The Heisman Trophy depicts a football player running with the ball and stiff-arming an apparent tackler. For almost all this century, however, the statue should have shown a player passing the ball.
Since 2000, the Heisman has been won 13 times by quarterbacks. Additionally, 32 of a possible 45 top-three finishers were quarterbacks.
This season could be the exception. Five running backs and three quarterbacks are among those selected in this week’s USA TODAY Sports Heisman Trophy survey.
LSU’s Leonard Fournette, who leads the Football Bowl Subdivision in total rushing yards (1,202) and yards a game (200.3), continues to hold a commanding lead with 27 of 30 first-place nods from reporters and editors with Heisman votes who work for properties owned by Gannett, USA TODAY’s parent company.
TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin, second in total offense, third in passing efficiency and fourth in passing yards, is a solid second, but running backs are among the next four in points, including Florida State’s Dalvin Cook.
He is second to Fournette in rushing yards a game at 159.2 and makes the biggest leap this week after rushing for 163 yards and two touchdowns in Saturday’s 41-21 victory against Louisville.
Alabama running back Derrick Henry returns to the rankings this week. Though not in the top five in rushing yards or yards per game, he piled up 236 yards and two touchdowns Saturday in the Crimson Tide’s 41-23 win at Texas A&M.
This week’s list does not even include Georgia’s Nick Chubb, who was among the preseason favorites before suffering a knee injury.
The last running back to win the Heisman was Alabama’s Mark Ingram in 2009. Southern California running back Reggie Bush won in 2005 but later returned the trophy after an NCAA infractions scandal. The official Heisman website does not list a 2005 winner.
A running back been among the top three 10 times since 2000.
Contributing: Alec J Neuharth-Keusch