By Eric Bailey • Tulsa World
NORMAN — Oklahoma has a rich Heisman Trophy history.
Quarterback Baker Mayfield could be the school’s sixth winner of college football’s top award on Saturday night. Only three other schools — Notre Dame and Ohio State (seven) and USC (six) — would have as many Heisman winners as OU.
Each previous OU winner has a unique story.
Billy Vessels was Oklahoma’s first winner in 1952. Steve Owens (1969) traded his Heisman Trophy cuff links with then-President Richard Nixon for a set of his Presidential Seal cuff links. Billy Sims won the 1978 award but finished second the next year. Jason White (2004) overcame knee injuries to win the Heisman. Sam Bradford (2008) is the first Native American to capture the award.
A by-the-numbers look at OU and the Heisman history:
Respect on defense
Oklahoma is tied with Nebraska for having the most defensive players who have finished in the top five of Heisman voting — Kurt Burris (1954, second), Jerry Tubbs (1956, fourth) and Brian Bosworth (1986, fourth). Only 24 defensive players all-time have finished among the top five in voting.
Nearly all homegrown Heisman winners
Billy Vessels (1952), Steve Owens (1969), Billy Sims (1978), Jason White (2003) and Sam Bradford (2008) have earned trophies while at Oklahoma. All are natives from the state of Oklahoma with exception of Sims: Vessels (Cleveland), Owens (Miami), White (Tuttle) and Bradford (Oklahoma City). Sims is from Hooks, Texas.
Baker Mayfield and the Heisman?
In the Heisman Trophy’s 83-year history, no Heisman Trophy winner has worn No. 6. If Mayfield wins, he will be the first. Jersey numbers worn by the Sooners’ former winners — Vessels (35), Owens (36), Sims (20), White (18) and Bradford (14).
Smallest point margin of victory by an OU winner
Billy Sims finished with 827 points in 1978, which was 77 points ahead of second-place finisher Chuck Fusina (Penn State). Of the past 82 Heisman margins, Oklahoma has never had a winner margin of more than 158 points (Vessels). Other point margins of victory include Owens (154), White (128) and Bradford (122).
Well represented in the Big Apple
Since 2000, the Sooners have sent eight finalists to New York City for the ceremony, the most of any program in the country — Josh Heupel (2000), Jason White (2003 and 2004), Adrian Peterson (2004), Sam Bradford (2008), Dede Westbrook (2016) and Mayfield (2016 and 2017). Since 1982, only Oklahoma has sent multiple players to the Heisman ceremony and that’s happened twice (2004, 2016).