George carries Heisman voting Ohio State RB beats QBs Frazier, Wuerffel

THE BALTIMORE SUN

NEW YORK -- One of the first things Ohio State tailback Eddie George did when he got over the shock of winning the 61st annual Heisman Trophy award last night was walk through the audience at the Downtown Athletic Club and hug his mother, Donna.

She had been his inspiration from the time he started playing organized football. When George was 8 years old, growing up in suburban Philadelphia, he told his mother his dream was to someday win the sport's most prestigious award. She couldn't help but remember that moment and others like it as she took a seat at the podium in the press room next to her baby.

"The goal has been accomplished," she said. "When I saw him up there, I saw the 5-year-old who was used to run up and down the street, asking me, 'Mom, can I play football?' I saw an 11-year-old the first time he carried a football. And I saw the man he's become today."

Eddie George transformed himself from a good Big Ten running back to the best player in the country this year, rushing for a school-record 1,826 yards, averaging 6.0 yards per carry and scoring a Division I-A leading 24 touchdowns for an 11-1 Big Ten team that is ranked fourth in the country.

George is Ohio State's fifth Heisman winner, following Les Horvath in 1944, Vic Janowicz in 1950, Hopalong Cassady in 1955 and Archie Griffin, who won back-to-back awards in 1974 and '75.

The 6-foot-3, 230-pound senior admitted to being on edge the night before the announcement and may have been overwhelmed when his name was announced on ESPN.

"When they were about to announce it, I could feel the knot in my tie begin to tighten," he said. "It seemed to take forever."

But when the voting was released, he was an easy winner. George received 268 first-place votes and 1,460 total points to finish 264 points ahead of quarterback Tommie Frazier of top-ranked Nebraska, who had 218 first-place votes and 1,196 points. Florida quarterback Danny Wuerffel -- who set an NCAA record for passing efficiency -- was third with 185 first-place votes and 987 points. Northwestern tailback Darnell Autry and Iowa State tailback Troy Davis finished fourth and fifth, respectively.

"I thought it would be closer," George said. "ESPN and all the national media were all talking about this being the closest race ever. I guess that was to just build up the suspense."

Many of the voters chose to hold on to their ballots until after Florida played Arkansas in the Dec. 3 Southeastern Conference championship game. The firm that tabulates the ballots said 49 percent of the 921 eligible electors waited until the final week to vote.

Ohio State coach John Cooper said: "The closer it came to the announcement, I felt real confident. Nobody out of that five [finalists] deserved it more. Eddie did it all year long against the toughest competition in this country. The only game he didn't have 100 yards was our opener against Boston College. He had 99 and I took him out."

George rushed for 100 or more yards in the next 11 games, with 212 against Washington, 207 against Notre Dame and 314 against Illinois. All his games were on TV in the Northeast corridor, which has become Big Ten country since Penn State joined that conference three years ago. The voters in that region were willing to overlook that he had only 104 yards in 21 carries in the Buckeyes' 31-23 loss to Michigan in Ann Arbor in the final game of the season.

George won the balloting in both the Northeast and the Mid-Atlantic regions. He out-polled Frazier 237-195 in the Northeast and out-polled Wuerffel 261-209 in the Mid-Atlantic. He also dominated the Midwest, receiving 292 points to 157 for Frazier.

Heisman voting

Player .. .. .. .. .1st .. .. ..2nd .. ..3rd .. ..Tot

E. George .. .. .. .268 .. .. ..248 .. ..160 ...1,460

RB, Ohio State

T. Frazier .. .. ...218 .. .. ..192 .. ..158 ...1,196

QB, Nebraska

D. Wuerffel .. .. ..185 .. .. ..152 .. ..128 .. ..987

QB, Florida

D. Autry .. .. .. ...87 .. .. ...78 .. ..118 .. ..535

RB, Northwestern

T. Davis .. .. .. ...41 .. .. ...80 .. ..119 .. ..402

RB, Iowa State

P. Manning .. .. .. .10 .. .. ...21 .. ...37 .. ..109

QB, Tennessee

K. Johnson .. .. .. ..9 .. .. ...10 .. ...12 .. ...59

WR, USC

T. Biakabutuka .. .. .1 .. .. .. 11 .. .. .6 .. ...31

RB, Michigan

W. Dunn .. .. .. .. ..2 .. .. .. .3 .. ...17 .. ...29

RB, Florida State

B. Hoying .. .. .. ...0 .. .. .. .9 .. ...10 .. ...28

QB, Ohio State

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