Who's the Last Wide Receiver to Win the Heisman Trophy?

USC’s Caleb Williams was named the most recent recipient of the Heisman Trophy, joining a long list of quarterbacks to receive the award. While it may seem like a quarterback is announced as the winner every year, that isn’t the case. Running backs have also been named recipients of the award, but there haven’t been many wide receivers named the Heisman winner in recent memory.

Let’s take a closer look.

Who’s the Last Wide Receiver to Win the Heisman Trophy?

You don’t have to go back too far to find the most recent wide receiver to win the award. Alabama’s DeVonta Smith won the 2020 Heisman Trophy, posting an incredible season with 117 receptions for 1,856 receiving yards and 23 touchdowns. 

The Crimson Tide was dominant in 2020, going a perfect 13-0 en route to a College Football National Championship. The two playoff games were not particularly close, either. A 31-14 domination of Notre Dame in the Rose Bowl was followed by a 52-24 shellacking of Ohio State in the National Championship. Nick Saban’s squad wouldn’t take “no” for an answer in an impressive season.

It was an interesting Heisman Trophy discussion in 2020 because there was no runaway winner throughout the regular season. Once it became clear that Alabama was a dominant force, the debate was about which offensive skill player would earn the nomination. 

After a remarkable year, Quarterback Mac Jones had plenty of support, throwing for 4,500 yards and 41 touchdowns with just four interceptions. Ultimately, Jones would finish third in the Heisman voting, but he did receive 138 first-place votes. Running back Najee Harris was also in the discussion after posting more scrimmage yards (1.891) and touchdowns (30) than Smith. Harris would end up in fifth place for the Heisman award.

You don’t often see three players from the same team within the top five of the Heisman voting. Smith stood out among the trio and received 447 first-place votes to claim the first Heisman trophy by a receiver in nearly three decades.

The last receiver to win the Heisman before Smith? That would be Michigan’s Desmond Howard in 1991. It’s a true rarity for a player at the position to win the award, as there have been just four wide receivers all-time to be named Heisman. The others? Nebraska’s Johnny Rodgers in 1972 and Notre Dame’s Tim Brown in 1987.