Top 10 biggest Heisman disappointments
Top 10 biggest Heisman disappointments
Dave Golokhov / Askmen.com
26 September 2006
There are two things in life that make it worth living: uncertainty and expectation.
NFL franchises would rather go easy on the uncertainty and heavy on the expectations when they are ready to invest millions of dollars into budding college football players.
In the NCAA ranks, not only do young athletes compete for BCS championships, they also battle for distinction as a potential star at the professional level.
The Heisman Trophy is named after the venerated player and coach, John Heisman, and is awarded to the most outstanding college football player each season. The annual winner is showered with acclaim.
Here is a top 10 list of Heisman Trophy winners who disappointed at the NFL level.
10. Charles White â€” USC
Heisman year: 1979
Drafted: No. 27 overall, Cleveland Browns
One good season does not make a career, but that's all Charlie White's body of work amounted to in the NFL. When he was awarded the Heisman, he held 22 NCAA, PAC 10 and USC records. Unfortunately, the only feats he would challenge in the NFL were those of mediocrity. In his first four NFL seasons with Cleveland, he compiled a total of only 942 rushing yards. Outside of his flash-in-the-pan 1,374-yard, 11-touchdown season in 1987, White did not surpass 342 rushing yards in any of his other eight seasons.
9. John Huarte â€” Notre Dame
Heisman year: 1964
Drafted: Second round, New York Jets
In 1964, John Huarte quarterbacked Notre Dame to a 9-1 record and beat out Dick Butkus â€” future pro football Hall of Famer â€” for the Heisman Trophy. He was drafted in the second round by the New York Jets, who selected some guy named Joe Naimath in the first round. Unable to translate his college game to the pro level, Huarte finished his low-profile career with only 48 pass attempts and one touchdown in six seasons.
8. Mike Rozier â€” Nebraska
Heisman year: 1983
Drafted: Second overall, Houston Oilers
Mike Rozier was selected first overall in the USFL and second overall in the NFL. Pundits, at the time, touted him as the next great back. Although Rozier did piece together two decent Pro Bowl seasons, accumulating 1,959 rushing yards and 14 total touchdowns between 1987 and 1998, he was an average running back who never met the great expectations held to him. He finished his career with a modest average of 3.8 yards per carry and only rushed for 4,462 yards in eight seasons.
7. Ron Dayne â€” Wisconsin
Heisman year: 1999
Drafted: No. 11 overall, New York Giants
With 6,397 rushing yards, Ron Dayne is the NCAA's all-time rushing leader. The Great Dayne was only the second Wisconsin Badger to win the Heisman and led his team to a 37 and 13 record and two Big Ten titles during his four-year college career. The New York Giants drafted him in the first round and expected the bruising back to punish opponents, but the big back looked painfully slow at the pro level. He teamed with emerging speedster Tiki Barber to form one part of "Thunder and Lightning" in his rookie season as the Giants ventured to the Super Bowl. Unfortunately, Dayne battled weight problems and he fell out of favor in New York as his yardage totals and number of carries successively diminished through his four seasons.
6. Archie Griffin â€” Ohio State
Heisman years: 1974 and 1975
Draft: No. 24 overall, Cincinnati Bengals
Archie Griffin is the only player to win the Heisman Trophy twice; it goes without saying that the Bengals had high hopes when they drafted him in the first round. But Griffin never dominated the NFL like he did the NCAA and was an enormous disappointment for the Bengals. He never amassed more than three rushing touchdowns in a season, and four of his seven NFL seasons passed without a single rushing touchdown.
5. Steve Spurrier â€” Florida
Heisman year: 1966
Draft: Third overall, San Francisco 49ers
Steve Spurrier beat out Purdue quarterback Bob Griese for the 1966 Heisman Trophy and in the 1967 NFL draft, Spurrier bettered Griese again as he was drafted one spot ahead of him. While Super Steve was a phenomenal quarterback in Florida, he didn't amount to more than a good backup in the NFL. His career highlight was stepping in for an injured John Brodie in 1972 and led the 49ers to the playoffs. He also guided the expansion of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a 0-14 record and finished his career with 40 touchdowns and 60 interceptions. Meanwhile, Griese quarterbacked the Miami Dolphins to an undefeated season and has since been inducted into the Hall of Fame.
4. Pat Sullivan â€” Auburn
Heisman year: 1971
Drafted: Second round, Atlanta Falcons
Pat Sullivan was an exceptional college quarterback, leading Auburn to 25 victories in 30 games. During that span, he was responsible for 73 touchdowns that tied an NCAA record. The Falcons selected him in the second round but he never proved to be good enough to start and played as a backup. At Auburn, Sullivan averaged more than 425 yards per game. In Atlanta, Sullivan finished his four NFL seasons with a completion percentage of 42.3, only 1,155 passing yards, five touchdowns and 16 interceptions.
3. Rashaan Salaam â€” Colorado
Heisman year: 1994
Drafted: No. 21 overall, Chicago Bears
Rashaan Salaam looked like a promising runner after becoming only the fourth rusher in NCAA football history to top the 2,000-yard mark and the first Chicago Bears rookie to surpass 1,000 rushing yards. All those dreams went up in smoke when Salaam admitted to having a penchant for smoking pot. After his brief career ended, he claimed to have smoked while playing for the Bears and clearly it hampered his concentration because he had a noticeable fumbling problem. Severe injuries to his leg and ankle further wore out his welcome in Chicago â€” and the NFL â€” and after a couple of unsuccessful comebacks he moped about the XFL in its one year of existence.
2. Terry Baker â€” Oregon State
Heisman year: 1962
Drafted: First overall, Los Angeles Rams
For some people, a shelf will do to house their trophies. For Terry Baker, even a modest trophy case wouldn't suffice his collection. In addition to winning the Heisman Trophy in 1962, he was the Liberty Bowl MVP, won 14 different player of the year awards, received the Maxwell Award, Helms Foundation Award and was Sports Illustrated's Sportsman of the Year. Needless to say, expectations were lofty when the Rams selected him first overall. After one quiet season as a quarterback, the Rams experimented by putting him in as a running back. That failed miserably and by 1967 he was playing for the Edmonton Eskimos in the CFL.
1. Andre Ware â€” Houston
Heisman year: 1989
Drafted: Seventh overall, Detroit Lions
Andre Ware was the first black quarterback and the first player from the University of Houston to win the Heisman Trophy, but he turned out to be a colossal failure in the NFL. The Detroit Lions selected him seventh overall in the 1990 draft and gave him a $1 million signing bonus. Ware only played in 14 games in the next four seasons and he barely completed 50 percent of his passes while throwing eight interceptions, five touchdowns and 1,112 yards. The closest he came to being a winner was in 1997, when he watched, from the bench, as Doug Flutie led the CFL's Toronto Argonauts to a Grey Cup Championship.
NFL teams carefully scouted, observed and calculated expectations for these Heisman Trophy winners, and although greatness was projected, all of them proved to be disappointments in the NFL. Mark Twain said it fittingly, although he likely wasn't referring to football prospects when he said it, "A thing long expected takes the form of the unexpected when at last it comes."
Re: Top 10 biggest Heisman disappointments
Where's Gino Toretta and Chris Weinke?
And how about Charlie Ward and Jay Berwanger, both of whom never played a down in the NFL?