Heisman Trophy



Flutie       -       Rodgers       -       Ismail       -       McPherson       -       Davis       -       Theismann

2006 Heisman winning quarterback Troy Smith brought his talents to the Montreal Alouettes in 2013.

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.


Heisman Winners

2006 - Troy Smith - Ohio St. - Montreal

2001 - Eric Crouch - Nebraska - Toronto Argonauts

1998 - Ricky Williams - Texas - Toronto Argonauts

1989 Andre Ware University of Houston Ottawa, B.C., Toronto
 1984 Doug Flutie Boston College Toronto, Calgary, B.C.
 1972 Johnny Rodgers Nebraska Montreal Alouettes
 1962 Terry Baker Oregon State Edmonton Eskimos
 1952 Billy Vessels Oklahoma Edmonton Eskimos


2006 - Troy Smith - Ohio St. - Montreal Alouettes


Troy Smith led the Ohio State Buckeyes to a Fiesta Bowl win in 2006 under the leadership of Jim Tressel. Smith was named the 2006 Heisman winner and was a 5th round draft pick of the Baltimore Ravens in 2007. Smith saw limited action with Baltimore and was consequently moved to the San Francisco 49ers where he saw action in 6 games in 2010. The strong armed Smith had some success with San Francisco but was not re-signed for 2011. After spending time in the UFL with Omaha and a try-out with Pittsburgh in 2012 Smith returned to work at his alma matter Ohio State. Jim Popp the GM of the Montreal Alouettes had Smith on his negotiations list for 10 years when a deal was struck to bring Smith north in 2013. Smith joined the Montreal Alouettes in July and quickly was incorporated into the offence becoming the clubs started in late October. Smith displayed his strong athletic skills leading the Alouettes to 2 victories down the stretch and a playoff appearance. He returned as the acclaimed starter in 2014 but struggled mightily out of the gate. Montreal overhauled their offence brantrust bringing in Don Matthews and Jeff Garcia. Smith fell out of favour with the regime and was replaced by Jonathan Crompton as starter. He was released from the club late in the season.



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


The 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
Rodgers in the first round and looked at Johnny as a cornerstone of their future. Salary negotiations with Rodgers did not get off on the right foot. When it became readily apparent that Johnny would not be getting a six figure salary from the NFL, an offer from the CFL Alouettes for that elusive amount and recognition in a cultural and happening city like Montreal was all Johnny needed, he stunned the football world and signed to play in the CFL. After 4 seasons Rodgers had won a Grey Cup and been named a league all-star on numerous occasion. Johnny signed with the San Diego Chargers but injuries ended his hopes of matching his brilliance in the CFL with the Chargers.


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.


Heisman Runners-Up

 2002 Brad Banks Iowa Ottawa, Winnipeg

 1998 Michael Bishop Kansas State Toronto Argonauts
 1996 Troy Davis Iowa State Hamilton, Edmonton
 1995 Tommie Frazier Nebraska Montreal Alouettes
 1990 Raghib Ismail Notre Dame Toronto Argonauts

 1987 Don McPherson - Syracuse - Hamilton Tiger Cats
 1986 Paul Palmer Temple Toronto Argonauts
 1974 Anthony Davis USC Toronto Argonauts
 1970 Joe Theismann Notre Dame Toronto Argonauts


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


Considered 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


Syracuse 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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