Will Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota follow up his Heisman win with a long, successful NFL career like Roger Staubach, Tony Dorsett, or, uh, O.J. Simpson…or wind up on a list like this one?
Ty Detmer (Quarterback, 1990)
Detmer won the Heisman after his junior season at BYU, in which he passed for 5,188 yards, threw 41 touchdowns, and upset the top-ranked Miami Hurricanes. In his senior season, he had another stellar year and finished third in Heisman voting. However, listed at 6’0″ and 190 pounds, NFL teams thought Detmer was too small to be a pro quarterback, and he wasn’t selected until the ninth round of the 1992 draft. Detmer played seven games for the Green Bay Packers…over four years. He subsequently served as a backup QB with five other teams.
Rashaan Salaam (Running Back, 1994)
In his junior year, Salaam gave one of the best ever performances by a college running back, running for 2,000 yards and 24 touchdowns, leading Colorado to an 11-1 record and #3 ranking. He won the Heisman and decided to skip his senior year and enter the NFL, where the Chicago Bears drafted him in the first round. He had a big rookie season with 10 touchdowns, but injuries, fumbles, and drug use jeopardized his career. In 1999 he played in two games for the Cleveland Browns; in 2001, he played in the short-lived XFL for half a season.
Danny Wuerffel (Quarterback, 1996)
In 1996, Wuerffel won the Heisman Trophy en route to leading the University of Florida to a national championship. (He also won the Draddy Trophy, recognizing the nation’s top football player-scholar.) The New Orleans Saints drafted him in 1997, where he played occasionally as backup for three years, before being traded three times. His biggest pro highlight is probably being named MVP of the 2000 World Bowl, the title game of the NFL’s European league. After football, Wuerffel went to work for Desire Street Ministries, a faith-based charity aiming to help build post-hurricane New Orleans.
Jason White (Quarterback, 2003)
Playing for the University of Oklahoma, White injured a knee his freshman season, and his other knee his sophomore season, requiring surgery both times. It slowed him down, but he still managed to throw 40 touchdowns in 2003, which won him the Heisman Trophy and his team a spot in the national championship. The next season he finished third in voting and went to another title game. All those knee problems made NFL teams unwilling to take a risk; White was not drafted into the NFL. The Tennessee Titans signed him as a free agent in 2005, but White turned down the offer, citing his weak knees. Today he owns a shore store and A Store Divided, which sells both Oklahoma and Oklahoma State merchandise.
For more football trivia read Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader Sports Spectacular.