University of Southern California

Charles White became USC's third Heisman winner while finishing his career as the NCAA's No. 2 all-time leading rusher.

Heisman Winner

Charles White

RB | Senior | University of Southern California

Charles White became USC’s third Heisman winner while finishing his career as the NCAA’s No. 2 all-time leading rusher.

Born in Los Angeles, White attended San Fernando High where he was an all-star football player and a state-champion 330-yard hurdler. As a 1975 senior, he played fullback in a wishbone offense, rushing for 1,118 yards and 14 touchdowns while averaging 9.4 yards a carry.

White signed with USC in the spring of 1976 and made an immediate impact as a true freshman the following fall, rushing for a school freshman-record 858 yards and 10 touchdowns as the oft-used backup to Heisman runner up and first-pick-in-the-draft Ricky Bell.

As a sophomore, White took over the starting tailback spot and gained 1,478 yards. He improved greatly as a junior, earning All-American honors while rushing for 1,760 yards and 13 touchdowns as the Trojans finished 12-1 and won a share of the national title.

White entered the 1979 season as one of the Heisman front runners and he did not disappoint. Despite missing about a game-and-a-half due to injury, he led the nation in rushing with 1,803 yards and 18 touchdowns as the Trojans finished 10-0-1 on the year. He tallied four 200-yard efforts during the regular season and had three more game where he rushed for at least 185. In the last 10 games of the season, he averaged 201 yards per game.

As a result, the 5-10, 190-pounder won the Heisman handily over returning Heisman winner Billy Sims of Oklahoma.

White then capped his season with one of the great performances in bowl history, rushing for 247 yards on 39 carries in a dramatic 17-16 victory over Ohio State in the Rose Bowl. His diving touchdown with 1:32 to play was the deciding score.

In his regular season career, White rushed for 5,598 yards and scored 53 touchdowns. The 1978 and 1979 Rose Bowl Player of the Game, he is a member of the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame. 

White graduated with a degree in Speech Communications. Drafted by the Cleveland Browns in 1980 with the 27th pick of the first round, he also played for the LA Rams, for whom he won the NFL rushing title in 1987.

White was elected to the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame in 1996. He died Jan. 11, 2023 at the age of 64.

More Articles About Charles White

Heisman Voting Results

Number of electors: 1050 - Announced: December 3, 1979.

 PlayerClassPositionSchool1st2nd3rdTotal Points
1Charles WhiteSRRBUSC453144481695
2Billy SimsSRRBOklahoma82180167773
3Marc WilsonSRQBBYU72124125589
4Art SchlichterSOQBOhio State195486251
5Vagas FergusonSRRBNotre Dame123850162
6Paul McDonaldSRQBUSC11182392
7George RogersJRRBSouth Carolina8201781
8Mark HerrmannJRQBPurdue5121554
9Ron SimmonsJRNTFlorida State581041
10Steadman ShealySRQBAlabama110932

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.


1Charles White
2Billy Sims
3Marc Wilson
4George Rogers
5Ron Simmons


1Charles White
2Billy Sims
3Marc Wilson
4Art Schlichter
5Vagas Ferguson


1Charles White
2Billy Sims
3Marc Wilson
4Art Schlichter
5George Rogers


1Charles White
2Billy Sims
3Art Schlichter
4Marc Wilson
5Vagas Ferguson


1Charles White
2Billy Sims
3Marc Wilson
4Art Schlichter
5Vagas Ferguson/Jarvis Redwine

Far West

1Charles White
2Marc Wilson
3Billy Sims
4Lorenzo White
5Art Schlichter/Jarvis Redwine


Charles White’s Heisman Year Statistics

DateOpponentResultAttYardsYPCTDRecYardsAvgTDPlaysAll-PurposeYardsYPPTotal TDs
9/8/79at Texas TechW 21-710393.900144.00011433.90
9/15/79at Oregon State (DNP)**W 42-5
9/22/79MinnesotaW 48-141015315.302144.0001115714.22
9/29/79at LSUW 17-12311855.961221.000331875.71
10/6/79Washington StateW 50-21171428.352000.000171428.42
10/13/79StanfordT 21-21322216.912000.000322216.92
10/20/79at Notre DameW 42-23442615.9343124.000472735.84
10/27/79at CaliforniaW 24-14441984.50233311.000472314.92
11/3/79ArizonaW 34-7321675.22144411.000362115.91
11/10/79at #11 WashingtonW 24-14382436.400242.000402476.20
11/24/79UCLAW 49-14351945.5444358.750392295.94
Heisman StatsAP #3, UPI #210-0-129318036.1518161388.62030919416.318
01/01/80+ #4 Ohio StateW 17-16392476.331273.500412546.21
Totals11-0-1, AP #2, UPI #233220506.1719181458.05035021956.319

(+) Neutral Site
(**) White missed entire game vs. Oregon State due to injury.