By Tyler Alley
The Heisman trophy is the highest individual athletic honor in college football, but Baylor nation celebrates as a group tonight as junior quarterback Robert Griffin III just won the school’s first in history.
Griffin received 1,687 points, beating out Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck (1407), Alabama running back Trent Richardson, Wisconsin running back Montee Ball and LSU cornerback Tyrann Mathieu.
Griffin joins a group, known as the “Heisman fraternity,” that includes some of the greatest names in football history, including Roger Staubach, Barry Sanders, Earl Campbell and other historic football players.
Griffin first gained national Heisman attention after Baylor’s opening game of the season, when the Bears defeated then-No. 14 TCU in a dramatic 50-48 game. Griffin opened the year with 359 passing yards, five touchdown passes and a big third-down reception on a trick play during what proved to be the game-winning field goal drive.
In what has come to be known as Griffin’s Heisman moment, he threw for 479 yards and four touchdowns against then-No. 5 Oklahoma, including the game-winning 34-yard touchdown pass to junior receiver Terrance Williams with 8 seconds left.
In Baylor’s final game of the year, Griffin threw for 320 yards and had four total touchdowns against Texas, the highest-ranked defense in the Big 12. After the game, Griffin said he believed Baylor had just earned its first Heisman Trophy.
For the season, Griffin completed 74 percent of his throws for 3,998 passing yards, with 36 touchdowns and just six interceptions, earning him the Davey O’Brien Award for best quarterback in the nation. He also ran for 644 yards and nine touchdowns this season.
Griffin was named Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year by the Associated Press as well as first-team All Big-12, and CBSSports.com placed him on its first-team All-American list.
Griffin has 10,070 passing yards in his career at Baylor, making him the third player in Football Bowl Subdivsion (FBS) history with 10,000 passing yards and 2,000 rushing yards in a career. He owns or shares 46 Baylor single-game, single-season or career records. He set the NCAA record for most attempts without an interception to start a career back in 2008. Griffin threw for 2,091 yards and 15 touchdowns along with 843 rushing yards and 13 rushing touchdowns in his freshman year.
After having to sit out most of the 2009 season with a knee injury and taking a medical redshirt, Griffin came back in 2010 and threw for 3,501 yards and 22 touchdowns, along with 635 rushing yards and eight touchdowns. He set the record for longest play in Baylor history with a 94-yard passing touchdown. His efforts led the Bears to a 7-5 record and their first bowl appearance in 16 years.
Griffin was named to the 2011 AllState AFCA Good Works team for his contributions to the Waco community.