If you examine Herschel Walker’s incredible stats during his three-year career at the University of Georgia, you might wonder why he did not win a Heisman Trophy after each season.
In Walker’s day, the unspoken rule among Heisman voters was that freshmen and sophomores did not win the award, which hindered his chances of bringing home the hardware. But if you dig deeper you find that, despite Walker’s great numbers, George Rogers and Marcus Allen were deserving winners in 1980 and 1981, respectively.
In Walker’s freshman season in 1980, he racked up 1,616 rushing yards on 274 attempts and scored 15 rushing touchdowns. On the other hand, Rogers had 1,781 yards on 297 rushes with 14 rushing touchdowns.
Walker was even better the next year with a then-Southeastern Conference single-season record 1,891 rushing yards on 385 attempts and 18 rushing touchdowns. But Allen had an incredible 2,342 yards on 433 rushes, 22 touchdowns, and a flood of shattered NCAA records to win the 1981 Heisman.
Walker was finally awarded the Heisman Trophy on Dec. 4, 1982, after an impressive 1,752 rushing yards (an average of 159.3 yards per game), and 16 rushing touchdowns. That year, Walker led the Bulldogs to a perfect 11-0 regular season record and the 1983 Sugar Bowl, where they lost to Penn State, 27-23, for the national championship.
When the dust settled on his outstanding career, Walker had run for a total of 5,259 yards, a SEC record that still stands.
Walker is easily one of the greatest college football players of all time, but to be fair, he only deserved the single trophy. In an era of dominant running backs, it rightfully took Walker three years to earn his place among the Heisman greats. H&A
Cover photo courtesy UGA Athletics.