Have Recent Heisman Winners Avoided The Heisman Curse?

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Recent Heisman Winners: Where Are They Now?

College Football
Jerry Lai-USA TODAY SPORTS

The 78th Heisman winner will be announced Saturday and it will either be Johnny Manziel, Manti Te’o or Collin Klein.

The two favorites however are Texas A&M’s redshirt freshman Manziel and Notre Dame’s middle linebacker Te’o and if one of the two capture the bronze stiff-armed statue, then history will be made at the Downtown Athletic Club in New York. A freshman has never won the most prestigious individual honor in college football and neither has a pure defensive player, but that will all chance with Saturday’s announcement.

But should any of the finalists be hoping they don’t win the award?

Winning the Heisman has not been a guarantee that future greatness is in store. In fact winning the Heisman trophy used to be a death sentence in recent years as far as your NFL career was concerned and the dreaded Heisman curse plagued a number of past winners from Andre Ware to Rashaan Salaam to Eric Crouch who were all colossal flops at the next level.

That curse led me to investigate the past five winners of the award and chronicle their Heisman season and evaluate what they have done thus far in the NFL and see if the Heisman curse is still in effect, or if the curse talk can be put to bed. From 2007-2012, four of the Heisman winners were quarterbacks and three hailed from the SEC with the other two coming from the Big 12 conference.

For some the jury is still out whether they avoided the Heisman curse or not, but leave me your comments below and let me know who you think is cursed and who has avoided that label so far in their NFL career.

Follow me on Twitter @PatrickASchmidt.

Patrick is a diehard Chicago sports and an avid college football fan, and the host of “The Wake-up Call,” a weekly sports show on Sportstownchicago.com airing live on Wednesday mornings from 8-10. View his show’s website here.

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Florida QB Tim Tebow

College Football
Derick Hingle-USA TODAY SPORTS

One of the best college football players of all time, Tebow became the first sophomore to win the award after he totaled 55 touchdowns--32 passing, 23 rushing--and set an SEC record for total offense with 4,181 yards. Tebow would win two national championships at Florida and finished in the top of Heisman voting three times. He is the conference’s career leader in completion percentage, rushing touchdowns and pass efficiency rating.

Tebow was a No. 1 pick by the Denver Broncos following his senior season at Florida to the chagrin of many Broncos fans and to the surprise of many observers who questioned whether he was worthy of being selected that high. He would only start three games a rookie, but would emerge in his second season after Kyle Orton was benched and became a polarizing figure due to his religious beliefs and unorthodox style behind center. However, he did have a penchant for the dramatic and had a number of fourth quarter comebacks using his feet and arm to lead the Broncos to the playoffs and a first round victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers.

In the offseason, the Broncos signed Peyton Manning as a free agent and John Elway looked for a taker to unload Tebow upon and the New York Jets traded for the former Heisman winner to be their backup quarterback/fullback/tight end/punt protector. Tebow has attempted just seven passes while appearing in 10 games and has yet to make an impact on this team despite the struggles of starting quarterback Mark Sanchez. Tebow likely will be on his third team in as many years following the 2012 season.

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Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford

College Football
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The fifth Oklahoma Sooner to win the award and the second to win it under Bob Stoops when Bradford led the nation in quarterback rating for the second straight year and also led with 50 passing touchdowns to only eight interceptions. His Sooners squad would go on to capture the Big 12 conference title and appear in the BCS National Championship Game, losing to Florida and Tebow, who finished third in the Heisman voting that year.

Bradford would return for his junior season despite being a top pick and suffered two shoulder injuries in his last season at Norman, but was still the No. 1 pick in the draft by the St. Louis Rams. His rookie year was good enough to garner AP Offensive Rookie of the Year award when he threw for more than 3,500 yards and 18 touchdowns. He had his team one win away from taking the Rams to the playoffs. His second year was mired with injury, but his third year he has been able to remain healthy and is in position to set career-highs in virtually every passing category.

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Alabama RB Mark Ingram

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Ingram became the first Alabama player to win the Heisman trophy and he did so in the closest vote in Heisman history edging out Toby Gerhart and Colt McCoy. As a sophomore, Ingram rushed for 1,542 yards and 15 touchdowns while adding 322 yards and three touchdowns receiving en route to a national championship.

The former Crimson Tide back was drafted 28th by the New Orleans Saints after they traded up in the draft with the hopes of Ingram being a feature back to complement Drew Brees and the high-octane passing offense. However, Ingram has struggled with nagging injuries in his first two seasons and hasn’t been able to separate himself from other Saints backs and has been sharing carries among a deep group of running backs.

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Auburn QB Cam Newton

College Football
Richard Mackson-USA TODAY SPORTS

Newton was a dynamo in his one year at Auburn after transferring from Blinn Community College after starting his career with Tebow at Florida, going 14-0 and winning the national title in addition to the Heisman. He established a new SEC record for total offense, breaking the record held by Tebow in his Heisman season. He threw for more than 2,500 yards, rushed for more than 1,400 and had 49 total touchdowns.

The Carolina Panthers made Newton the No.1 pick in the draft and threw for more than 400 yards in his first two games--a feat never accomplished in the history of the NFL. Newton would also break the record for rushing touchdowns held by Steve Grogan and finished with 14 trips to the end zone. He has experienced a bit of a sophomore slump in 2012, but has flashed some of the brilliance that made him the Rookie of the Year in 2011.

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Bayor QB Robert Griffin III

College Football
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The first Baylor Bear to win the Heisman trophy and he did so with a number of Heisman moments that started with a dazzling comeback win over TCU in the season opener and the school’s first win over Oklahoma en route to a nine-win regular season. Griffin led the nation in quarterback rating and had a 36:6 TD-to-interception ratio. He was a dynamic playmaker with his feet as well using his world class track speed to rush for 644 yards and nine more touchdowns.

Griffin was the No. 2 overall pick in the NFL draft by the Washington Redskins and has shown no signs of growing pains as a rookie. He has already eclipsed the rookie rushing yards by a quarterback mark set by Newton last season and is already one of the league’s best quarterback and has the Redskins flirting with a division title.

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