Photo courtesy of Heisman Trophy
It’s certainly the most prestigious individual award in all of college football. Most would probably say that it’s the most prestigious individual award in all of sports.
That of course, is the Heisman Trophy. It was awarded for the first time on this day to Chicago’s Jay Berwanger.
Berwanger for Heisman
It was Nov. 29, 1935 when Berwanger received a telegraph from Manhattan’s Downtown Athletic Club. He was told that was named college football’s “most valuable football player east of the Mississippi.”
For Chicago in 1935, Berwanger did just about everything. He finished the year with 577 yards rushing, 405 yards passing and six total touchdowns.
The Maroons went just 4-4 that season, but Berwanger’s ability was noticeable on both ends of the field. Berwanger did everything from passing to running, to returning kicks to rushing the passer.
Berwanger was a standout and was nicknamed the “Genius of the Gridiron” “the One-man Team” and “the Flying Dutchman” among other monikers. A Unanimous All-American, Berwanger received more votes than the second, third and fourth-place finishers combined.
During the 1935 season, Berwanger was also Big Ten Player of the Year.
Manhattan’s Downtown Athletic Club at the time was directed by former football coach John Heisman. Following Heisman’s death in October 1936, it came to be known as the Heisman Trophy. It also became a national award rather than a regional one.
This year’s Heisman Trophy will be awarded virtually due to COVID-19, but its significance has not declined. This year’s winner will be the 86th to take home take home the trophy.
It was first awarded to Jay Berwanger on this day 85 years ago.