Running back Herschel Walker of the University of Georgia, the most dominant player in college football for the last three years, finally won the Heisman Trophy tonight and, in so doing, became only the seventh junior to be given the award.
Walker -- who finished third in the balloting two years ago and second in 1981 -- won by a wide margin over Stanford senior quarterback John Elway, with Southern Methodist senior running back Eric Dickerson third.
In balloting conducted by 1,050 sportswriters and sportscasters, Walker, 20, received 525 first-place votes and totaled 1,926 points. Elway received 139 first-place votes and 1,231 points. Dickerson had 31 first-place votes for 465 points.
"I don't feel bad," said Dickerson. "I feel I lost to a great athlete and a great person."
After accepting the award, Walker said he would return to Georgia for his senior season. "College has made me a better person and I wouldn't want to cut my life short by turning pro," said Walker. "I would like to win a gold medal in the Olympics (Walker is a sprinter) after my senior year. I'm taking criminology and I'm also considering law school because I want to become an FBI agent.
"As far as the pros, I want to negotiate my own contract; maybe I can pay the commission (earned by an agent) to myself."
The Heisman Trophy has been presented annually since 1935 by the Downtown Athletic Club and is awarded to the "outstanding college football player in the country."
Walker certainly was that as he led top-ranked and Sugar Bowl-bound Georgia to its second unbeaten season in three years.
Walker, 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds, is the nation's second-leading rusher with 1,752 yards despite playing the first game of the year with a fractured right thumb and gaining only 20 yards. Walker finished the year with 335 rushes for an average of 5.2 yards per carry. He also scored 16 touchdowns and averaged 159.3 yards per game, including three 200-yard-plus games.
In three seasons at Georgia, Walker is the third-leading rusher in NCAA history with 5,259 yards and needs just 824 yards next season to to break Tony Dorsett's record of 6,082 yards.
Since Walker, from Wrightsville, Ga., enrolled at Georgia, the Bulldogs have gone 33-2.
Rounding out the list of top 10 finishers were Anthony Carter of Michigan, Dave Rimington of Nebraska, Todd Blackledge of Penn Sate, Tom Ramsey of UCLA, Tony Eason of Illinois, Dan Marino of Pitt, Mike Rozier of Nebraska and Curt Warner of Penn State (the last two tied for 10th).
The only other juniors who won the award were Billy Sims (Oklahoma, 1978), Archie Griffin (Ohio State, 1974), Roger Staubach (Navy, 1963), Vic Janowicz (1950), Doak Walker (SMU, 1948) and Doc Blanchard (Army, 1945).