Joe Burrow is the 2019 Heisman Trophy winner. He is the first LSU player to do so since 1959. The late Billy Cannon is the only other Tigers player to win it. Burrow received the highest percentage of first place votes in Heisman history, with 90%. He had 841 first place votes. Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts finished second in the balloting. He had 12 first place votes.
In the middle of 2018, Burrow embarked on an unknown journey. He had already completed spring practices in Ohio State. Instead of conceding that he would not start for his team that season, he looked for opportunity elsewhere. He decided to transfer from Columbus to LSU. Surprisingly, he beat out junior Justin McMillan, sophomore Myles Brennan and redshirt freshman Lowell Narcisse in fall camp. What resulted from that decision looks like a script for a feel-good movie in the same vein as Rudy.
Burrow Wins The Heisman
No Average Joe
Burrow has turned in remarkable performances this season. He leads the Football Bowl Subdivision in completion percentage (77.9) and passing touchdowns (48). His passing yards (4,715) ranks second nationwide. He is tied for third in terms of yards per attempt. His numbers rank him among the greatest quarterbacks during the season, if not proving his superiority over all others.
The latest inductee into the Heisman fraternity displayed excellence on a consistent basis throughout the season. Burrow exceeded 275 passing yards in every game and more than 300 in eleven of those. He threw 48 touchdowns with only six interceptions. He completed 77.9 percent of his passes for the season with no game below 71 percent. Additionally, he rushed for 289 yards and three touchdowns while being held to negative rushing yards (due to sacks) in only two games. He served as a key component for the transformation of a notoriously lackluster offense for over a decade.
Early Glimpses Of Future Greatness
Burrow had an air of confidence surrounding him on the practice field during fall camp with his new teammates. He brought that with him into the 2018 season-opener against Miami in Jerry World. Although Nick Brossette turned in the huge numbers and highlights, Burrow showed he was capable of leading the offense as LSU dominated the Hurricanes.
A preview of what Burrow could accomplish this season was on display in the Fiesta Bowl at the end 2018 at LSU. After throwing an interception, then being blind-side sacked to the turf, he remained stunned on all fours. The defensive back from Central Florida returned the pass for a pick-six interception. The Tigers trailed 14-3 and looked like they were on the verge of being routed by the undefeated Knights. Instead, Burrow led LSU on three straight drives of more than 60 yards into the end zone. The Tigers never relinquished the advantage then went on to score 40 points for a victory.
Burrow’s first Heisman-worthy moment of the current season occurred in Austin in week two. As LSU clung to a 37-31 lead with 2:36 remaining in the fourth quarter, the Tigers faced third down and 17 yards at their 39 yard line. He took the snap from center then a few steps toward the line of scrimmage inside a collapsing pocket. His pass landed in the hands of Jordan Jefferson who was cutting across the field, along the line to gain for a first down. Jefferson raced down the sideline into the end zone. Burrow gave the crowd at D.K. Royal Stadium a parade-wave in the waning moments of LSU’s win over the Longhorns.
LSU hosted a top-ten showdown with Florida in the middle of October. In the first half, Burrow piloted the Tigers to the end zone on three consecutive possessions. After each one, the Gators replied with a touchdown. After Florida scored a go-ahead touchdown to open the second half, Burrow took charge. He guided LSU to three touchdowns during four possessions while completing 21 of 24 passes for 293 yards and three touchdowns.
Burrow’s first great accomplishment of his award-winning season occurred in Tuscaloosa. He and his team entered Bryant-Denny Stadium on a mission: end the eight-game losing streak to Alabama. He picked apart the Crimson Tide’s secondary by completing 31 of 39 passing attempts for 393 yards and three touchdowns. On a critical third down with less than two minutes left in the fourth quarter, he took the initiative. He ran a quarterback keeper for eighteen yards and a first down, part of his 64 rushing yards on 14 carries. Clyde Edwards-Helaire blasted into the end zone on the next play for the decisive score. If he had done nothing else after this victory, he would have still endeared himself forever to LSU’s faithful. He helped to sweep away the dark cloud that had hung over the football program since January 9, 2012.
After defeating Alabama, Burrow indicated that he and his teammates had higher goals. They insisted that defeating Alabama served as means to an end, not the entire goal of the season. They dispatched the final three opponents to head to the SEC Championship Game.
The grand stage of the Southeastern Conference Championship Game served as Burrow’s masterpiece. Joe Cool torched the second highest rated defense in the country, completing 28 of 38 pass attempts for 349 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions. He rushed 11 times for 41 yards. He even completed a pass to himself after catching his deflected pass then rumbled 16 yards for a first down.
The crowning jewel in this unofficial Heisman coronation in Atlanta occurred on a first down from LSU’s 20 yard line late in the third quarter. After scrambling to and fro for nine seconds, avoiding the Bulldogs’ defensive linemen, he hurled a pass to Justin Jefferson 35 yards downfield. Jefferson snagged the pass then ran diagonally across the field. A defender tackled him nine yards short of the endzone. The remarkable escape set up the first of two touchdowns as LSU scored 20 points in the second half.
Collecting Hardware And Titles
Burrow had received multiple awards already. He was dubbed “Most Valuable Player” of the SEC Championship Game. He was voted as first-team quarterback on the coaches’ All-SEC team. The Associated Press chose him as SEC Player of the Year and College Football Player of the Year. No doubt that others have and will inundate him over the course of December.
He will need plenty of shelf space to display his trophies. He had already collected the Davey O’Brien Quarterback Award, Maxwell Award and Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award. Of course, the centerpiece of his numerous commendations will be that famously heavy statue of a stiff-armed ball-carrier. The obvious question is whether he will hoist another trophy in the Superdome on the evening of January 13.