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.

 

Name Year(s) Points from winning 2nd Heisman
1 Glenn Davis 1944 125
2 Tim Tebow 1988 151
3 Felix Doc Blanchard 1944 175
4 Clinton Frank 1936 180
5 Angelo Bertelli 1941 209
6T Tom Harmon 1939 246
6T O.J. Simpson 1967 246
8 Howard Cassady 1954 258
9 John Lattner 1952 272
10 John Lujack 1946 413
11 Billy Cannon 1958 419
12 Herschel Walker 1980 445
13T Charles White 1978 473
13T Danny Wuerffel 1995 473
15 Doak Walker 1947 546
16 Steve Spurrier 1965 833
17 Billy Sims 1979 922

 

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.

 

Player Team Years Points from winning 2 Heismans
1 Paul Giel Minnesota 1952-53 252
2 Colt McCoy Texas 2008-09 310
3 Ken Dorsey Miami (FL) 2001-02 817
4 Greg Pruitt Oklahoma 1971-72 930
5 Charlie Justice North Carolina 1948-49 1,058
6 Troy Davis Iowa State 1995-96 1,247
7 DeShaun Watson Clemson 2015-16 1,287
8 Andrew Luck Stanford 2010-2011 1,464

 

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.

 

Name Years Points from winning 3 Heismans
1 Glenn Davis 1944, 1945 347
2 Felix Doc Blanchard 1944, 1946 700
3 Archie Griffin 1973 731
4 Herschel Walker 1980, 1981 1,043
5 Tim Tebow 2008, 2009 1,065
6 Angelo Bertelli 1941, 1942 1,093
7 Doak Walker 1947, 1949 1,312