The almost two-time (and three-time) Heisman winners

To date, only one player — Ohio State’s Archie Griffin — has been able to win two Heismans. Given the long and storied history of the most prestigious individual award in sports, it remains an extraordinary accomplishment.

But for a few twists and turns, however, Griffin would not be alone. Indeed, several Heisman winners came very close to winning that second trophy and, remarkably, there are even some non-Heisman winners who came very close to winning the award twice.

Probably the best way to gauge the proximity of a player to winning a Heisman is by calculating the points gap between that player and the overall winner of the Heisman vote. We went through the history of the Heisman vote and here’s what we found:

Heisman winners who came closest to winning 2 Heismans (based on points accumulated in the Heisman vote)

There’s a good reason Glenn Davis of Army — known as “Mr. Outside” in his day — is on the short list of all-time greatest college football players. As a 1944 sophomore, he finished just 125 points behind Les Horvath of Ohio State in the Heisman vote. The next year, he finished 222 points behind his teammate, Doc Blanchard (known as “Mr. Inside”), before finally capturing the trophy as a 1946 senior.


NameYear(s)Points from winning 2nd Heisman
1Glenn Davis1944125
2Tim Tebow1988151
3Felix Doc Blanchard1944175
4Clinton Frank1936180
5Angelo Bertelli1941209
6TTom Harmon1939246
6TO.J. Simpson1967246
8Howard Cassady1954258
9John Lattner1952272
10John Lujack1946413
11Billy Cannon1958419
12Herschel Walker1980445
13TCharles White1978473
13TDanny Wuerffel1995473
15Doak Walker1947546
16Steve Spurrier1965833
17Billy Sims1979922


The non-Heisman winners who came closes to winning two Heismans (based on points accumulated in the Heisman vote)

This list is a reminder of how fine a line there is between attaining college football immortality and your typical ‘legendary’ status. In the years 1952 and 1953, Paul Giel of Minnesota was a combined 252 points away from winning two Heisman Trophies. In 2008-2009, Colt McCoy of Texas came a measley 310 points from winning two award. That’s far closer than most Heisman winners ever finished. And yet both players walked away with no Heisman.


PlayerTeamYearsPoints from winning 2 Heismans
1Paul GielMinnesota1952-53252
2Colt McCoyTexas2008-09310
3Ken DorseyMiami (FL)2001-02817
4Greg PruittOklahoma1971-72930
5Charlie JusticeNorth Carolina1948-491,058
6Troy DavisIowa State1995-961,247
7DeShaun WatsonClemson2015-161,287
8Andrew LuckStanford2010-20111,464


Closest to winning 3 Heismans (based on points accumulated in the Heisman vote)

The legendary Beano Cook once famously predicted that a certain Notre Dame quarterback would win three Heismans. It’s a feat that seems as unlikely now as it did when Cook predicted it. But the history of the vote reveals that a few players actually had a legitimate shot at three trophies (perhaps Cook knew a thing or two about Heisman history). Not surprisingly, Davis and Blanchard of Army are on that list, as well as Griffin, Herschel Walker and Tim Tebow.


NameYearsPoints from winning 3 Heismans
1Glenn Davis1944, 1945347
2Felix Doc Blanchard1944, 1946700
3Archie Griffin1973731
4Herschel Walker1980, 19811,043
5Tim Tebow2008, 20091,065
6Angelo Bertelli1941, 19421,093
7Doak Walker1947, 19491,312