Heisman Trophy

Archie Griffin never thought about winning the Heisman Trophy -- until he actually won it.

Then everything changed. Griffin was back at Ohio State the next season, and he couldn't get that trophy out of his head. Classmates, strangers on the streets would ask him about it. Some guys take the politically correct path and say they're just focused on doing the right things. But Griffin is far enough away that he can be honest about his mindset.

"I wanted to win it," Griffin says.

Archie Griffin

Griffin is famous as the only Heisman winner to win the stiff-arm trophy twice. In 1974, he was recognized following a 1,695-yard rushing season, capped by 12 touchdowns. That victory set a strange tone for his senior season. Griffin reminds how then-OSU coach Woody Hayes had a saying: "You're either getting better or you're getting worse."

"I felt like I needed to get better a little bit to win," Griffin says. "But it was a burden, though to deal with. People would ask me about it, and I would say I didn't know if I could win it again, but in my heart I really wanted to win it."

Before the season even started, Griffin was worn down -- the internal pressure he had placed on himself was taking its toll. Then during training camp one night, Griffin read a Bible verse that changed his mindset.

"Psalm 37:4: 'Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart,'" Griffin recalls. "I knew then that if I would serve the Lord, he'd either take away that desire to win the Heisman, or he'd give me that award. Thankfully, he chose the latter."

Griffin repeated even though his senior campaign numbers fell short of his junior year: He only managed 1,450 yards and four touchdowns on the ground, but the committee deemed him the best in college football.

Deshaun Watson

This year, three finalists have a shot at winning that award themselves. In theory, all three of them could choose to return next season to defend their Heisman victory. Early estimates have Alabama's Derrick Henry as a likely mid-round pick in next year's NFL Draft, though such forecasts could change dramatically between now and the spring.

As a junior, Henry could elect to stay at the college level for his senior campaign. Both Clemson's Deshaun Watson and Stanford's Christian McCaffrey are true sophomores and ineligible to declare for the NFL, meaning that they will be back in the college game next year, Heisman winners or not.

Should this year's winner return, they'll join the ranks of several recent Heisman winners to try and repeat their honor, including Florida State's Jameis Winston, Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel, Oklahoma's Sam Bradford and Florida's Tim Tebow.

Big Ten Heisman Trophy Winners

 

Troy Smith

Ohio State quarterback, 2006.

 

Ron Dayne

Wisconsin running back, 1999.

 

Charles Woodson

Michigan cornerback/returner, 1997.

 

Eddie George

Ohio State running back, 1995.

 

Desmond Howard

Michigan receiver/returner, 1991.

 

Archie Griffin

Ohio State running back, 1975.

 

Archie Griffin

Ohio State running back, 1974.

 

Howard Cassady

Ohio State running back, 1955.

 

Alan Ameche

Wisconsin running back, 1950.

 

Vic Janowicz

Ohio State running back, 1950.

 

Les Horvath

Ohio State quarterback, 1944.

 

Bruce Smith

Minnesota running back, 1941.

 

Tom Harmon

Michigan running back, 1940.

 

Nile Kinnick

Iowa running back, 1939.

 

Jay Berwanger

Chicago running back, 1935.

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All of them came up short. Some cases are circumstantial: Bradford suffered an injury-plagued junior season before declaring for the draft one year later. In other cases, the spotlight might have simply shined too bright.

Griffin says that for all the pressure the outside world gave him, his worst influence was himself. He excelled in his senior season by pushing that burden aside. The next person to win multiple Heismans would be wise to heed his warning.

"Once you win the trophy, the pressure is there," Griffin says. "They want to wish you luck to do it the next time. [But] I probably put more pressure on myself than anyone put on me at all."

More: Archie Griffin Talks Big Ten, Ezekiel Elliott, More