Oklahoma State University

Barry Sanders won Oklahoma State's first Heisman following what was arguably the greatest season in the trophy's history.

Heisman Winner

Barry Sanders

RB | Junior | Oklahoma State University

Sanders won Oklahoma State’s first Heisman following what was arguably the greatest season in the trophy’s history.

The 5-8, 200-pounder set 34 NCAA records in 1988 on his way to college football immortality.

Born in Wichita, Kansas, Sanders attended Wichita North High, where he did not become the starting tailback until the fourth game of his 1985 senior season. He rushed for 1,417 yards and averaged 10.2 yards per carry in the final seven games of the season, which earned him all-state honors. However, he was overlooked by most college recruiters and his only scholarship offers were from Emporia State, Tulsa and Oklahoma State.

Sanders chose the Cowboys and showed immediate promise as a 1986 freshman, rushing for 325 yards and two touchdowns while averaging 23.7 yards on kick returns. As a 1987 sophomore, he backed up future all-pro running back Thurman Thomas, rushing for 603 yards and nine touchdowns while leading the nation in kickoff returns with an average of 31.6 (to go with two return touchdowns).

With Thomas off to the NFL, Sanders took over the starting running back spot in 1988 and proceeded to crank out a season for the ages. Sanders rushed for 2,628 yards, an average of 238.9 yards per game, with 37 rushing touchdowns. He also added a punt return TD and a kickoff return TD to bring his regular season touchdown total to 39. He produced a record 3,250 all-purpose yards and averaged 8.3 yards per play as Oklahoma State finished 9-2 and ranked 12th in the polls.

Sanders won the Heisman by sweeping all six voting regions. He actually accepted the award via satellite from Tokyo, Japan, where his team was scheduled to play a game against Texas Tech. He added another 222 rushing yards and five touchdowns against Wyoming in the bowl game, bringing his 12-game total to 2,850 rushing yards and 42 scores.

He chose to skip his senior season in college and was drafted by the Detroit Lions with the third pick of the 1989 NFL Draft. He continued to dazzle and mesmerize defenses in the NFL and was named the 1989 Rookie of the Year, the 1991 and 1994 NFC Most Valuable Player of the Year, and 1994 NFL Performer of the Year. He was the NFL MVP in 1997, becoming the fifth running back to rush for 2,000 yards in a season (2,053). He was a ten-time Pro Bowl selection and an eight-time all-NFL and Pro Bowl player.

In addition to his on-field performance, Barry donates a tremendous amount of time and money to local charities and religious organizations in Detroit, Oklahoma and his hometown of Wichita, KS. He retired from the NFL in 1999. Barry Sanders was elected to the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame and Professional Football Hall of Fame in 2004.

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Heisman Voting Results

Number of electors: 917 - Announced: December 3, 1988.

  Player Class Position School 1st2nd3rd Total Points
1Barry Sanders*JRRBOklahoma State55977471878
2Rodney PeeteSRQBUSC70264174912
3Troy AikmanSRQBUCLA31149191582
4Steve Walsh*JRQBMiami (Fla.)1610877341
5Major HarrisJRQBWest Virginia276079280
6Tony MandarichSROTMichigan State392552
7Timm RosenbachJRQBWashington State661444
8Deion SandersSRCBFlorida State031622
9Anthony ThompsonJRRBIndiana041321
10Derrick ThomasSRLBAlabama32720

Three points are awarded for first place on a ballot, with two points for second place and one point for third place..

(*) Invited, but did not attend ceremony. Sanders was in Tokyo for a game vs. Texas Tech.

Heisman Voting By Region

Heisman voters are spread out across six regions, with roughly 145 per region.

South

  Player
1Barry Sanders
2Rodney Peete
3Steve Walsh
4Troy Aikman
5Major Harris

Northeast

  Player
1Barry Sanders
2Rodney Peete
3Major Harris
4Troy Aikman
5Steve Walsh

Mid-Atlantic

  Player
1Barry Sanders
2Rodney Peete
3Major Harris
4Troy Aikman
5Steve Walsh

Midwest

  Player
1Barry Sanders
2Rodney Peete
3Troy Aikman
4Steve Walsh
5Tony Mandarich

Southwest

  Player
1Barry Sanders
2Rodney Peete
3Troy Aikman
4Steve Walsh
5Major Harris

Far West

  Player
1Barry Sanders
2Rodney Peete
3Troy Aikman
4Major Harris
5Steve Walsh

Statistics

Barry Sanders’ Heisman Year Statistics

Date Opponent Result Att Yds Avg. TDs Rec Yds Avg TDs PR Yds Avg. TDs KOR Yds Avg. TDs Plays APY YPP Total TDs
9/10/88 Miami (OH) W 52-20 18 178 9.88 2 1 10 10.00 0 1 3 3.00 0 3 130 43.33 1 22 321 14.59 3
9/24/88 Texas A&M W 52-15 20 157 7.85 2 3 14 4.66 0 3 70 23.33 1 0 00 00.00 0 26 241 9.8 3
10/1/88 Tulsa W 56-35 33 304 9.21 5 3 42 14.00 0 0 0 0.00 0 1 19 19.00 0 37 365 9.9 5
10/8/88 at Colorado W 41-21 24 174 7.25 4 0 00 00.00 0 0 0 0.00 0 0 0 0.00 0 24 174 7.3 4
10/15/88 at #10 Nebraska L 63-42 35 189 5.40 4 1 -4 -4.00 0 1 0 0.00 0 5 73 14.60 0 42 258 6.1 4
10/22/88 Missouri W 49-21 25 154 6.16 2 3 4 1.33 0 2 9 4.50 0 1 12 12.00 0 31 179 5.8 2
10/29/88 at Kansas State W 45-27 37 320 8.64 3 1 9 9.00 0 0 0 0.00 0 2 44 22.00 0 40 373 9.3 3
11/5/88 #14 Oklahoma L 31-28 39 215 5.51 2 2 30 15.00 0 0 0 0.00 0 1 9 9.00 0 42 254 6.0 2
11/12/88 Kansas W 34-13 37 312 8.43 5 2 4 2.00 0 0 0 0.00 0 3 61 20.33 0 42 386 9.2 5
11/19/88 at Iowa State W 54-7 32 293 9.15 4 1 -7 -7.00 0 1 4 4.00 0 4 56 14.00 0 38 346 9.1 4
12/4/88 + Texas Tech W 45-42 44 332 7.54 4 2 4 2.00 0 0 0 0.00 0 1 17 17.00 0 47 353 7.5
Heisman Stats AP/UPI #12 9-2 344 2628 7.63 37 19 106 5.57 0 9 95 10.55 1 21 421 20.04 1 393 3250 8.3 39
12/30/88 + #20 Wyoming W 62-14 29 222 7.65 5 2 36 18.00 0 2 18 9.00 0 0 0 0.00 0 33 276 8.4 5
Totals 10-2; AP/UPI #11 373 2850 7.64 42 21 142 0.00 0 11 113 10.27 1 21 421 20.04 1 426 3526 8.3 44

(+) Neutral Site

Sander went 1-2 passing for 17 yards against Wyoming. He had an unassisted tackle against Kansas State.

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