Eddie George Wins Heisman Trophy
Eddie George captured Ohio State University's sixth Heisman Trophy.
At 6-foot 3-inches George averaged 152.2 yards per game and scored 23 touchdowns. George rushed for over 100 yards in 11 straight games after gaining 99 in the Kickoff Classic against Boston College. He accomplished all of these feats while rarely playing more than three quarters. George's finest game was at home, in Ohio Stadium, against a tough Illinois defense, which was ranked second in the Big Ten against the run. During the 41-3 romp, the Buckeye rushed for 314 yards and scored three touchdowns, two rushing and one receiving. When his coach, John Cooper, was asked what separated Eddie George from every other player he has coached, Cooper replied, "I've been coaching 33 years and this young man has got the best work ethic of any football player I've been around. Obviously he's a great football player, but this award could not go to a finer person, both on the field and off the field, than Eddie George." George was selected by the Houston Oilers in the first round of the 1996 NFL Draft with the 14th overall pick Eddie was named to the Pro-Bowl in 1997, 1998 and 1999.
Eddie George became the fifth Ohio State player to win the Heisman as he captured three regions, the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and Midwest while Tommie Frazier of Nebraska finished in first in the Southwest and Far West. Danny Wuerffel of Florida won the South. This was Ohio State's sixth Heisman Trophy. Archie Griffin, the only two-time Heisman Trophy Winner, won in 1974 and '75.
Edward Nathan George, Jr. (born September 24, 1973) is a former American football running back in the National Football League. He played for the Tennessee Titans both in Tennessee and in Houston when the franchise was known as the Houston Oilers, and spent his final season with the Dallas Cowboys. He is best known for his career with the Titans and as a Heisman Trophy winner at Ohio State University in 1995.
As a freshman running back for the Buckeyes, George was an instant contributor. He scored 3 rushing touchdowns in a win over Syracuse University. However, he suffered a major setback in a game against the University of Illinois. In that game, George fumbled at Illinois' 4-yard line that was returned 96 yards for a touchdown. Later in the game, with Ohio State leading by 2 points in the final quarter, George fumbled again, this time on Illinois' 1-yard line. Illinois recovered the fumble and drove for the game winning touchdown.
Before the Illinois game, George had carried the ball 25 times and scored 5 touchdowns, but for the rest of the season, he had only 12 more rushing attempts and didn't score once. In the following season, George was used as the team's third string running back, behind Raymont Harris. He carried the ball only 42 times, mostly when Ohio State had a large lead late in games. However, as a junior, George became the team's starting running back and went on to rush for 1,442 yards and 12 touchdowns.
As a senior in the 1995 season, George rushed for a school record 1,927 yards and 24 touchdowns, an average of 152.2 yards per game. One of his best performances of the year was in a 45-26 win over the University of Notre Dame, where he rushed for 207 yards, his third 200 yard game of the season. He also rushed for a school-record 314 yards and scored 3 touchdowns in OSU's victory over Illinois. In the 3 years since committing his 2 fumbles in the Illinois game as a freshman, George had over 600 rushing attempts and fumbled only 6 times. Ohio State finished the season with an 10-2 record and George won the Heisman Trophy in the closest vote in the history of the award at the time, beating University of Nebraska's Tommie Frazier by 264 ballots. George lost his last two games as a Buckeye. Tim Biakabutuka showed him up by going off for a 313-yard rushing effort, which helped Michigan upset the previously-undefeated Buckeyes. Then the University of Tennessee Volunteers won 14-20 in the Florida Citrus Bowl. George's ineffectiveness was a key to the Vols victory. Following the season, he was the first-round draft selection of the Houston Oilers (now the Tennessee Titans). George left Ohio State second in school history in career rushing yards (3,768) and third in rushing touchdowns (44).
Eddie George has become a household name in the National Football League following four successful years at Ohio State. George used his size and speed to run his way into the Ohio State record books, eventually leading up winning the Heisman Trophy, the sixth for the storied football program, after his senior campaign in 1995. He accumulated numerous honors during his Heisman year. Today, his No. 27 will be retired.
"I am elated (about having my number retired)," George said. "To be in the same class as Archie Griffin and the other Heisman winners like Les Horvath (1944), Vic (Janowicz in 1950) and (Howard) Cassady (1955) is a tremendous honor. I have received many honors both in college and professionally and this ranks very high on the list."
George, a native of Philadelphia, Pa., played prep ball at Fork Union Military Academy (Va.) and came to Ohio State with the desire to always have the ball in his hands and control the game. Numerous colleges recruited him, but with the intention of turning George into a linebacker, not a running back.
"Growing up, I knew I wanted the ball in my hands and be in a position to carry the ball as much as possible," George said. "I wanted to be in control. I didn't want to change and that is why I chose Ohio State. They gave me a chance to run the ball."
John Cooper, former Buckeye head coach, was the man that offered George the chance to lead the Buckeyes with the ball in his hands.
"Not many colleges recruited him as a running back," Cooper said. "They all figured he would make a great linebacker. He came here focused and with the goal of becoming a Heisman winner and he did just that."
George's focus was brought to its limits as a freshman when many of the Buckeye faithful questioned why he came to Columbus. George was afforded the opportunity to lead the ground attack against Illinois as a true freshman. His first game against the Illini did not go according to plan. George fumbled twice inside the 5-yard line and the first miscue resulted in a 96-yard return for a touchdown to give Illinois a 7-0 lead. On the day, George carried the ball six times for -7 yards rushing. He scored a touchdown but the Buckeyes fell to the visiting Illini, 18-16.
"We gave him the chance to play against Illinois as a true freshman and he had a tough game," Cooper said. "He fumbled twice and that led to us losing the game. The fans booed Eddie for his mistakes, but he blocked it out and continued to work hard and improve."
George learned from his mistakes and his career is proof.
"Reflecting back, the game against Illinois (freshman year) was pivotal," George said. "I was known for the longest time as the guy who fumbled twice inside the five (yard line). People said I couldn't make it here and I should transfer out. I believed in myself and continued to work hard."
His dedication never wavered and he continued to improve. Defenses knew he was talented. As a senior, he broke loose and demonstrated the level of talent he possessed. George rushed for 1,927 yards in 1995, a school record for a single season, and scampered into the endzone 24 times, the second most for a year of action.