Three of the four Heisman Trophy finalists in 2019 played at Ohio State, so it’s only appropriate that one of them won it.
Joe Burrow, who spent three seasons as a backup at OSU before grad transferring to LSU, won the 2019 Heisman by the widest margin in history.
Burrow finished with 94.4 percent of the first-place votes (841) and 2,608 total points, more than Reggie Bush’s since-vacated 2,541 points in 2005 and Troy Smith’s 2,540 points in 2006.
Current OSU defensive end Chase Young finished fourth in the voting, but also received the second-most first-place votes with 20.
Ohio State running back J.K. Dobbins finished sixth.
Young is the first defensive player to even earn an invitation to the Heisman ceremony since 2016, and just the ninth of 159 finalists since 1982.
Ohio State QB Justin Fields finished third.
Burrow put together a monster 2019 season to lead LSU to the College Football Playoff for the first time in program history.
He completed 77.9 percent of his passes this year for 4,715 yards and 48 touchdowns against just six interceptions.
He also rushed for 289 yards and three scores.
One of his best performances this season came in a showdown with Alabama when he went 31-for-39 for 393 yards and three touchdowns.
Young earned his spot in New York with an absolutely dominating performance all year. He came within breaking the OSU single-season sack record before the end of October, tying the single-game record with four sacks against Wisconsin in the regular season.
He returned from a two-game suspension to notch three sacks against Penn State to break the single-season record, and has forced seven fumbles on the season.
Fields, meanwhile, has put up a similarly ludicrous stat line this year. The transfer from Georgia is averaging 9.6 yards per pass attempt, and has thrown for 40 touchdowns against just one interception. Fields has also run for 471 yards and 10 scores. His total of 50 touchdowns accounted for puts him well within striking range of Dwayne Haskins’ record of 54, set just last year.
Haskins, incidentally, was also a Heisman finalist, meaning that OSU head coach Ryan Day has coached three Heisman finalist quarterbacks in just the last two years.
Dobbins has rushed for 1,829 yards and 20 touchdowns this season.
He is just 99 yards away from breaking Eddie George’s OSU single-season record of 1,927 rushing yards, set in his Heisman-winning season of 1995.
Burrow spent three years as a Buckeye, redshirting as a true freshman in 2015, and then playing as a backup to J.T. Barrett in 2016 and 2017.
He was locked in a battle for the second-string job with Dwayne Haskins during 2017 fall camp when he broke a bone in his hand just over a week before the season-opener. He had to sit out for a month.
By the time he got back on the practice field, Haskins was entrenched as the backup. That meant Haskins, not Burrow, was the one to come off the bench when Barrett suffered a knee injury at Michigan that fall.
Following the Cotton Bowl win over USC, Burrow reflected on what he called a “pretty devastating” injury, and said “It was a pretty low moment for me.”
Looking ahead to 2018 spring practice, Burrow had a specific goal in mind.
“I’ve been thinking about that for 15 years, being the starting quarterback somewhere. The moment is here for someone to come and grab it. We’ll see what happens.”
That word “somewhere” was telling. Burrow enjoyed being a Buckeye, but wanted to be a starter. If that was at Ohio State, great. If not, he wanted to start somewhere.
The following spring ended with Burrow locked in a tight battle for the starting position. After the 2018 Spring Game, Burrow again was candid about the fact that he could leave.
“Now some decisions have to be made. You have to step back and evaluate everything,” he said.
He graduated from Ohio State the following month and decided to move on.
Haskins would spend that year rewriting the OSU record books en route to a third-place finish in the Heisman race and a 13-1 Rose Bowl championship season.
Now, while he is off to the NFL, Burrow is trying to do one better. He has not only been a Heisman finalist, but won the trophy. And he’s two wins away from capping an unbeaten national championship season.
And there’s a chance that Ohio State could keep him from doing that.
Burrow will face Oklahoma, and fellow Heisman finalist Jalen Hurts in the 2019 Peach Bowl.
Young and Fields will battle Clemson in the 2019 Fiesta Bowl.
If both teams win, they would meet in the national title game in New Orleans on January 13.