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December 13, 2018

On this particular date, six college football athletes were awarded the prestigious Heisman Trophy award.

Charles Woodson

In 1997, University of Michigan standout Charles Woodson became the first player to win college football's top award while playing significant time on offense and defense since the play style of the game changed in the 1960s. He also became the only primarily defensive player to win the Heisman Trophy award.

After winning Ohio's Player of the Year in high school, Woodson committed to the Michigan Wolverines. Woodson was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year and first-team all conference.

Aiming to add some firepower to their offense, University of Michigan head coach Lloyd Carr asked Woodson if he'd be interested in playing on offense as well as maintaining his role as a cornerback. Woodson would set a school record for pass breakups (15) and put up over 300 yards from scrimmage on offense. The Michigan Wolverines star would named as an AP First Team All-American and was a finalist the Jim Thorpe award, college football's award for the nation's top defensive back.

His junior season would see Woodson continue to put up offensive statistics while playing at an elite level on defense. Due to his outstanding play combined with the Michigan Wolverines going undefeated through the season, Woodson would win the Heisman Trophy award. Woodson would also win 

After a heralded career for the Michigan Wolverines, Woodson would be drafted fourth overall by the Oakland Raiders in the 1998 NFL Draft. He wound up winning the 1998 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year award before going on to named to 9 Pro Bowls (4 as a First-Team All-Pro), NFL Defensive Player of the Year (2009) and a Super Bowl with the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XLV.

Ron Dayne

At 270 pounds in high school, Ron Dayne earned every bit of the moniker "The Dayne Train" after averaging over 10 yards per carry. While many schools considered moving Dayne to fullback, the Wisconsin Badgers gave him the opportunity to be a running back.

At the Univeristy of Wisconsin, Dayne would carry the ball over 1,200 times over the course of his college football career. He'd become only the fifth player in college football history to rush for over 1,000 yards in four consecutive years. 

Becoming an unstoppable force on the football field, Dayne would eventually set a Division I (now FBS) record for career rushing yards. His mark would eventually be broken by San Diego State's Donnel Pumphrey but if you factor Dayne's yardage from bowl games, "The Dayne Train" is ahead of Pumphrey.

In his final season with the Wisconsin Badgers, Dayne rushed for over 2,000 yards and took home numerous awards, including the Heisman Trophy. He helped Wisconsin win back-to-back  Rose Bowls along with becoming only the third player to win consecutive Rose Bowl MVP.

After being drafted 11th overall by the New York Giants in the 2000 NFL Draft, Dayne would become half of the "Thunder and Lightning" duo with teammate Tiki Barber. The two running backs would help carry the Giants to Super Bowl XXXV. Dayne's role with the Giants would slowly diminish over the next few years before signing with the Denver Broncos and eventually, the Houston Texans.

Dayne would score 5 touchdowns and rush for nearly 430 yards in 2007, which would become his final NFL season.

Jason White

Jason White’s career at the University of Oklahoma can be considered one of the true ultimate underdog stories.

White injured his ankle and was redshirted his freshman season for the Oklahoma Sooners. He would return in 2000 as the Sooners backup QB but didn’t attempt a pass the entire season. The next season, White would again find himself on the bench but managed to see game action after the team’s starting quarterback, Nate Hybl, was injured in a game against the rival Texas Longhorns. White performed well but would be sidelined by an ACL tear after starting three games.

Finally named the team’s starting quarterback, White would tear the ACL in his other knee in the team’s second game of the year against the Alabama Crimson Tide. Two major knee surgeries seemed to put White’s college football career in jeopardy heading into the 2003 college football season.

However, White’s determination and willpower propelled him to have an amazing season for the Sooners. White threw for over 3,700 yards and had 40 touchdowns. White would take home the Associated Press Player of the Year award, the Davey O’Brien Award (best QB) and the Heisman Trophy.

In a stunning move, White was granted an extra year of eligibility by the NCAA due to his major injuries and threw for over 3,200 yards with 45 touchdowns. White ended his collegiate career holding the Oklahoma Sooners’ records for career passing yards (8,012) and touchdown passes (81).

White was not drafted and struggled to get a look in the NFL. He would eventually get signed by the Tennessee Titans but decided to step away from the game of football.

Cam Newton

Cam Newton’s journey to Heisman Trophy winner was filled with multiple ups and downs but the star quarterback would eventually set the college football world on fire in 2010.

Prior to joining the Auburn Tigers, Newton’s college football career initially began at the University of Florida. Newton served as Tim Tebow’s backup in 2007, appearing in five games for the Florida Gators. Newton would appear in the Gators’ 2008 season opener but would hurt his ankle and accept a medical redshirt, effectively ending his season. Newton would get into some trouble off the field and eventually left the University of Florida. Newton would transfer to Blinn College and lead the team to the 2009 NJCAA National Football Championship, putting up over 2,800 yards (22 TDs) and rushing for over 650 yards. After the season, Newton was anxious to get back into the world of Division I football.

He would do so at Auburn University in 2010, exploding onto the college football scene. During the 2010 season, Newton would throw for over 2,500 yards with 28 touchdowns and added over 1,400 rushing yards along with 20 rushing touchdowns as the Auburn Tigers steamrolled their way to the BCS championship.

Newton would win the 2010 SEC Offensive Player of the Year and 2010 AP Player of the Year along with winning the Heisman Trophy in a landslide.

The Auburn Tigers star would be selected with the first overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft by the Carolina Panthers. In his rookie season, Newton would win the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award and was named to his first Pro Bowl. Newton has become one of the league’s top quarterbacks during his time with the Carolina Panthers, throwing for 182 touchdowns and rushing for another 58 scores. Newton’s dual-threat attack would earn him NFL MVP honors in the 2015 NFL season, the same season he would take the Panthers to Super Bowl 50.

Marcus Mariota

There were a lot of firsts for Marcus Mariota’s Heisman season in 2014. Mariota became the first Oregon Ducks, first Polynesian and first player from Hawaii to win the Heisman Trophy.

Mariota didn’t have the opportunity to shine in high school until his senior season but lead St. Louis High School to a state title. Mariota was considered the No. 2 player in Hawaii but received just two FBS football scholarships.

Mariota was redshirted his freshman year but became the first freshman to start for the Ducks in over 20 seasons. He would lead the Oregon Ducks to a 12-1 record in 2011 and an 11-2 while earning First-Team All-Pac-12 honors in each year.

In 2014, Mariota would throw for nearly 3,800 yards and 38 touchdowns while throwing jus two interceptions. He added another 669 rushing yards and 14 rushing touchdowns.  His stellar season propelled the Oregon Ducks to the College Football Playoffs where the team would blow out Jameis Winston and the Florida State Seminoles in the semi-final game. The Ducks would go on to lose to the Ohio State Buckeyes in the National Championship game.

Mariota would forego his senior season and enter the 2015 NFL draft where he was selected second overall by the Tennessee Titans. Thus far into his young NFL career, Mariota has showed flashes of greatness but has struggled with injuries and consistency at times.

Derrick Henry

In an age of spread offenses and high-powered passing attacks, Derrick Henry showed that a strong running game still has a place in today’s game.

After breaking state records at Yulee High School in Yulee, FL, Henry decided to join the emerging college football powerhouse Alabama Crimson Tide. At 6’3 and 240-plus pounds, Henry was an imposing figure in the backfield. However, the talent level for the Crimson Tide was so strong that Henry struggled to get snaps on the field. Still, he produced at an elite level right away as Henry rushed for 382 yards and 3 touchdowns on just 35 carries in his freshman year. That includes 100 yards on just 8 carries in ‘Bama’s Cotton Bowl game against the Oklahoma Sooners.

Henry split time with T.J. Yeldon in his sophomore season but still managed nearly 1,000 yards and found the endzone 11 times. Henry would finally find an opportunity to be the feature back for the Crimson Tide in his junior season, carrying the rock a nation-leading 339 times. Henry also broke the SEC single-season rushing yards record as he compiled 1,986 yards on the ground. Playing in arguably the nation’s toughest conference, Henry would become only the third running back in SEC history to have four 200-yard games in a single season.

Henry’s success combined with the Alabama Crimson Tide heading to another National Championship game helped garner support from voters as Henry took home the 2015 Heisman Trophy award.

The former Alabama Crimson Tide star was selected in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft by the Tennessee Titans.  Thus far into his NFL career, the Titans have used the RB by committee approach, pairing Henry first with DeMarco Murray and now with Dion Lewis. Henry recently broke the Titans franchise record for rushing yards in a game by rushing for 238 yards and 4 touchdowns against the division rival Jacksonville Jaguars.


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