Northern Illinois and the Heisman

jordan lynch

Continuing our series before the Heisman ceremony, here’s a look at the brief Heisman history of Northern Illinois.

Northern Illinois

Finalists: Jordan Lynch (2013)

Player Year Position Place Points Winner
LeShon Johnson 1993 RB 6th 176 Charlie Ward
Jordan Lynch 2012 QB 7th 52 Johnny Manziel


NIU’s lone foray into the Heisman universe before Jordan Lynch came along happened back in 1993, when running back LeShon Johnson finished sixth in the voting. Johnson led the nation in rushing that year with 1,976 yards and 12 touchdowns. He appeared 115 ballots and collected five first-place votes and 176 total points to finish a shade behind fifth-place Glenn Foley of Boston College (180 points). Charlie Ward ran away with the trophy that year and the third finalist, David Palmer of Alabama, totaled just 292 points, so Johnson was decently close to getting to New York. His best region was the Midwest, naturally, where he finished third.

One other Huskie running back, Garrett Wolfe, flirted with the Heisman top 10 during the 2006 season, but did not actually end up there.

And now we have Jordan Lynch, who finished seventh in the Heisman in 2012 and who has a chance to notch the best-ever finish by a non-BCS-conference player in the BCS era. His 4,557 yards of total offense and 45 touchdowns are in the wheelhouse of what recent Heisman winners have produced and he’s likely to become the first-ever 2,000 passer/2,000 rusher when bowl season is over. There’s no doubt that Lynch is the greatest player in NIU history and his status as a finalist is a testament to that.

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Chris Huston, A.K.A. ‘The Heisman Pundit‘, is a Heisman voter and the creator and publisher of, a site dedicated to analysis of the Heisman Trophy and college football. Dubbed “the foremost authority on the Heisman” by Sports Illustrated, HP is regularly quoted or cited during football season in newspapers across the country. He is also a regular contributor on sports talk radio and television.

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One Response to Northern Illinois and the Heisman

  1. John D December 12, 2013 at 2:56 pm #

    “One other Husky running back…” Which really is “Huskie running back.”