Heisman Trophy Odds & Futures Betting
We all know the pose. We all know the hype. We all know just how talented a college football player needs to be in order to hold the coveted title of Heisman Trophy winner. This award, which began in 1935 when running back Jay Berwanger was named the best college football player that year, is one of the oldest and most prestigious in all of American sports.
The Heisman has been awarded to players at nearly every level of college football, been the topic of much debate and has been the reason some players have been drafted higher than they likely would have been without it (as we’ve discovered over the years, a Heisman winner doesn’t necessarily mean a good NFL player).
But what about betting on the Heisman Trophy? Is there a secret to success? Can it be predicted with any accuracy? We’ve assembled this Heisman Trophy betting guide to help you answer those questions and more, along with the latest odds on top Heisman contenders.
2021 Heisman Trophy odds
See below for the current odds on the top potential 2021 Heisman Trophy winners.
How do Heisman Trophy futures bets work?
Futures bets are exactly what they sound like: wagers you place on an event that has yet to happen and is often far in the future. Those bets range from things like the Heisman Trophy winner to the college football national champion or the first NFL draft pick.
These bets are often available immediately after the previous event comes to a conclusion. As an example, you were able to make a bet on the next Super Bowl winner just days after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers hoisted the Lombardi Trophy following their victory over the Kansas City Chiefs.
For Heisman Trophy futures specifically, the college football odds in NY usually depend on how well players performed last year and if they were in the running for the award already. Be aware that your futures bet could be in jeopardy if the player you wagered on gets injured (and star players do get the ball more than others, which tends to lead to more hits), or depending on a bad game or preseason news.
In the case of a canceled season, each sportsbook has its own set of rules. For the most part, however, sportsbooks would consider such an event a “force majeure,” which is a natural or unavoidable catastrophe that interrupts events and prevents them from being completed. In those cases, most bettors can expect their sportsbooks to cancel the bets on futures for players or teams that had their seasons canceled. Read through the terms and conditions at your sportsbook to find out how they individually handle such events.
How to pick a Heisman Trophy winner
First and foremost, we suggest that you develop a betting strategy and handicapping routine that will allow you to dig into the stats, performances and expectations of the players on whom you may wager.
In that regard, you should look over past Heisman Trophy recipients to see how the selections have gone. Take a look at what positions they played and you’ll see a glaring trend immediately: Since 1935, only six players who have played a position other than quarterback or running back (which includes fullbacks) have received the honor:
- Larry Kelly, End, Yale (1936)
- Leon Hart, End, Notre Dame (1949)
- Tim Brown, WR, Notre Dame (1987)
- Desmond Howard, WR and PR, Michigan (1991)
- Charles Woodson, CB and PR, Michigan (1997)
- DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama (2020)
Those numbers are quite glaring. In essence, you can nearly ignore any position outside of quarterback and running back when making your decision, though, clearly, there are the occasional exceptions.
While the QB/RB trend isn’t likely going to change anytime soon, one factor in the Heisman selection has definitely shifted in the modern era. From 1935 to 2006, it was only seniors and juniors taking home the coveted award.
In 2007, that began to shift after Tim Tebow (QB, Florida) won it as a sophomore, a trend that continued for two more seasons with Sam Bradford (QB, Oklahoma) winning it as a sophomore in 2008 and Mark Ingram Jr. (RB, Alabama) receiving the award as a sophomore in 2009.
In 2012, Johnny Manziel (QB, Texas A&M) made history as the first-ever freshman to win the award, a feat duplicated by Jameis Winston (QB, Florida State) in 2013. In 2016, sophomore Lamar Jackson (QB, Louisville) won the award.
Since then, the award has shifted back to upperclassmen with Baker Mayfield (QB, Oklahoma, senior), Kyler Murray (QB, Oklahoma, junior), Joe Burrow (QB, LSU, senior) and DeVonta Smith (WR, Alabama, senior) being honored.
Who are the favorites for the 2021 Heisman Trophy?
The sportsbooks started dropping the lines on players immediately following the previous Heisman ceremony. See the betting odds above for current favorites for this year’s Heisman award.
Keep in mind that over the course of the last 10 years, only one of the 10 players who were favorites to win the Heisman Trophy in Week 1 of the college football season actually won it. Heck, out of those guys, there were four winners who didn’t even register as a potential winner in the preseason, including the first freshman to ever win the award, Johnny Manziel.
List of Heisman Trophy winners since 2010
Some of these names are really going to be recognizable because of what they have accomplished so far in the NFL. Others haven’t done so hot in that regard.
Nonetheless, in their time at the college level, they were the best of the best.
- 2020: DeVonta Smith, Alabama, wide receiver, senior
- 2019: Joe Burrow, LSU, quarterback, senior*
- 2018: Kyler Murray, Oklahoma, quarterback, junior*
- 2017: Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma, quarterback, senior*
- 2016: Lamar Jackson, Louisville, quarterback, sophomore
- 2015: Derrick Henry, Alabama, running back, junior
- 2014: Marcus Mariota, Oregon, quarterback, junior*
- 2013: Jameis Winston, Florida State, quarterback, freshman*
- 2012: Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M, quarterback, freshman*
- 2011: Robert Griffin III, Baylor, quarterback, junior*
- 2010: Cam Newton, Auburn, quarterback, junior*
*These players used their redshirt season to maintain their class standing/eligibility according to NCAA rules, so they may have won it, for instance, as a second-year freshman.
Heisman Trophy facts and FAQ
Who votes for the Heisman Trophy winner?
Mostly, sports journalists. There are about 930 votes for the 2021 Heisman Trophy, and 870 of them are sports journalists. Six reputable sports journalists are chosen as representatives of separate US regions. In those regions, the sectional representatives then choose other sports journalists as voters. Each region has 145 votes.
Past Heisman Trophy winners also are eligible to vote on each year’s winner. Currently, that’s about 60 past winners. And there’s one more vote to count, too: Starting in 1999, the public has been able to weigh in with one “fan vote” among the ballots.
Has anyone ever been a repeat Heisman winner?
Yes, just once. Archie Griffin, of the Ohio State Buckeyes, won the Heisman both his junior and senior years, in 1974 and 1975. Griffin, a running back, had also finished fifth in Heisman voting his sophomore year. He played for Ohio State from 1972 to 1975, with the Buckeyes winning a Big Ten title each year. Griffin also was the first player to start in four Rose Bowl games in his college career.
Has anyone won the Heisman Trophy and NFL MVP?
Nine times to date — the most recent being Lamar Jackson in 2020, who was the Heisman winner in 2016. Here are all the players who have won both the Heisman and NFL MVP:
- Lamar Jackson, 2020 MVP, 2016 Heisman
- Cam Newton, 2015 MVP, 2010 Heisman
- Barry Sanders, 1997 MVP, 1988 Heisman
- Marcus Allen, 1985 MVP, 1981 Heisman
- Earl Campbell, 1978 and 1979 MVP, 1977 Heisman
- J. Simpson, 1973 MVP, 1968 Heisman
- Roger Staubach, 1971 MVP, 1963 Heisman
- Paul Hornung, 1961 MVP, 1956 Heisman
- Frank Sinkwich, 1944 MVP, 1942 Heisman
A few Heisman winners have also taken home the title of Super Bowl MVP:
- Roger Staubach, Dallas, 1972
- Jim Plunkett, Oakland, 1981
- Marcus Allen, LA Raiders, 1984
- Desmond Howard, Green Bay, 1997
Has anyone ever won the Heisman and not played in the NFL?
Quite a few. There have been at least 15 Heisman winners who went undrafted by the NFL, while others never entered the draft at all, for various reasons. In fact, the very first winner (when it was named the Downtown Athletic Club Award), the University of Chicago’s Jay Berwanger, never signed with an NFL team after a few rounds of failed salary negotiations. Other Heisman winners ended up in other leagues, like the AFL or AAFC, or the Canadian Football League.
And some Heisman winners, like 2001 winner Eric Crouch, were drafted, but never played an NFL game. Here are some of the more notable Heisman winners who never played in the NFL:
- Jay Berwanger, 1935, Chicago halfback. He was drafted No. 1 overall by the Eagles and had an offer from the Bears, but couldn’t come to terms on a contract.
- Larry Kelley, 1936, Yale end. He signed a one-game contract with the Boston Shamrocks of the AFL, but never played.
- Clint Frank, 1937, Yale halfback. He was drafted in the 12th round in 1938 by the Detroit Lions, but never signed with them.
- Nile Kinnick, 1939, Iowa halfback. He chose not to pursue a career in pro football, and attended law school before joining the Navy.
- Doc Blanchard, 1945, Army fullback. He opted for a military career instead.
- Dick Kazmaier, 1951, Princeton halfback. He was drafted by the Chicago Bears in 1952, but chose to attend Harvard Business School.
- Pete Dawkins, 1958, Army halfback. He chose a military career instead.
- Ernie Davis, 1961, Syracuse halfback. Davis, the first Black Heisman Trophy winner, was drafted by Washington as the No. 1 pick, and was traded to the Cleveland Browns. He died of leukemia before ever playing an NFL game.
- Charlie Ward, 1993, Florida State quarterback. He went into the NBA to play for the New York Knicks instead.
- Eric Crouch, 2001, Nebraska quarterback. He was drafted by the St. Louis Rams as a receiver, and later signed with the Kansas City Chiefs, but never played a regular NFL game, eventually playing in NFL Europe, the CFL, AFFL and UFL.
- Jason White, 2003, Oklahoma quarterback. He went undrafted in 2005. Eventually, he signed with the Tennessee Titans, but quit before he played a game for them, citing bad knees.
Has a freshman/sophomore won the Heisman?
Yes, two freshmen and four sophomores have won the Heisman Trophy. Both freshman winners were in the last decade: Johnny Manziel in 2012 and Jameis Winston in 2013. The sophomore winners have all been relatively recent, too: Lamar Jackson in 2016, Mark Ingram in 2009, Sam Bradford in 2008 and Tim Tebow in 2007.