Which College Has Won the Most Heisman Trophies? The Answer Will Surprise You

Find out which college has the most Heisman Trophy winners since the award was introduced in 1935.

Which College Has Won the Most Heisman Trophies? The Answer Will Surprise You
Leah Hetteberg

Many Americans have wondered the following question: Which college has won the most Heisman Trophies? It’s a question with a very interesting answer, though also a bit anticlimactic. The Heisman Trophy — technically the Heisman Memorial Trophy — was first awarded back in 1935, when it was won by Jay Berwanger, a senior running back at the University of Chicago; to date, this is the University of Chicago’s only Heisman Trophy. Read on to find out what college has the most Heisman Trophy winners, as well as a list of Heisman Trophy winners by year, the player’s position, and their class.

What College Has the Most Heisman Trophy Winners?

BrokeScholar conducted a study of all the Heisman Trophies awarded to college players since 1935. Below you’ll find a table with a list of Heisman winners for every single year, including the notorious 2005 winner, who had to vacate it due to violating NCAA rules. Check out the full list of Heisman Trophy winners by year:

Heisman Trophy Winners by Year and College

Year

School

Player

Position

Class

1935

University of Chicago

Jay Berwanger

Running Back

Senior

1936

Yale University

Larry Kelley

Tight End

Senior

1937

Yale University

Clinton Frank

Halfback

Senior

1938

Texas Christian University

Davey O'Brien

Quarterback

Senior

1939

University of Iowa

Nile Kinnick

Running Back

Senior

1940

University of Michigan

Tom Harmon

Running Back

Senior

1941

University of Minnesota

Bruce Smith

Running Back

Senior

1942

University of Georgia

Frank Sinkwich

Running Back

Senior

1943

University of Notre Dame

Angelo Bertelli

Quarterback

Senior

1944

Ohio State University

Les Horvath

Halfback

Senior

1945

Army West Point

Felix “Doc” Blanchard

Fullback

Junior

1946

Army West Point

Glenn Davis

Running Back

Senior

1947

University of Notre Dame

John Lujack

Quarterback

Senior

1948

Southern Methodist University

Doak Walker

Running Back

Junior

1949

University of Notre Dame

Leon Hart

Tight End

Senior

1950

Ohio State University

Vic Janowicz

Running Back

Junior

1951

Princeton University

Dick Kazmaier

Running Back

Senior

1952

University of Oklahoma

Billy Vessels

Running Back

Senior

1953

University of Notre Dame

John Lattner

Running Back

Senior

1954

University of Wisconsin

Alan Ameche

Fullback

Senior

1955

Ohio State University

Howard Cassady

Running Back

Senior

1956

University of Notre Dame

Paul Hornung

Quarterback

Senior

1957

Texas A&M University

John David Crow

Running Back

Senior

1958

Army West Point

Pete Dawkins

Running Back

Senior

1959

Louisiana State University

Billy Cannon

Running Back

Senior

1960

United States Naval Academy

Joe Bellino

Running Back

Senior

1961

Syracuse University

Ernie Davis

Running Back

Senior

1962

Oregon State University

Terry Baker

Quarterback

Senior

1963

United States Naval Academy

Roger Staubach

Quarterback

Junior

1964

University of Notre Dame

John Huarte

Quarterback

Senior

1965

University of Southern California

Mike Garrett

Running Back

Senior

1966

University of Florida

Steve Spurrier

Quarterback

Senior

1967

University of California, Los Angeles

Gary Beban

Quarterback

Senior

1968

University of Southern California

O.J. Simpson

Running Back

Senior

1969

University of Oklahoma

Steve Owens

Running Back

Senior

1970

Stanford University

Jim Plunkett

Quarterback

Senior - Redshirt

1971

Auburn University

Pat Sullivan

Quarterback

Senior

1972

University of Nebraska

Johnny Rodgers

Wide Receiver

Senior

1973

Pennsylvania State University

John Cappelletti

Running Back

Senior

1974

Ohio State University

Archie Griffin

Running Back

Junior

1975

Ohio State University

Archie Griffin

Running Back

Senior

1976

University of Pittsburgh

Tony Dorsett

Running Back

Senior

1977

University of Texas

Earl Campbell

Running Back

Senior

1978

University of Oklahoma

Billy Sims

Running Back

Junior - Redshirt

1979

University of Southern California

Charles White

Running Back

Senior

1980

University of South Carolina

George Rogers

Running Back

Senior

1981

University of Southern California

Marcus Allen

Running Back

Senior

1982

University of Georgia

Herschel Walker

Running Back

Junior

1983

University of Nebraska

Mike Rozier

Running Back

Senior

1984

Boston College

Doug Flutie

Quarterback

Senior

1985

Auburn University

Bo Jackson

Running Back

Senior

1986

University of Miami

Vinny Testaverde

Quarterback

Senior - Redshirt

1987

University of Notre Dame

Tim Brown

Wide Receiver

Senior

1988

Oklahoma State University

Barry Sanders

Running Back

Junior

1989

University of Houston

Andre Ware

Quarterback

Junior

1990

Brigham Young University

Ty Detmer

Quarterback

Junior - Redshirt

1991

University of Michigan

Desmond Howard

Wide Receiver

Junior - Redshirt

1992

University of Miami

Gino Torretta

Quarterback

Senior - Redshirt

1993

Florida State University

Charlie Ward

Quarterback

Senior - Redshirt

1994

University of Colorado

Rashaan Salaam

Running Back

Junior

1995

Ohio State University

Eddie George

Running Back

Senior

1996

University of Florida

Danny Wuerffel

Quarterback

Senior - Redshirt

1997

University of Michigan

Charles Woodson

Cornerback

Junior

1998

University of Texas

Ricky Williams

Running Back

Senior

1999

University of Wisconsin

Ron Dayne

Running Back

Senior

2000

Florida State University

Chris Weinke

Quarterback

Senior

2001

University of Nebraska

Eric Crouch

Quarterback

Senior - Redshirt

2002

University of Southern California

Carson Palmer

Quarterback

Senior - Redshirt

2003

University of Oklahoma

Jason White

Quarterback

Senior - Redshirt

2004

University of Southern California

Matt Leinart

Quarterback

Junior - Redshirt

2005

University of Southern California

Reggie Bush

Running Back

Junior

2006

Ohio State University

Troy Smith

Quarterback

Senior - Redshirt

2007

University of Florida

Tim Tebow

Quarterback

Sophomore

2008

University of Oklahoma

Sam Bradford

Quarterback

Sophomore - Redshirt

2009

University of Alabama

Mark Ingram

Running Back

Sophomore

2010

Auburn University

Cam Newton

Quarterback

Junior - Redshirt

2011

Baylor University

Robert Griffin III

Quarterback

Junior - Redshirt

2012

Texas A&M University

Johnny Manziel

Quarterback

Freshman - Redshirt

2013

Florida State University

Jameis Winston

Quarterback

Freshman - Redshirt

2014

University of Oregon

Marcus Mariota

Quarterback

Junior - Redshirt

2015

University of Alabama

Derrick Henry

Running Back

Junior

2016

University of Louisville

Lamar Jackson

Quarterback

Sophomore

2017

University of Oklahoma

Baker Mayfield

Quarterback

Senior - Redshirt

2018

University of Oklahoma

Kyle Murray

Quarterback

Junior - Redshirt

2019

Louisiana State University

Joe Burrow

Quarterback

Senior - Redshirt

2020

University of Alabama

DeVonta Smith

Wide Receiver

Senior

2021

University of Alabama

Bryce Young

Quarterback

Sophomore

2022

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

So, what college has won the most Heisman Trophies? The answer is that it is a tie, and a tie with an intriguing twist. Here’s how the colleges with the most Heisman winners breaks out:

Ohio State University: 7 Heisman Trophy Winners

Ohio State Heisman winners total seven players since 1935. The most recent Ohio State Heisman Trophy winner was Troy Smith in 2006. The earliest of Ohio State Heisman winners was Les Horvath in 1944.

  • 1944: Les Horvath – Halfback – Senior

  • 1950: Vic Janowicz – Running Back - Junior

  • 1955: Howard Cassady – Running Back – Senior

  • 1974: Archie Griffin – Running Back – Junior

  • 1975: Archie Griffin – Running Back – Senior

  • 1995: Eddie George – Running Back – Senior

  • 2006: Troy Smith – Quarterback – Senior, Redshirt

University of Notre Dame: 7 Heisman Trophy Winners

Notre Dame Heisman winners also add up to seven players, with the most recent being Tim Brown in 1987. Otherwise, Notre Dame was mainly a dominant force in Heisman Trophy contention in the 1940s and 1950s.

  • 1943: Angelo Bertelli – Quarterback – Senior

  • 1947: John Lujack – Quarterback – Senior

  • 1949: Leon Hart – Tight End – Senior

  • 1953: John Lattner – Running Back – Senior

  • 1956: Paul Hornung – Quarterback – Senior

  • 1964: John Huarte – Quarterback – Senior

  • 1987: Tim Brown – Wide Receiver – Senior

University of Oklahoma: 7 Heisman Trophy Winners

The University of Oklahoma has racked up seven Heisman Trophies, the first in 1952, won by Billy Vessels. The University of Oklahoma had players receive the Heisman Trophy in consecutive years: Baker Mayfield in 2017 and Kyle Murray in 2018.

  • 1952: Billy Vessels – Running Back – Senior

  • 1969: Steve Owens – Running Back – Senior

  • 1978: Billy Sims – Running Back – Junior, Redshirt

  • 2003: Jason White – Quarterback – Senior, Redshirt

  • 2008: Sam Bradford – Quarterback – Sophomore, Redshirt

  • 2017: Baker Mayfield – Quarterback – Senior, Redshirt

  • 2018: Kyle Murray – Quarterback – Junior, Redshirt

University of Southern California: 7 Heisman Trophy Winners*

The University of Southern California, or more commonly USC, had seven players get awarded the Heisman Trophy, but the most recent one was eventually vacated — hence the asterisk. USC received its first Heisman Trophy in 1965, awarded to running back Mike Garrett. Then, in the 2000s, USC players were well represented among Heisman Trophy winners, being awarded in 2002, 2004, and 2005. However, the 2005 Heisman Trophy awarded to Reggie Bush was later retracted after it was uncovered that Reggie Bush violated NCAA rules regarding pay-for-play arrangements.

  • 1965: Mike Garrett – Running Back – Senior

  • 1968: O.J. Simpson – Running Back – Senior

  • 1979: Charles White – Running Back – Senior

  • 1981: Marcus Allen – Running Back – Senior

  • 2002: Carson Palmer – Quarterback – Senior, Redshirt

  • 2004: Matt Leinart – Quarterback – Junior, Redshirt

  • 2005: Reggie Bush – Running Back – Junior

Trends Among the List of Heisman Winners

If you’re an avid college football fan, you might be wondering how many University of Michigan Heisman winners are there? How many University of Alabama Heisman winners are there? There are so many other excellent college football programs besides the four schools that have tied with seven Heisman Trophy winners. If we discount USC’s 2005 Heisman Trophy, then that school comes in second place with six Heisman Trophies. After that, there are no colleges or universities that won five Heisman Trophies. 

The college that comes in third place with the most Heisman Trophy winners is the University of Alabama. Alabama Heisman winners total four:

  • 2009: Mark Ingram – Running Back – Sophomore

  • 2015: Derrick Henry – Running Back – Junior

  • 2020: DeVonta Smith – Wide Receiver – Senior

  • 2021: Bryce Young – Quarterback – Sophomore

After the University of Alabama, several schools tie with three Heisman Trophies being awarded to their players. Here are the six colleges and universities with three Heisman Trophy winners since 1935:

  • Army West Point: 1945, 1946, 1958

  • Auburn University: 1971, 1985, 2010

  • Florida State University: 1993, 2000, 2013

  • University of Florida: 1966, 1996, 2007

  • University of Michigan: 1940, 1991, 1997

  • University of Nebraska: 1972, 1983, 2001

One of the most important years among the list of Heisman winners is 1961: That year, Ernie Davis, a senior running back at Syracuse, became the first black player to win the Heisman Trophy. To date, this is Syracuse University’s only Heisman Trophy. Another interesting year is 1970, when the first redshirt player was awarded the Heisman Trophy: Jim Plunkett, the senior redshirt quarterback for Stanford University. This is also Stanford’s only Heisman Trophy. Since 1970, there have been 21 Heisman Trophy winners who were redshirting, for a total of 22 players who’ve received the Heisman Trophy while redshirting. 

Looking at Heisman Trophy winners by year, the position with the most Heisman Trophies is running back, with 40 since 1935. Quarterback comes in second place with 36 Heisman Trophies. And in a distant third place is wide receiver, with four Heisman Trophies.