This Heismandment sets the statistical benchmarks in order to be considered a worthy candidate. These benchmarks are consistently shifting as football evolves.
Basically, a running back that is not from a traditional power will need to exceed the 2,000 yard barrier just to have a chance (unless he is going for the NCAA career rushing record or some other major milestone). A back from a school like Michigan or Texas will generally qualify with at least 1,700 yards. In both cases, at least 15 touchdowns are in order.
All running back winners since Bo Jackson–with the exception of Mark Ingram, who won in the closest vote in Heisman history–have met these criterion.
If you are a passing quarterback on a traditional power or a national title contender, you need to pass for at least 3,000 yards, complete at least 60% of your passes and have at least a 2-1 TD to INT ratio; also at least 20 TD passes and a pass efficiency rating of 135 or better.
If you are a passing quarterback on a non-traditional power or a team not contending for a title, you need to put up crazy numbers, all while not being perceived as a product of your team’s system.
Of course, the last quarterback to win the Heisman who wasn’t on a traditional power or a national title contender was Ty Detmer in 1990 and, before him, Andre Ware in 1989. And they threw for some crazy numbers.
Only one passing quarterback since Vinny Testaverde in 1986 has failed to throw for 3,000 yards while still winning the Heisman (Troy Smith in 2006).
A running quarterback (by which I mean a QB who runs for more yards than he passes), you must also be a decent–though not great passer–and be on a national title contender.
Eric Crouch is the only modern running quarterback to win the Heisman. It was his improvement as a passer and his leading Nebraska to the BCS title game that garnered him the award.
If you are a multi-threat athlete, you can only win if you produce spectacular plays on special teams, specifically kick and punt returns.
Basically, few remember Charles Woodson’s interceptions. Most remember his punt return for a touchdown against Ohio State. Few remember Desmond Howard’s 100-yard receiving games. Most remember his punt return where he struck the pose. And if it wasn’t for two punt returns against Michigan State, Tim Brown would have been considered as just another very good receiver. Finally, it was a punt return against Oklahoma that clinched the award for Johnny Rodgers (even if it did come in 1971, the year BEFORE he won the Heisman).