Has Washington ever had a Heisman Trophy winner?

With star quarterback Michael Penix Jr. certainly in the mix for it this season, has a Washington Huskies football player ever won the Heisman Trophy before? The answer might shock you a bit.

Michael Penix Jr., Washington Huskies
Michael Penix Jr., Washington Huskies / Tom Hauck/GettyImages

Although the Washington Huskies are widely considered to be a blue-blood college football program out on the West Coast, they are one of the biggest brands to have never had a player of theirs win the Heisman Trophy before. They are on a shortlist of I can't believe it hasn't happened yet with the likes of the Clemson Tigers, the Tennessee Volunteers and a few others. To date, no Husky has ever won it.

The good news for the Washington faithful is that could be changing this season. Huskies star quarterback Michael Penix Jr. has been around a top-three candidate for the trophy all year long. Although Oregon quarterback Bo Nix may be the frontrunner heading into the final Pac-12 Championship Game vs. the Huskies, Washington is undefeated and has already beaten the Ducks.

Should Penix dominate the Washington State Cougars in the Apple Cup and outshine Nix in Las Vegas for the final Pac-12 Championship, it might be his award. We have seen great players lose the Heisman during Championship Weekend. The most recent and best example of this was Kyler Murray swooping in to take the 2018 Heisman away from leader Tua Tagovailoa of the Alabama Crimson Tide.

The strangest part isn't that Washington has never won it, but no Husky star has ever come close...

Washington football: Has a Husky ever won the Heisman Trophy before?

As of the 2022 college football season, only eight Husky stars have ever finished inside the top 10 in Heisman Trophy voting, including Penix who had an eight-place finish a season ago for Washington.

Here is every Washington football player of note who has finished inside the top 10 for the Heisman.

  • HB Hugh McElhenny: (1951, 8th)
  • QB Don Heinrich: (1952, 9th)
  • RB Greg Lewis: (1990, 7th)
  • DE Steve Emtman: (1991, 4th)
  • RB Napolean Kaufman: (1994, 9th)
  • QB Marques Tuiasosopo: (2000, 8th)
  • QB Jake Browning: (2016, 6th)
  • QB Michael Penix Jr.: (2022, 8th)

The interesting part about the names listed above is many of whom are College Football Hall of Fame inductees. Hugh McEhenny and Don Heinrich starred for the Huskies in the early 1950s, while Steve Emtman helped Don James and the Huskies win their most recent national title way back in 1991. Jake Browning helped the Huskies make their first-ever trip to the College Football Playoff in 2016.

Overall, for even as big of a brand as Washington is on the West Coast, it is still so hard for Husky stars to cut through into the mainstream. Even when they have a team capable of winning a national title, we do not even get a player of note of theirs to place. Fortunately, I would fully expect that Penix will be among the four or five guys from this season invited to attend the ceremony in New York City.

If Penix balls out vs. Washington State and Oregon, he could be Washington's first Heisman winner.

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