In 1991, Desmond Howard won the Heisman Trophy … and then became the Redskins’ first-round draft pick (fourth overall). You may not remember much else about Howard – he didn’t exactly distinguish himself here – but you probably remember that.
Anyway, in the two decades since, a surprising number of Top 5 finishers for the award have suited up for Washington. I say surprising because, well, it’s not like they did much to improve the team’s fortunes. Here, for your amusement, is the list:
● Won, 1996 – QB Danny Wuerffel (Florida). Beat out Iowa State RB Troy Davis and Arizona State QB Jake Plummer for the honor. In 2002, his only season with the Redskins, he went 2-2 as a starter under his old college coach, Steve Spurrier, posting a 70.9 passer rating and throwing for three TDs.
● 2nd, 2001 – QB Rex Grossman (Florida). Runner-up by a mere 72 points to Nebraska QB Eric Crouch. No fewer than 137 voters put Grossman first on their ballots.
● 2nd, 1994 – RB Ki-Jana Carter (Penn State). The bridesmaid behind Colorado RB Rashaan Salaam. Spent 2001 in Washington playing Marty Ball – and rushing for 308 yards and 3 TDs as a backup to Stephen Davis.
● 2nd, 1993 – QB Heath Shuler (Tennessee). Florida State QB Charlie Ward, bound for the NBA, ran away with the award. Shuler, meanwhile, proved to be a much more successful congressman than pro quarterback.
● 3rd, 2002 – RB Larry Johnson (Penn State). QBs Carson Palmer of Southern Cal and Brad Banks of Iowa finished 1-2. Johnson made a cameo appearance with the Redskins last season, carrying five times for two yards before Mike Shanahan released him.
● 3rd, 1995 – Wuerffel again. This time he was outpolled by Ohio State RB Eddie George and Nebraska QB Tommie Frazier.
● 5th, 1998 – QB Donovan McNabb (Syracuse). Texas RB Ricky Williams took home the trophy. As for McNabb, his 13-game stint as the Redskins’ quarterback last year was memorable mostly for the words “cardiovascular endurance.”
● 5th, 1992 – RB Reggie Brooks (Notre Dame). Look at it this way: Brooks fared better in the balloting than Washington State QB Drew Bledsoe, who was the first pick in the NFL draft four months later. (Miami QB Gino Torretta captured the prize.) Reggie had a fine rookie season, too, rushing for 1,063 yards and a 4.8-yard average in ’93. But his career fell off a cliff after that.
Note: Banks and QB Colt Brennan (third in 2007 – Tim Tebow’s year – as a senior at Hawaii) were under contract to the Redskins, but weren’t included because they never played in a regular-season game.
Other Redskins who placed in the top 10: WR Antwaan Randle El (6th, 2001/winner: Crouch), QB Jason Campbell (7th, 2004/winner: Southern Cal QB Matt Leinart), WR Santana Moss (7th, 2000/winner: Florida State QB Chris Weinke), RB Shaun Alexander (7th, 1999/winner: Wisconsin RB Ron Dayne), CB/WR Champ Bailey (7th, 1998/winner: Williams), LB LaVar Arrington (9th, 1999/winner: Dayne).