The first winner to receive what was then called the Downtown Athletic Club's Trophy to the Outstanding College Football Player East of the Mississippi River, Berwanger was informed by telegraph that he'd won. Unsure what to do with the award, he gave it to an aunt, who famously used it as a doorstop for years.
2 of 10AP
While he wasn't strictly an offensive lineman -- Kelley caught 15 touchdowns in his career -- he's noted as the first blocker to win the award. He would later be joined by the second and last lineman, Notre Dame's Leon Hart (also a noted pass-catcher), who won in 1949.
3 of 10AP
Felix "Doc" Blanchard
Blanchard was the first fullback to claim the stiff-armed trophy. Along with "Mr. Outside" Glenn Davis, "Mr. Inside" formed Army's vaunted backfield, a matinee idol tandem that appeared on the cover of Time magazine.
4 of 10John G. Zimmerman/SI
The Irish's Golden Boy may have led the team in rushing, passing, scoring, kickoff returns, punt returns, punting and passes broken up, but one of his biggest distinctions is standing as the first and only player from a losing team (2-8) to win the award.
5 of 10Courtesy of Syracuse University Athletics
In the same year when Freedom Riders braved bus rides through the South to test integration, Davis made history of his own by becoming the first black player to enter the Heisman fraternity.
6 of 10George Long/LPI/WireImage.com
The only Latino winner, Plunkett threw for 2,715 yards and 18 touchdowns in what was dubbed the Year of the Quarterback, beating out Joe Theismann and Archie Manning.
7 of 10Walter Iooss Jr./SI
Griffin stands as the only player to win the award twice. Ten players have tried to equal his feat, with Oklahoma's Billy Sims coming the closest, finishing second in 1979.
8 of 10Andy Hayt/SI
In the years after Hart became the last lineman to win in 1949, the award was dominated by running backs and quarterbacks, with 27 rushers and 10 passers winning. Brown broke the trend by becoming the first wideout to win.
9 of 10Damian Strohmeyer/SI
The first defensive player to win, Woodson's exploits weren't limited to his cornerback position, where he had eight interceptions. He also played receiver and punt returner in beating out runner-up Peyton Manning.
10 of 10John Biever/SI
The award had been reserved for upperclassmen until the Gators' record-breaking QB put up numbers that couldn't be ignored, regardless of age. In the season in which he became the first player to ever throw 20 TDs and run for 20 more, he also became the first sophomore winner.
You May Like
More College Football
Sign Up for our Newsletter
Don't get stuck on the sidelines! Sign up to get exclusives, daily highlights, analysis and more—delivered right to your inbox!