New York, NY—A bronze trophy weighing 25 pounds and measuring 13.5 inches in height and 6.5 inches in width has been presented in each of the past 80 years to the man voted as the best college football player of the year.
The Downtown Athletic Club (DAC) made the first presentation of the trophy im 1935 to quarterback Jay Berwanger of the University of Chicago. In the following year, the trophy’s name was changed to the Heisman Memorial trophy to honor john W. Heisman, a legendary college football coach and the athletic director of the DAC, who died in 1936.
The three candidates invited to New York City for the weekend Heisman events were wide receiver Amari Cooper of Alabama, running back Melvin Gordon and quarterback Marcus Mariota of Oregon. Each of the three juniors has been acknowledged as the best in college football at his respective position this year and each has been voted as the Offensive Player of the Year in his respective conference.
The first two offensive juggernauts, Copper and Gordon, arrived in the city for press conferences on Friday afternoon. Cooper distanced himself from the other college wide receivers this year by grabbing a nation high 115 passes for a total of 1,656 yards and 14 touchdowns. He was chosen the SEC Offensive Player of the Year.
He remarked, “Not too many wide receivers get here. It’s quite an honor.” His words were historically correct as the last receiver to win the Heisman was Desmond Howard in 1991. Cooper who competed in track was reluctant to play football. He explained to reporters on Friday, “I didn’t want to play football at first. They hit.” He still doesn’t like the contact, but has overcome the aversion enough to achieve great success. His coach Nick Saben commented, “He’s the type of person that everybody tries to emulate.”
Gordon, the leading running back in the nation, was #1 in the college ranks in yards gained rushing with 2,336 and in touchdowns with 26. In addition to his 309 rushing attempts, the Wisconsin native snagged 17 passes for 151 yards and three touchdowns. He was selected as Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year.
During Friday’s interview, the personable and good humored student-athlete talked of his desire to enter the 2015 NFL Draft, “It was a special year. I played pretty well. The NFL Draft is crazy. You don’t know what will happen. Last year, I didn’t think I was ready. I’m more confident. I feel like a more complete player.” It would not be a surprise if the other two Heisman finalists join him in the upcoming NFL Draft.
As the football season’s approaches its conclusion, Mariota, the quarterback was the big favorite. The award usually goes to the glamour position on the gridiron. Since 2000, a quarterback has received the Heisman Trophy every year except two. The native of Hawaii gained 3,783 yards in the air and his receivers scored 38 touchdowns, yet he was only intercepted twice. Carrying the football, Mariota rushed for 669 yards and scored 14 touchdowns. The quarterback gained many honors this season prior to his winning the Heisman. He won the PAC-12 Offensive Player of the Year, Davey O’ Brien, Walter Camp and Maxwell Awards.
Mariota won a landslide victory to gain the Heisman. He is second in achieving the highest percentage of possible points, 90.92%, to Troy Smith of Ohio State in 2006 with 91.63 %. He was named on 95.16 % of the ballots, a new record high. Mariota is the first native of Hawaii, the first of Samoan descent, and the first player on the Oregon Ducks to win the Heisman.
The Heisman winner was overcome with emotion while giving a speech of gratitude after receiving the award. “Where I am today is due to all those people. I got emotional because of the hard work of those people. I’m just so thankful for so many people.”
After Mariota is honored at the Heisman dinner in Manhattan on Monday night, his next task will be to lead the Oregon Ducks in the in the BCS semi-final against the 2013 Heisman winner, Jameis Winston, and the Florida State University Seminoles.