It’s been 16 years since an Ohio-born player — Troy Smith at Ohio State — won the Heisman Trophy. But Ohio has history on its side when it comes to the Heisman.
BetOhio wanted to look at trends of where most of the Heisman Trophy winners were born. Using Heisman.com, we tracked every winner’s birth state since the first Heisman Trophy was awarded in 1935.
Could this be used to show if any longshot has an outside chance at the Heisman in 2022? Well, Ohio has the second-most Heisman Trophy winners (10). California has the most with 13.
It’s probably no coincidence that the leading contender for the Heisman with the best odds in Ohio sports betting — C.J. Stroud — was born in California — and he plays for Ohio State. Sports betting in Ohio is legal, but the market won’t launch until Jan. 1, 2023.
Archie Griffin Leads Ohio Heismans
Nine winners were born in Ohio, with Archie Griffin winning twice to make the Buckeye State one of two states with double-digit Heisman winners.
Griffin, the only two-time Heisman Trophy winner (1974-75), played his high school, college and professional football in Ohio. Griffin was born in Columbus and starred at Eastmoor High School before suiting up for Woody Hayes and the Ohio State Buckeyes. He was a first-round pick of the Ohio Bengals in 1976 and spent seven seasons in Cincinnati.
Griffin is one of four Ohio-born Heisman Trophy winners to win the award at Ohio State.
Quarterback Troy Smith was born in Columbus but played high school ball at St. Edward and Glenville High School in Cleveland. Smith, the last Ohio-born Heisman winner, won the award in 2006, leading the Buckeyes to the National Championship Game.
Howard “Hopalong” Cassady was born in Columbus and attended Central High School before winning the Heisman Trophy in 1955 as a running back at Ohio State.
Lastly, Vic Janowicz was the second Buckeye (Indiana-born Les Horvath in 1944) to ever hoist the Heisman Trophy, winning in 1950 in the final year of the Wes Fesler era. Janowicz was born in Elyria and played at Elyria High School.
Ohio State’s biggest rival, Michigan, had two Heisman Trophy winners from Ohio in the 1990s. Charles Woodson, born in Fremont, Ohio, won the Heisman at Michigan in 1997. Six years earlier, Desmond Howard, a Cleveland native, won the Heisman in 1991 while playing for the Wolverines.
Roger Staubach is the lone Heisman winner born in Cincinnati. “Captain Comeback” played at Purcell High School (now Purcell Marian High School) before winning the Heisman in 1964 while at Navy.
Dick Kazmaier, born in Maumee, Ohio, won the Heisman in 1951 at Princeton. The first Ohio-born Heisman winner was Larry Kelley in 1936, who was born in Conneaut, Ohio.
Frank Sinkwich, who played high school ball and graduated from Youngstown Chaney, won the Heisman at Georgia. But he was born in Starjak, Croatia.
Will an Ohio-born player win the Heisman in 2022?
Currently, no Ohio-born player is among the Top 80 players in Heisman Trophy odds, according to BetMGM. While there’s no Ohio-born players, Ohio State has the Heisman favorite under center in California-born C.J. Stroud (+200). Ohio State running back TreVeyon Henderson (Virginia) is +2000 and wide receiver Jaxson Smith-Njigba (Texas) is +3000.
Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford is 80-to-1 to win the Heisman. Clifford played high school football in Cincinnati at St. Xavier, but was born in Illinois.
Shelby Dermer is a reporter for BetOhio.com. Shelby has been a sports reporter for the Cincinnati Enquirer for the last five years and now lends his expertise to the Ohio sports betting market. He grew up in Waynesville, Ohio, and graduated from Ohio University.