The most surprising and successful Heisman winners

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Every year, the Heisman trophy winner is awarded to the most outstanding player in college football. Today, the golden statue will be awarded for the 79th time in its history. While there may be a few favorites in the mix like Jameis Winston from Florida State, the nominees will go down in history with some of the greatest college football players to play the game.

We've rounded up the most surprising and successful Heisman trophy winners to date. Click through the gallery below to see them all.

Heisman Trophy Winners Past
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The most surprising and successful Heisman winners

Glenn Davis played for the United States Military Academy - West Point, and while some of the records he set in college have been broken, he still holds the all-time record for most yards averaged per carry in one season, 11.5 yards in 1945. He is ranked by ESPN as one of the "25 Greatest Players in College Football."

Walker was a Running Back for Southern Methodist University and is the reason the Cotton Bowl is known as "The House That Doak Built." He went on to play in the NFL for the Detroit Lions, wherein he was voted All-Pro 4 times and led the team to two NFL Championships.  The Lions have retired his number 37.

Paul Hornung is the only Heisman winner to win from a losing team (their 1956 season was 2W-8L), and as such was a definite underdog.  Playing for Notre Dame, he won the award because he basically was the team in 1956 -- playing as quarterback, running back, safety, punter, kicker and occasionally wide receiver! He went on to play for the Green Bay Packers during its "dynasty" years in the 1960s, and has been inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Ernie Davis was the first black player to win the Heisman Trophy.  He was an All-American player at Syracuse University, but was unable to play in a professional game because his promising life and career were cut short by Leukemia at age 23.  Syracuse has retired his(and Jim Brown's) number 44, and the movie "The Express" was released in 2008 about his life.

Roger Staubach was an all-American quarterback from the Navy. He served in the military for 4 years upon graduation, and joined the NFL at 27. He led the Dallas Cowboys to four Super Bowls and two titles.

John Huarte was a darkhorse winner in 1964, as during his sophomore and junior years at Notre Dame he played for just a few minutes each game.  Becoming the starting QB as a senior, he led the team to an extremely successful season where they won all but one game. Another surprise? He beat out one of the best linebackers of all time -- Dick Butkus.

O.J. Simpson was a running back for USC when he won the Heisman in 1968.  Nicknamed "The Juice" he went on to play for the Buffalo Bills and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1985.  He is most infamously known for the murder trial of 1994 when he was accused of killing his ex wife and her friend.

Ohio State's running back Archie Griffin was the first (and only) player to win the Heisman Trophy twice -- in 1974 and 1975. Many aren't sure he definitely deserved to win the second time around.  

Earl Campbell running back out of Texas, is one of a select few who were first pick in the NFL draft and a member of both the Pro Football Hall of Fame and College Football Hall of Fame. He went on to play for Houston, and led the league in rushing during his first 3 seasons. He made the Pro Bowl five times.

Marcus Allen, #33 fullback of the University of Southern California went on to play for the Los Angeles Raiders and the Kansas City Chiefs. He is considered one of the best short-yard and goal line runners of all time, and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2003.

Herschel Walker, running back for the University of Georgia, is ranked #3 by ESPN on the list of 25 Greatest Players in College Football, and is widely regarded as the best college RB of all time. 
Doug Flutie, senior quarterback at Boston College, was an underdog in the running for the Heisman. One of the "most memorable moments in college sports," however, may have pushed him over the edge! His hail mary in 1984 (later dubbed the "Hail Flutie") was seriously epic.
Bo Jackson, running back out of Auburn University, is the only athlete to be an All Star in two major American professional sports: Football and Baseball. ESPN calls him the greatest athlete of all time.
While in college, Oklahoma State's running back Barry Sanders set a staggering 25 NCAA records in his 1988 season. He spent his entire professional career with the Detroit Lions and was inducted into both the College and Professional Halls of Fame.

Charles Woodson was the first, and is still the only primarily defensive player to win the Heisman. He played for Michigan, and beat out favorite Peyton Manning!

Though Reggie Bush had to give up his Heisman trophy due to allegations that he'd received extra benefits for playing and sanctions against USC, he is one of the more successful players to win in the latest years.  He now plays for the Detroit Lions, but in 2010 won a Super Bowl with the New Orleans Saints.

Quarterback Tim Tebow of the University of Florida was the first sophomore to win the Heisman. He was garnered a lot of attention when he first entered the NFL, but it seems the hype has died down. Though he was the starting QB for the Broncos in 2011, he is now a free agent.
Cam Newton of the Auburn University Tigers is now the quarterback of the Carolina Panthers.  He almost lost out on the Heisman and his college career when it was reported that his father solicited Mississippi State over $120,000 for Cam to play there, but as Cam didn't know of his father's illegal actions, he was reinstated. In his rookie year of the NFL, Newton broke countless records and continues to have huge success.
RG III won the Heisman as QB for Baylor.  He is currently the starting quarterback for the Washington Redskins (and is the first NFL QB to be born in the '90s!) earning the title of NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2012. 
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