What’s the Heisman Trophy?

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The Heisman Memorial Trophy is an annual award presented to the best US college football player. It is voted for by a national panel of sportswriters and former winners. The trophy is a 25-pound bronze statuette of a football player, and the winner is determined by a point system. The ceremony takes place in New York City and is televised. The first winner was Jay Berwanger in 1935, and most winners have been seniors or juniors. The 2005 trophy was left vacant due to a rule violation.

The Heisman Memorial Trophy is an award presented annually to the outstanding United States college football player. Usually referred to as the Heisman Trophy or simply Heisman, this award is voted for primarily by a national panel of sportswriters and former Heisman winners. The Heisman Trophy was created by the Downtown Athletic Club (DAC) of New York in 1935, when it was known as the DAC Trophy. The award was renamed in 1936 after the death of DAC director of athletics, famed former coach and player John W. Heisman. It is awarded every December by the Heisman Trophy Trust.

Bronze statuette

The trophy itself is a 25-pound (11.3 kg) bronze statuette of a football player in an action pose. The player is in an athletic stance, with the right leg swinging forward, a soccer ball firmly tucked in the crook of the left arm, and the right hand extended forward in a “stiff arm” position. Frank Eliscu, a sculptor, chose New York University soccer star Ed Smith as the model for the statuette, but the player on the trophy is expected to be anonymous.

Voting process

Under the voting process used in the late 20th century and early 21st century, more than 20 votes are cast for the Heisman Trophy each year. This includes votes cast by more than 21 journalists from each of six U.S. regions as well as living former Heisman laureates. In some years, a ballot is cast on behalf of the fans who voted in a national poll. Ballots must be submitted by a specific date in early December, usually a few days before the trophy is presented to the winner.

Voters fill out the ballot by naming their top three choices, in order. The grade is tabulated using a point system. A player receives three points for being named as a first choice, two for being a second choice and one for being a third choice. The winner is the player with the most points.

From 1935 to 2000, the Heisman Trophy was presented to the Downtown Athletic Club. After the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center, which was located just a few blocks away, the DAC closed and never reopened. The ceremony has since taken place at various venues in New York City.

The top few nominees, as determined by the first ballots, are invited to attend the ceremony. Many former Heisman winners also participate. The winner is revealed and the trophy presented in a televised ceremony that typically lasts an hour.
The first Heisman Trophy — called the DAC Trophy at the time — was awarded to University of Chicago running back Jay Berwanger in 1935. All winners played what are considered “skill” positions on offense: quarterback, running back, wide receiver and tight end — with the most common positions of Heisman winners being quarterback and running back. The 1997 winner, University of Michigan cornerback Charles Woodson, is credited with being the first defensive back to win the award, but he also occasionally played wide receiver on offense and returned kicks.
Most winners have been seniors or juniors. The first sophomore to win it was University of Florida quarterback Tim Tebow in 2007. As of 2011, no freshman had won the Heisman, and only one player had won it twice: the Ohio State running back Archie Griffin in 1974 and 1975.

The 2005 Heisman Trophy was left vacant in 2010 after it was determined that the winner, University of Southern California running back Reggie Bush, had violated National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) rules by receiving improper gifts while a student . The Heisman Trust chose to accept the 2005 award rather than present it to Vince Young, who finished a distant second in that year’s voting when he was a quarterback at the University of Texas.

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