No school has won more Heisman Trophies than the USC Football team. But it could’ve been more, with several other Trojans nearly taking home the honor.
Seven times a USC football player has won the Heisman Trophy, a mark shared with Notre Dame and Ohio State. Mike Garrett started it all in 1965, and most recently, Reggie Bush heard his name called in 2005, before he ultimately forfeited the award under his own volition five years later.
Ever year since, the Trojans have consistently had players propped up as a Heisman candidate. From John David Booty to Matt Barkley, Cody Kessler and Sam Darnold, USC knows preseason hype like no other.
Marqise Lee and Adoree’ Jackson just missed trips to New York, but what about the players who made a serious run at it? Here’s a look at the eight times a Trojan came close…
Jon Arnett (1956)
The Trojans had a powerful three-pronged rushing attack in 1956. While the backfield featured C.R. Roberts, who set the school mark for rushing yards in a game with 252 against Texas, and 500-yard rusher Ernie Zampese, returning All-American Jon Arnett was the star.
‘Jaguar Jon’ entered the year as the top player in the West and made due, eclipsing the 100-yard mark four times in five games, including a career-high 182 yards at Wisconsin early October.
But his season was cut short due to staggered sanctions levied on USC by the Pacific Coast Conference, requiring two group of players to alternate five-game suspensions. Arnett, quarterback Frank Hall and others sat out the final half of the season, while lineman Dick Enright headlined a handful of Trojans finally eligible to play.
The quirky development derailed Arnett’s Heisman Trophy bid and Notre Dame’s Paul Hornung took the honor as arguably the most undeserving winner of all-time.
“I had gotten my picture taken for all the magazines in the preseason,” Arnett told Scout’s Scott Downer in 2005. “I think it was a forgone conclusion. Paul Hornung ended up winning it [and] Notre Dame had a 2-9 record that year. I think if USC had had any kind of record I would have had a chance”.
Arnett finished 10th in the voting despite playing in just five games, which in a bizarre way, could be the most impressive Top 10 finish in school history.