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Ohio State's George Captures Heisman

By J.A. Adande
Washington Post Staff Writer
December 10, 1995

NEW YORK, Dec. 9 -- Right up until the winning name was announced, there had been nonstop talk about how this could be one of the tightest Heisman Trophy votes in history, how no one could predict a sure-fire winner.

As it turned out, the final result wasn't all that close. And to find the winner, one only had to look at the history of the award. So perhaps it is no surprise that the 61st Heisman Trophy went to a running back from the Big Ten Conference, particularly a running back from Ohio State. It went to senior Eddie George.

This is something my whole team and the whole community of Columbus can be proud of, George said after receiving the award at the Downtown Athletic Club. The Heisman Trophy, and now I'm a part of it. It's incredible.

George collected 268 first-place votes and 1,460 points in a procedure that awards three points for a first-place vote, two points for a second-place vote and one point for third place. He had 264 points more than Nebraska senior quarterback Tommie Frazier (1,196). Florida junior quarterback Danny Wuerffel finished third with 987 points.

Northwestern sophomore running back Darnell Autry was fourth with 535 points, and Iowa State sophomore running back Troy Davis was fifth with 402.

George is the 12th Big Ten running back to win the award, and the fifth from Ohio State, joining fellow Buckeyes Les Horvath, Vic Janowicz, Howard Cassady and the only two-time winner, Archie Griffin.

It's been a long time since we won it, though, said Griffin, who won his second trophy in 1975. I think 20 years afterward, it's time we won it again. It's great; we get to add another one.

Each of the five finalists presented a strong case. For George, the winning argument was his school-record 1,826 rushing yards, which could have been higher if Ohio State Coach John Cooper hadn't sat George in the second half in many of their blowout victories. Still, George finished with 24 touchdowns, the most in Division I-A.

Of the two quarterbacks, Wuerffel had the gaudier passing numbers. He completed 210 of 325 (65 percent) for 3,266 yards and 35 touchdowns, finishing with an NCAA single-season record rating of 178.4.

Frazier rushed for 604 yards and 14 touchdowns and passed for 1,362 yards and 17 touchdowns. Autry rushed for a school-record 1,675 yards, gaining at least 100 yards in every game, while carrying the ball a staggering 355 times.

Davis became only the fifth Division I-A running back to surpass the 2,000-yard mark, finishing with 2,010 yards. Each of the previous 2,000-yard gainers had been awarded the Heisman: Oklahoma State's Barry Sanders (2,628 in 1988); Southern California's Marcus Allen (2,342 yards in 1981); Nebraska's Mike Rozier (2,148 in 1983); and Colorado's Rashaan Salaam (2,055 in 1994).

It is kind of strange, Davis said. I rushed for over 2,000 yards and I didn't come up with nothing. But Eddie George almost got 2,000 yards, and he deserves it.

Frazier expressed similar thoughts for George.

I'm happy for him, Frazier said. He went out and he played the best he could, and good things happened for him. No one can go away from here without a smile on their face, because we're all winners.

Frazier and Wuerffel can keep on smiling, since they are the biggest winners of the college football season. Their teams will meet to decide the national championship Jan. 2 in the Fiesta Bowl.

When asked if he would trade his Heisman for that opportunity, George responded: That's a tough question to ask. I'd rather have it all.

George thrust himself into the heart of the Heisman race when he rushed for 212 yards against Washington on Sept. 16, and probably solidified his candidacy when he gained 314 yards against Illinois on Nov. 11.

Although Frazier received consistent support from the voters921 ballots were sent out to members of the media and the living Heisman winnersWuerffel came on strong in the final two weeks of the season to make the race closer. Wuerffel received more than 25 percent of the votes tallied by the accounting firm of Deloitte & Touche in the final week of balloting, and more than 15 percent in the week beforethis after receiving less than 10 percent in each of the first two weeks.

George garnered most of his votes in his home region, the Midwest, which includes every Big Ten state except Pennsylvania. He also won the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions. Frazier won the Far West and Southwest regions, while Wuerffel won the South.

© 1996 The Washington Post Company

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