Can Jameis Winston turn his Heisman Trophy into a Hall of Fame career?
Now that Jameis Winston has won the Heisman Trophy, he and his Florida State teammates can turn their attention to trying to win a national title. If he pulls off the win over Auburn, how does Winston top this season?
For any Heisman winner, there is the mandatory discussion about whether or not that player can translate the award win to an award-filled professional career. Will Winston take that Heisman Trophy and parlay it into a successful NFL career and a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame? Or, will his pro career fall short of a Hall of Fame induction? Or, will the expectations for a great pro career never come to fruition for Winston?
Since the Heisman was awarded in 1935 to Chicago running back Jay Berwanger, there have been eight winners who went on to also be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame:
1948: Doak Walker
1956: Paul Hornung
1963: Roger Staubach
1968: O.J. Simpson
1976: Tony Dorsett
1977: Earl Campbell
1981: Marcus Allen
1988: Barry Sanders
In addition to the above players, there have also been six players who were runner-up in the Heisman voting who went on to have a professional Hall of Fame career. Also noted in parenthesis is the player who won the award that year:
1946: Charley Trippi (Glenn Davis)
1966: Bob Griese (Steve Spurrier)
1967: O.J. Simpson (Gary Beban)
1982: John Elway (Herschel Walker)
1983: Steve Young (Mike Rozier)
1992: Marshall Faulk (Gino Torretta)
From 1935 to 1994 (60 Heisman Trophy award winners), there have been 27 of those years where at least one player who finished in the top five of the Heisman went on to a successful career and a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. In seven of those years (1948, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1981, 1982 and 1988) two players in the top five of the Heisman voting in now in the Hall of Fame. One year, 1956, three players in the top five of the Heisman – Paul Hornung (first), Tommy McDonald (third) and Jim Brown (fifth) – eventually found their way into the Canton shrine.
Time will tell if another year is added to the trio of 1956, but keep an eye on the Heisman class of 1997. The top five that year were Charles Woodson, Peyton Manning, Ryan Leaf, Randy Moss and Curtis Enis. Woodson, Manning and Moss could all find their way into the Hall of Fame.
One other note: Of the 251 inductees to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, 29 finished in the top five of the Heisman Trophy.
Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp