Troy Davis, despite his small stature, ran for consecutive 2,000 yard seasons in 1995 and 1996. Every single player on the defense knew that Troy was getting the ball almost every play, and he still made them pay.
After finishing 5th in the Heisman voting in 1995, the hype around Troy’s junior season was, and still is, arguably the most excited Cyclone fans have ever been about an individual player heading into the season.
Following the 1996 season, Troy had earned a trip to New York, alongside Ohio State left tackle Orlando Pace, Florida QB Danny Wuerffel, and Arizona State QB Jake Plummer.
In case you didn’t know, here’s how Heisman voting works today:
“Representatives from each of the six regions appoint state representatives, who are then given the responsibility of selecting the voters within their particular state. The amount of votes that a particular state is allotted depends on the size of the state and the amount of media outlets within that state. Larger states such as California and Texas will naturally have more votes than smaller states such as Vermont and Delaware.” - Heisman.com
In 1996, there were just four voting regions, of which Troy won three. However, he lost badly in the south region to eventual winner Danny Wuerffel. Most media outlets in the south cited the poor record Iowa State posted that year as their reason not to give him the first place vote, but that theory doesn’t hold much water when you look at the fact that Troy won every single region besides the south, where Danny Wuerffel played. It’s a pretty safe assumption that voters wanted to keep the trophy either in the South, or at a blue blood program.
Similar shenanigans happened in the race for the Doak Walker Award, where the award was given to Texas Tech’s Byron Hanspard. Once again, voters cited Iowa State’s poor record as the reason for not giving Troy the vote. Doak Walker played at SMU in Dallas, and two of the first four winners played in the state of Texas, so there’s reasonable doubt to be placed in the honesty of the voters.
Troy Davis will always have his placed cemented in the hearts of Cyclone fans, but he deserved to be remembered among the all-time greats as a winner of the Heisman trophy.