2001 Heisman winning quarterback Eric Crouch saw action with Toronto in 2006.
There is a great deal of acclaim reserved for the Heisman Trophy as the top player in American College Football. Also it has been proven on a number of occasions that winning the Heisman does not automatically ensure success in the professional ranks. Regardless of success or failure the sporting world will always take a keen interest in the paths former winners take as professionals. The Canadian Football League has had a significant role in the career of a number of winners and an even greater number of runner-ups.
1998 - Ricky Williams - Texas - Toronto Argonauts
1989 – Andre Ware – University of Houston – Ottawa, B.C., Toronto
2001 - Eric Crouch - Nebraska - Toronto Argonauts
Eric was an All-American at Nebraska running the wish-bone offence. Crouch played under offensive co-ordinator Turner Gill at Nebraska who had spent 2 season with the Montreal Concordes. Crouch won the 2001 Heisman but pro coaches questioned his arm strength and size to make it as a pro quarterback. Crouch was drafted by the St.Louis Rams but went to camp as a wide receiver. He failed to make a lasting impression as a receiver and left the club. Crouch joined Green Bay in 2003 hoping to try-out as a quarterback, he failed to make the team and retired due to nagging injuries. He returned to pro football in 2005 with Kansas City as a safety and was allocated to NFL Europe he played for the Hamburg Sea Devils as a safety. In 2006 he signed with the Toronto Argonauts with the opportunity to play quarterback. He saw limited action in 1 game in 2006. Crouch was released by Toronto prior to the 2008 season.
1998 - Ricky Williams - Texas - Toronto Argonauts
Ricky was an outstanding collegiate athlete. Over 4 seasons with Texas he rushed for 6,279 yards. In his senior season he rushed for a then record 2,099 yards and 24 touchdowns. He was the consensus Heisman winner over Michael Bishop of Kansas who spent time with the Toronto Argonauts. Ricky spent 3 seasons with the New Orleans Saints before moving to the Miami Dolphins where he led the league in rushing in 2001. Following numerous drug offences Ricky did not report for the 2004 season. He did return in 2005 and following a suspension for the 2006-07 season he signed a contract with the Toronto Argonauts. Ricky spent 1 un-spectacular season in Double Blue, injuries limited his effectiveness but he showed flashes of his immense talent. In 2008 Williams was back with the Miami Dolphins splitting carries with Ronnie Brown.
1989 - Andre Ware- University of Houston - Ottawa Toronto B.C.
In his junior season at Houston, Ware set major college records by throwing for 4,699 yards and 46 TDs, leading the Cougars to a 9-2 record. He declared for the NFL draft, forgoing his senior year, confident that he had impressed NFL scouts. After one pre-draft workout, a scout declared, "Gentlemen, we are looking at the next great quarterback in the National Football League." 'Twasn't to be. The Lions picked Ware in the first round of the 1990 draft, and gave him a $1 million signing bonus. But Ware rarely got off the bench in his four NFL seasons with Detroit and Minnesota. Ware's career totals: 83 completions in 161 attempts for 1,112 yards and five touchdowns. When Ware signed with the CFL's Ottawa Rough Riders in 1995, his former coach at Houston, Jack Pardee, said, "Andre is going to be great in this league." Wrong. Ware's short, three-team CFL career ended in 1997, when he had the honor of watching from the bench as Doug Flutie led the Toronto Argonauts to a Grey Cup victory. courtesy ESPN - Biggest Heisman Flops
1984 - Doug Flutie - Boston College - B.C. Calgary Toronto
Doug Flutie won the 1984 Heisman with Boston College. He graduated as the career passing leader in NCAA history (since eclipsed). His outstanding collegiate career was punctuated by what many consider the greatest moment in college sports, his Hail Mary winning touchdown pass over Miami at the Orange Bowl the day after Thanksgiving. Flutie was a celebrity, he joined the fledgling USFL and was looked to as the leagues saviour signing with Donald Trump's New Jersey Generals. Upon the collapse of the USFL, Flutie spent time as a replacement player with the Chicago Bears and then with the New England Patriots. In 1990 at the age of 28 he contemplated retirement having run out of NFL options. His next decision turned around his career and changed Canadian Football forever. Flutie joined the B.C.Lions in 1990 and over 8 seasons with B.C., Calgary and Toronto he captured 6 Most Outstanding Player awards and 3 Grey Cups. He returned to the NFL in 1998 But had his greatest success and most fun dominating the CFL in the 1990's.
1972 - Johnny Rodgers - Nebraska - Montreal Alouettes
biggest thing for Rodgers coming out of Nebraska in 1973 as a Heisman
winner was to make a 6 figure salary. Johnny had electrified the nation
with his receiving and kick returning exploits with the Cornhuskers. San
Diego drafted the flashy
1962 - Terry Baker - Oregon State - Edmonton Eskimos
Baker deserved to win the Heisman in 1962, when he was also named SI's "Sportsman of the Year." At QB, Baker led the Beavers to a 9-2 record his senior year, finishing his college career with 3,476 yards and 23 TD passes. The Rams drafted Baker in the first round, but in his first NFL season, he played little at his old position, completing 11 of 19 passes for 140 yards. Then the Rams tried to turn him into a running back, an experiment that failed, as he rushed 49 times for only 164 yards in 1964 and 1965 combined. By 1966, Baker was out of the NFL. courtesy ESPN - Biggest Heisman Flops. He played 2 season with the Edmonton Eskimos with moderate success.
1952 - Billy Vessels - Oklahoma - Edmonton Eskimos
Billy Vessels, the 1952 Heisman Trophy winner who helped Oklahoma win its first national title. A member of the College Football Hall of Fame, Vessels was the first in a long line of star running backs at Oklahoma that would later include Billy Sims and Steve Owens, the school's other Heisman winners. Vessels led Oklahoma in both rushing and receiving in 1950 as the Sooners finished first in both major polls. Two years later, Vessels finished second nationally with 1,072 yards and 108 points and won the Heisman Trophy. He went on to play for the Edmonton Eskimos in the Canadian Football League coached by former Sooner, Darrell Royal. Vessels won the Shenley Award in 1953 for outstanding player in the CFL.
– Michael Bishop – Kansas State – Toronto Argonauts
Don McPherson - Syracuse - Hamilton Tiger
2002 - Brad Banks - Iowa - Ottawa Winnipeg Montreal
Brad Banks led the Iowa Hawkeyes to an 11-1 record in 2002, while throwing 26 touchdowns and just 5 interceptions. Went un-drafted in the 2003 NFL draft but signed attended Washington Redskins training camp as a free agent. He was released midway through training camp and sat out the 2003-04 season. Banks signed with Ottawa prior to the 2004 season. He spent the first part of the season as a third stringer behind starter Kerry Joseph and Darnell Kennedy. Injuries to Joseph and Kennedy meant Banks mad his professional debut in week#7 versus Calgary. He played increasingly down the stretch including his first start versus Montreal in Olympic Stadium on October 3, 2004. Banks finished the year with 807 yards passing and 7 touchdowns. He threw only 2 interceptions. He returned to Ottawa for the 2005 season as the back-up to Kerry Joseph and played sparingly. Following the suspension of the Ottawa franchise Banks joined Winnipeg through the dispersal draft.
1998 - Michael Bishop - Kansas State - Toronto Saskatchewan Winnipeg
Michael Bishop was dominant in two season with Kansas State, leading the team to 22 wins over 2 season against just 2 losses. He finished as runner-up in the Heisman to Texas running back Ricky Williams. Bishop was drafted in the 7th round by the New England Patriots in the 1999 draft, he spent two seasons with New England and saw limited action. After bumping around between Green Bay and Frankfurt Galaxy of NFL Europe Bishop signed with the Toronto Argonauts in time for the 2002 season. Bishop struggled in his first season with Toronto, throwing 7 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Bishop filled in for the injured Damon Allen in 2004 and saw some playing action in the 97th Grey Cup victory for the Argonauts in Ottawa. Bishop has moved onto the Arena Football League with the Chicago Rush. Bishop was dealt from Toronto to Saskatchewan in 2008 and saw action in 2009 with Winnipeg.
1996 - Troy Davis - Iowa State - Edmonton Eskimos
As a junior with Iowa in '96 Troy Davis led the nation in rushing with 402 carries for 2,185 yards and 21 touchdowns in 11 games during the season. Davis became the first rusher in NCAA history to break the 2,000 yards rushing barrier in two seasons. Davis finished runner-up to Florida QB Danny Wuerffel in Heisman voting. He was drafted in the third round of the NFL draft by the New Orleans Saints. Davis spent three season with the Saints primarily on special teams, he was released following the 2001 season. Troy joined Hamilton in 2002 and rushed for 1,143 yards in his first season. Davis again broke the 1,000 yard barrier in 2003 with 1,206 yards and led the CFL in rushing in 2004 with 1,621 yards rushing and 10 touchdowns. Troy was traded to Edmonton in August 2005 and went on to win the Grey Cup with the Eskimos.
1995 - Tommie Frazier - Nebraska - Montreal Alouettes
Tommie Frazier is a true legend in the illustrious history of Cornhusker Football. Frazier started all four seasons with Nebraska from 1992-95 leading the club to 3 straight National Championship Games - winning two. He was a dual threat throwing and running ball for the dominant Nebraska program. Frazier finished second in 1995 Heisman voting to Eddie George of Ohio State. Frazier running style did not fit with what NFL teams were looking for in a quarterback and he went un-drafted in the 1996 NFL draft. Tommie signed with the Montreal Alouettes in 1996 as a free agent. It was hoped he could learn under Tracy Ham who had a similar style to Frazier but blood clot issues that had affected Frazier in college arose again and after limited action the Nebraska grad retired from Professional football. He finished his CFL career completing 6 of 17 attempts for 55 yards with an interception. He has since returned to Nebraska as a running backs coach.
1990 - Raghib Ismail - Notre Dame - Toronto Argonauts
by many to be one of the most entertaining players ever in college
football. Ismail had world class speed and provided breathtaking moments
for Notre Dame as a kick returner and receiver. Raghib dubbed "The Rocket"
finished runner-up to BYU quarterback Ty Detmer for the Heisman but was
widely considered to be the #1 draft pick of the NFL - the new ownership
of the Toronto Argonauts had other ideas. Bruce McNall owner of the Los
Angeles Kings along with star center Wayne Gretzky and comedian John Candy
had just recently purchased the Argonauts from Harry Ornest. McNall was
looking to make a splash and the electrifying Rocket was just the ticket.
McNall signed Ismail to a huge contract and made headlines across North
America. The league and Argonauts were definately on the map. 1991 was a
dream season Ismail and the Argonauts won the Grey Cup. While his CFL
career only lasted 1 more season, Ismail definitely made an impression in
pro football. Ismail
went on to play in the NFL with the Los Angeles Raiders, Carolina Panthers
and Dallas Cowboys.
1987 - Don McPherson - Syracuse - Hamilton Tiger Cats
University was a veritible CFL quarterback factory in the late 1980's.
Before the likes of Marvin Graves (Toronto), Kevin Mason (Saskatchewan) and Kevin McDougall
(Winnipeg) not to
mention Donovan McNabb as Orangeman pivots was Don McPherson. McPherson
was an incredible athlete he was a versatile quarterback with a strong arm
and good instincts. Although he would finish runner-up to Notre Dames Tim
Brown for the Heisman the future looked bright for Don. He was drafted by
the Philadelphia Eagles and gained experience under Randall Cunningham but
never did receive a fair shot to lead a team. Ultimately Don went to the CFL and joined the Hamilton Tiger Cats, he enjoyed some success but had a
terrible year in 1993 not lasting the season for the club as the starting
QB. After 1 more season with Ottawa he was out of the league, a
dissapointing end to a promising career.
1986 - Paul Palmer - Temple - Toronto Argonauts
Paul had a brief stint with Toronto during the 1991 season. His statistical totals reflect just how brief his stay was: 5 yards on 2 carries.
1974 - Anthony Davis - USC - Toronto Argonauts
Before internet and the plethora of sports publications available today the measure of an athletes importance in sports was making the cover of Sport Illustrated the authority of pro sports in the 1970's. For USC running back Anthony Davis he made the cover 3 times as a collegiate stand-out, Davis finished runner-up to Ohio State tailback Archie Griffin for the 1974 Heisman. Davis was flamboyant, arrogant and extremely talented. Davis spent 1 season in the ill-fated World Football League with the Southern California Sun setting a league record with 16 touchdowns in 12 games. When the WFL folded Davis was left with several options, the NFL's New York Jets pursued Davis but money talks and the $1 million 5 year contract from the Toronto Argonauts was enough to bring Davis to Canada. The offence was not tailored for Davis and nagging injuries did not help what led to an abysmal season for Davis. He proceeded to buy his way out of the remainder of his contract and leave the CFL.
1970 - Joe Theismann - Notre Dame - Toronto Argonauts
Joe Theismann won a Super Bowl with the Washingston Redskins and gone on to become a distinguished broadcaster. back in 1970 he was a star quaterback with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, he finished runner-up in Heisman voting to Stanford quarterback Jim Plunkett. Joe was deemed a little small for the NFL but was drafted by Miami in 1971 in the fourth round. Contract negotiations with the Dolphins were trying on Theismann and when an offer arrived from the Argonauts to be the starting quarterback Joe signed in Toronto. He would lead the team to the Grey Cup in 1971 but the Argos were defeated. He would play in Toronto for two more seasons before going to the NFL signing with the Washington Redskins. As a Heisman runner-up Theismann brought talent and notoriety to the CFL in the heady days of the early 1970's.
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