University of Southern California

Carson Palmer became USC's fifth Heisman winner (and first since 1981) while helping lead the Trojans to their most wins and highest ranking since 1979.

Heisman Winner

Carson Palmer

QB | RS Senior | University of Southern California

Palmer became USC’s fifth Heisman winner — and first since 1981 — while helping lead the Trojans to their most wins and highest ranking since 1979.

Born in Laguna Niguel, Calif., the 6-foot 5-inch Palmer was a star football and basketball player at Rancho Santa Margarita High. By his senior year in 1997, he was considered one of the top quarterbacks in the country, as he threw for 2,685 yards and 31 touchdowns while leading his team to its second-straight state title.

Palmer signed with USC in the spring of 1998 and was immediately thrust into a key backup role as a true freshman. He started the final five games for the Trojans and finished with 1,755 passing yards and seven touchdowns.

Expectations were high heading into his sophomore season and Palmer got off to a nice start, but he broke his collarbone in the third game against Oregon and was lost for the rest of the year. He finished with 490 yards and three touchdowns, but was allowed to redshirt. Palmer threw for 2,914 yards and 16 touchdowns as a 2000 sophomore and 2,717 yards and 13 touchdowns as a 2001 junior, but it seemed that his awesome physical potential was taking forever to be realized.

But 2002 changed all that. Palmer blossomed into an elite player thanks to the tutelage of famed offensive coordinator Norm Chow. The strong-armed Palmer threw for 3,639 yards and 32 touchdowns as the Trojans finished 10-2 and earned a trip to the Orange Bowl. Palmer got especially hot in the second half of the season, throwing 19 touchdowns in the final six games — including four in a key win over Notre Dame — to take home the Heisman against a tough field that included Larry Johnson and Willis McGahee.

Palmer was later the MVP in USC’s bowl victory over Iowa, which gave the Trojans a No. 4 ranking — their highest finish in the polls since 1979.

Palmer wound up the Pac-10’s career passing and total offense leader and set numerous USC career records along the way. He went on to be the number one pick in the 2003 NFL Draft by Cincinnati, where he played for several years before productive stints at Oakland and Arizona.

More Articles About Carson Palmer

Heisman Voting Results

Number of electors: 922 - Announced: December 13, 2002.

 PlayerClassPositionSchool1st2nd3rdTotal Points
1Carson PalmerRS SRQBUSC2422241541328
2Brad BanksRS SRQBIowa1991731521099
3Larry JohnsonSRRBPenn State108130142726
4Willis McGaheeRS SORBMiami101118121660
5Ken DorseySRQBMiami1228999643
6Byron LeftwichRS SRQBMarshall222634152
7Jason GesserRS SRQBWashington State5221574
8Chris BrownSRRBColorado5111148
9Kliff KingsburyRS SRQBTexas Tech622133
10Quenton GriffinSRRBOklahoma18928

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

Heisman Voting By Region

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


1Carson Palmer200
2Brad Banks178
3Willis McGahee155
4Ken Dorsey100
5Larry Johnson97


1Carson Palmer225
2Larry Johnson161
3Ken Dorsey149
4Brad Banks122
5Willis McGahee120


1Carson Palmer203
2Larry Johnson164
3Brad Banks151
4Ken Dorsey113
5Willis McGahee110


1Brad Banks289
2Carson Palmer189
3Willis McGahee106
4Larry Johnson102
5Ken Dorsey82


1Carson Palmer215
2Brad Banks192
3Larry Johnson112
4Ken Dorsey92
5Willis McGahee90

Far West

1Carson Palmer296
2Brad Banks163
3Ken Dorsey107
4Larry Johnson90
5Willis McGahee79


DateOpponentResultAttCompPctYardsYPATDIntRatingRush AttYardsYPCTDPlaysTotal OffYPPTotal TDs
09/02/02#14 AuburnW 24-17322371.93029.4412148.963-4-1.331352988.512
09/14/02at #20 ColoradoW 40-3302273.32448.1310152.654-5-1.251342397.032
09/21/02at #7 Kansas StateL 20-27461839.11864.041080.274-28-7.000501583.161
09/28/02Oregon StateW 22-0412356.12315.6321114.645-2-0.400462294.982
10/05/02at #10 WSUL 27-30503264.03817.6221137.217-23-3.291573586.283
10/12/02CaliforniaW 30-28392564.12897.4122133.025-24-4.800442656.022
10/19/02WashingtonW 41-21342161.834810.2441180.68263.000363549.834
10/26/02at OregonW 44-33423173.844810.6751197.932-14-7.000444349.865
11/09/02at StanfordW 49-17322268.83179.9140193.214-32-8.000362857.924
11/16/02Arizona StateW34-13342058.82146.2920131.113-16-5.331371985.353
11/23/02at UCLAW 52-21321959.42547.9440167.303227.330352767.894
11/30/02#17 Notre DameW 44-13463269.64259.2442167.173-6-2.000494198.554
Heisman StatsBCS #4, AP # 510-245828862.936397.953210148.3145-126-2.80450335136.9836
01/02/03+ #8 IowaW 38-17312167.73039.1110160.49540.800363078.531
TotalsBCS #4, AP #411-248930963.239428.063310149.0950-122-2.44463938207.0937

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Carson Palmer - 2002 Heisman Winner from USC
Carson Palmer Heisman Winner profile
Carson Palmer with Heisman Trophy Award