LSU quarterback Joe Burrow wins 2019 Heisman Trophy by record-setting margin
NEW YORK — LSU quarterback Joe Burrow won the 2019 Heisman Trophy by the largest margin in the award's history, cementing his place in program and SEC lore after one of the most impressive seasons by a passer in the history of the sport.
"This is what kids dream of doing," Burrow said. "I envisioned myself on that stage and being the quarterback of the No. 1 team in the country playing for the national championship. So this entire season has been a dream come true for me."
Burrow earned a first-place vote on 841 of 927 ballots, nearing the record of 855 first-place votes set by Southern California running back O.J. Simpson in 1968, and his 1,846-point margin of victory breaks Simpson's record of 1,750. He received 41 second-place votes and three third-place votes for a total of 2,608 points.
The senior set another three Heisman records. Burrow earned 93.8% of possible points available, breaking the mark of 91.6% set by Ohio State quarterback Troy Smith in 2006, and was picked first on 90.7% of all ballots, breaking Smith's record of 86.7%. He was named on 95.5% of all ballots, narrowly edging the previous record of 95.2% set by Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota in 2014.
"It goes to show the kind of year he’s had," LSU coach Ed Orgeron said. "He had a great year and I think the whole country noticed it. So we’re very proud that he won by such a wide margin."
Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts finished second (762 points), Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields finished third (747) and Ohio State defensive end Chase Young finished fourth (643). Ohio State is the first program since Oklahoma in 2004 to have teammates finish in the top four of the Heisman voting.
Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor (189 points), Ohio State running back J.K. Dobbins (114), Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence (88), Oklahoma State running back Chuba Hubbard (68), Clemson running back Travis Etienne (25) and Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (24) rounded out the top 10.
Burrow's Heisman win has been a foregone conclusion since early November, when he keyed LSU's 46-41 win at rival Alabama — the Tigers' first win in the series since 2011 — by completing 31 of 39 attempts for 393 yards and three touchdowns without an interception. He only broadened his lead in the weeks since, capping the Tigers' unbeaten season with another four touchdowns against Georgia in the SEC championship game. LSU will enter the postseason as the top seed in the College Football Playoff.
As the engine behind LSU's revitalized offense, Burrow rewrote the school and conference record book and is on pace to set a Bowl Subdivision record for completion percentage.
"I don’t care about the numbers," said Burrow. "I care about the wins. We’re 13-0 and that’s all that matters."
His numbers during the regular season almost defy imagination: Burrow has set LSU and SEC marks for passing yards (4,715) and passing touchdowns (48), and school records for completions (342) and total offense (5,004). He currently holds the LSU record for passing yards per game (362.7) and total offense per game (384.9), and his 77.9 completion percentage is on pace to break the NCAA record set by Texas quarterback Colt McCoy in 2008.
Blessed with a gifted supporting cast that includes two USA TODAY Sports All-America selections in wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase and running back Clyde-Edwards Helaire, Burrow threw for at least 278 yards in every game, exceeding the 300-yard mark in every game but two; completed at least 71.1% of his passes in every game; and threw for multiple touchdowns in every game but one, with seven games of four or more touchdowns.
"His ability to process is like no other player I’ve ever seen. He’s the whole package," Orgeron said. "He has a great heart and great grit. And that’s what makes him the best player in America."
The lopsided win belies Burrow's off-the-radar journey to the Heisman.
"It’s been a long, winding one," Burrow said. "There’s still one chapter to be written."
Coming out of Athens, Ohio, where his father was the defensive coordinator at Ohio University, Burrow was a four-star recruit and the state's Gatorade Player of the Year. He signed with Ohio State, wore a redshirt as a true freshman and spent the following two seasons as a backup to multiple-year starter J.T. Barrett, playing in 10 games with 39 pass attempts in mop-up duty.
With Dwayne Haskins entrenched as Barrett's replacement heading out of the 2017 season, Burrow took advantage of the NCAA's graduate-transfer rule to join LSU with immediate eligibility — joining a program with a long history of success but a troubled recent track record of quarterback play and development.
As the starter in 2018, he led LSU to a 10-3 record and became the first quarterback in program history to throw for at least 2,500 yards and rush for at least 350 yards in the same season. Yet he was ranked in the bottom half of the SEC among starting quarterbacks in the key statistics: Burrow ranked seventh in passing yards per game, tied for 10th in touchdowns and 11th in completion percentage.
"I kept faith in myself the whole time," he said. "I knew what kind of work I put in for 10 years."
As with LSU as a whole, Burrow was the beneficiary of Orgeron's decision this past offseason to completely overhaul the Tigers' tired offensive scheme by hiring passing game coordinator Joe Brady, who won the Broyles Award as the nation's top assistant coach.
Not even listed by many oddsmakers as a preseason candidate for the Heisman, Burrow surged past more heralded quarterback candidates — namely Tagovailoa and Lawrence — to become the second player in program history to win the award after Billy Cannon in 1959.
No. 1 LSU will meet No. 4 Oklahoma in a national semifinal at the Peach Bowl on Dec. 28 as the Tigers search for their third national championship since 2003 and fourth overall. No Heisman-winning quarterback has won the national championship during the playoff era, though USC's Matt Leinart (2004), Auburn's Cam Newton (2010) and Florida State's Jameis Winston (2013) did so under the Bowl Championship Series format.
"After tonight, it’s go time," Burrow said. "I’m ready to go back to Baton Rouge and start practice on Monday."
FINAL VOTING TOTALS