Pennsylvania State University

John Cappelletti won Penn State's first Heisman by helping the Nittany Lions to a perfect 12-0 season and No. 5 ranking in both of the major polls.

Heisman Winner

John Cappelletti

RB | Senior | Pennsylvania State University

Cappelletti won Penn State’s first Heisman by helping the Nittany Lions to a perfect 12-0 season and No. 5 ranking in both of the major polls.

Cappelletti was born in Upper Darby, Penn., where he attended and played football for Monsignor Bonner High School. In 1969, he was selected first team All-Catholic and All-Delaware County. He signed with Penn State in 1970.

He played defensive back as a freshman and sophomore, but quickly showed his flair as a playmaker upon being switched to running back as a junior. He rushed for 1,117 yards and 12 touchdowns in 1972 as the Lions finished 10-2 and ranked 10th in the nation.

In 1973, Cappelletti was a consensus All-American, rushing for 1,522 yards and 17 touchdowns. This total is fourth on the school season rushing list to Larry Johnson (2,087), Lydell Mitchell (1,567) and Ki- Jana Carter (1,539). He put together three straight 200-yard rushing games in the final month of the season, including a high of 220 against North Carolina State, on his way to winning the Heisman. His acceptance speech at the Heisman Dinner (with Vice President Gerald Ford next to him on the dais) was considered the most moving ever given at these ceremonies, as he honored his brother, Joey, a victim of leukemia.

Cappelletti also received the Maxwell Trophy and was selected as Player-of-the-Year by ABC-TV, United Press International, the Philadelphia Sports Writers Association, the Walter Camp Foundation and the Washington Touchdown Club.

A first-round draft choice of the National Football League Los Angeles Rams in the 1974 draft (11th pick overall), Cappelletti played 10 seasons in the professional ranks, six in Los Angeles and four with the San Diego Chargers.

Cappelletti was inducted into the National Football Foundation College Football Hall of Fame in 1993.

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Heisman Voting Results

Number of electors: 1075 - Announced: December 4, 1973.

 PlayerClassPositionSchool1st2nd3rdTotal Points
1John CappellettiSRRBPenn State229142861057
2John HicksSROTOhio State1146454524
3Roosevelt LeaksJRRBTexas7480100482
4David JaynesSRQBKansas656863394
5Archie GriffinSORBOhio State456365326
6Randy GradisharSRLBOhio State475335282
7Lucious SelmonSRNGOklahoma395229250
8Woody GreenSRRBArizona State315544247
9Danny WhiteSRQBArizona State322226166
10Kermit JohnsonSRRBUCLA241520122

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

At this time, Heisman voters are spread out across five regions.


1John Cappelletti
2Roosevelt Leaks
3David Jaynes
4John Hicks
5Condredge Holloway


1John Cappelletti
2John Hicks
3Roosevelt Leaks
4Tony Dorsett
5Archie Griffin


1John Hicks
2David Jaynes
3John Cappelletti
4Archie Griffin
5Randy Gradishar


1Roosevelt Leaks
2Danny White
3Woody Green
4Lucious Selmon
5John Cappelletti

Far West

1John Cappelletti
2Kermit Johnson
3Lynn Swann
4Woody Green
5Danny White


Game-by-game statistics for John Cappalletti’s 1973 season are unavailable at this time.Here are his Heisman season totals for 1973:

DateRankingRecordRush AttYdsAvgTDsRecYdsAvg.TDsPlaysAPYYPPTotal TDs
Heisman StatsAP #611-02861,5225.321766911.50029215915.4417
1/1/74+ #13 LSUW 16-950101
TotalsAP #512-01,5721818

Cappalletti was also 1 of 2 passing for 17 yards.