June 23, 2024
Marcus Allen of the USC Trojans, poses with the coveted Heisman Trophy

Marcus Allen poses with the Heisman Trophy on Dec. 6, 1981.

(Ron Frehm / Associated Press)

The 1981 winner had to wait a while, recruited by USC as a defensive back, switching to the offensive backfield, then playing fullback while he waited two seasons for Charles White, another Heisman winner, to graduate. That pretty much checks the box for the Heisman’s “perseverance” criterion.

As a senior, Allen made up for lost time by becoming college football’s first 2,000-yard rusher, setting or tying 16 NCAA records and leading the team in receptions, all of which overshadowed the Trojans’ shaky finish that season. As for special moments, consider his eight games of 200 yards or more. After one of those performances, then-Tennessee coach Johnny Majors said: “He picks holes as well as any back I’ve seen in my coaching career.”

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