice), and the University of Tennessee.

Alex Karras – 1957 – Had a long and distinguished career with the Detroit Lions. He later had a very successful career as an actor, appearing in the movie Blazing Saddles and the television series Webster.

Tom Brown – 1960 – One of the early two sport players, he played professionally with the Green Bay Packers of football and the Washington Senators of baseball.

Joe Theismann – 1970 – Had a long football career that included time in the Canadian Football League and with the Washington Redskins of the NFL. Went on to a very successful career as a football broadcaster too after his NFL career was ended by a broken leg during a sack by Lawrence Taylor.

Ed Marinaro – 1971 – Played in the NFL with the Minnesota Vikings, New York Jets, and Seattle Seahawks. He then went on to a successful acting career that included roles on Laverne & Shirley, Hill Street Blues, Sisters, and Blue Mountain State.

Anthony Davis – 1974 – Led the World Football League in rushing during his rookie season in 1975 and then in 1976 became the first player to play in the Canadian Football League and sign a contract worth a million dollars or more.

Ricky Bell – 1976 – He was drafted with the number one overall pick in the 1977 NFL Draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He died of heart failure caused by dermatomyositis in 1984 at the age of 29 years old.

Chuck Long – 1987 – After a short pro football career, Long went into coaching and eventually won a National Championship as the offensive coordinator at the University of Oklahoma in 2000. He later would become head coach at San Diego State University.

Heath Shuler – 1993 – He played pro football from 1994 to 1997 with the Washington Redskins and New Orleans Saints. He was elected to the United States House of Representatives from North Carolina’s 11th District in 2006.

Josh Heupel – 2000 – Though drafted by the Miami Dolphins in 2001 and signed as a free agent by the Green Bay Packers in 2001, he never played professional football. He has moved on into coaching and been on the staffs of both the University of Arizona and his Alma Mater the University of Oklahoma where he was the quarterbacks coach for Sam Bradford who would go on to win the Heisman Trophy in 2008.

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