So what is it about Pennsylvania and Heisman Trophy winners? Football roots run deep in the state, at all levels — high school, college, up through the NFL with the Pittsburgh Steelers and Philadelphia Eagles.
Western Pennsylvania has earned the moniker the “Cradle of Quarterbacks” — Dan Marino, Joe Namath, Joe Montana, Johnny Unitas, Jim Kelly and George Blanda, to name a few.
Passion for football seems to flow through everyone born and raised there, with intense competition and rivalries across the state. It’s a breeding ground for college and the pros. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, at the start of the NFL last season Pennsylvania was seventh among U.S. states with the most NFL players (61, tied with North Carolina. Florida was No. 1 at 192).
As the NCAA college football season ramps up, we wanted to look at trends detailing where Heisman winners were born in the U.S., to see if it shows who might have an outside chance at taking the 2022 Heisman Trophy. PennStakes.com went to Heisman.com to look at every winner, from the first in 1935 to the present.
According to the birth state of winners, Pennsylvania sits at No. 4, with seven Heisman winners, including last year’s winner, Alabama quarterback Bryce Young, who was born in Philadelphia but grew up in California.
California was the top state with the most Heisman winners, at 13. Ohio was next with 10, following by Texas with nine.
Top 10 States Where Heisman Winners Were Born
Alabama’s Young Looking to Repeat
This year there’s a lot of talk about Young, a leading contender for the prestigious award again this year. Ten of the past 12 Heisman winners have been quarterbacks. So there’s that.
Young has his work cut out for him if he intends on becoming the first Heisman Trophy winner to repeat since Archie Griffin in 1974-75.
In many corners Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud, who finished fourth in Heisman voting last year, is the odds-on favorite in Pennsylvania sports betting. Last year, as a freshman, Stroud threw for 4,435 yards, 44 touchdowns and only six interceptions. Ohio State was the top offense in the country and beat Utah in the Rose Bowl.
Last season Young threw for 4,872 yards, with 47 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Alabama was voted No. 1 in the preseason USA Today coaches’ poll and Associated Press media poll in August, with Ohio State second and defending national champion Georgia third in both polls.
Cappelletti, Dorsett from PA
Other winners from Pennsylvania include John Cappelletti, who in 1973 won Penn State's first Heisman by helping the Nittany Lions to a perfect 12-0 season and No. 5 ranking in both of the major polls. Cappelletti is from the Philadelphia area, born in Upper Darby. He dedicated his Heisman to his brother, Joey, who had leukemia. The story became a movie, Something for Joey.
Hall of Fame running back Tony Dorsett is also from Pennsylvania, having been born in Rochester, outside of Pittsburgh, and playing at Pitt before his Dallas Cowboys career.
Leading 2022 Heisman Contenders
Odds courtesy of BetMGM Pennsylvania.