NEW YORK -- Winning the Heisman Trophy was easy. The hard
part for Troy Smith was staying composed.
To the surprise of no one, the Ohio State quarterback was a
runaway winner Saturday night of the award that honors college
football's best player.
Seconds after his name was called, he hugged everyone important
in his life -- coaches and family -- let out a deep, deep sigh and
headed for the podium.
"Normally, I'm pretty cool in pressure situations, but my heart
is pounding so fast now," he said.
"I'm at a loss for words. I just can't believe this is
happening. ... It means everything. Just to be here in this
situation. I love everybody back home in Columbus."
Just two years after nearly derailing his career by taking money
from a booster, Smith received 801 first-place votes and won the
Heisman by 1,662 points -- both the second-best marks in the 71-year
history of the award.
Arkansas running back Darren McFadden (878) finished second, Notre
Dame quarterback Brady Quinn (782) was third and West Virginia running
back Steve Slaton (214) was fourth.
Only O.J. Simpson's 1,750-point victory in 1968 was more
onesided than Smith's.
"I haven't spent that much time dreaming about it," Smith said
of winning the Heisman. "But I'll be dreaming about it tonight.
It's pretty cool."
The senior moved to the front of the Heisman race in September
with a flawless performance against Texas and finished off a
perfect regular season by throwing four touchdown passes against
Now, there's only one thing left for Smith to do: beat Florida
for the national championship on Jan. 8.
A huge smile lit up Smith's face when the winner was announced.
After getting a hug and handshake from Quinn, Smith headed to the
row of chairs directly behind him, where his mother, Tracy, and
sister, Brittany, were sitting.
They each took turns giving Smith a big squeeze. But Smith
wasn't done with the hugs -- one for Ohio State coach Jim Tressel
and another for his high school coach, Ted Ginn Sr.
Mom wiped away a tear and his sister shouted "Yeah, Troy!" as
Smith ascended the stairs to give his speech and collect his big
"The Smith family is loud. Very emotional all the time," Smith
said. "I wouldn't have it any other way."
The 22-year-old Smith is the sixth player from Ohio State to win
the Heisman and first since tailback Eddie George in 1995. And it's
the school's seventh Heisman -- Archie Griffin won two in 1974-75 --
tying Notre Dame and Southern California for the most.
"Now I'm part of that elite group," Smith said.
Smith also received 86.7 percent of the first-place votes, a
record, and his point total of 2,540 places third in Heisman
history behind Simpson (2,853) and fellow Southern California
tailback Reggie Bush, who had 2,541 last season.
USC had been on a Heisman run, winning two straight and three of
the last four, before Smith stepped in. Just like USC's Bush and
Matt Leinart, and Oklahoma's Jason White in '03, Smith will play
for the national title as a Heisman winner.
"I'm still in awe over this situation," he said, sporting a dark
three-piece suit with red pinstripes and a Buckeyes' scarlet and
"I represent these colors to the fullest," he said.
It's been quite a journey.
"I'm proud of him and everything he's accomplished," Quinn, a
fellow Ohioan, said of Smith. "Knowing his background, knowing where
he comes from, I think it's an important thing to understand why
he's so driven and so deserving of such an award."
Smith came to Ohio State as part of a heralded recruiting class
in 2002, but his signing was little more than a footnote. His claim
to fame was being Ted Ginn Jr.'s quarterback at Glenville High
Smith was labeled an "athlete" coming out of high school, the
type of player who might ultimately find a home at wide receiver or
Even Tressel wasn't sure he'd play quarterback, but he saw
But Smith, a foster child as a teen with a quick temper, also
had a penchant for finding trouble. After getting kicked off the
basketball team at a private high school for elbowing an opponent,
he transferred out of the suburbs of Cleveland to inner-city
Glenville High. Smith, who is black, said the white opposing player
used a racial slur against him.
At Ohio State, Smith was involved in a fight outside a dorm in
the fall of 2003 and found guilty of disorderly conduct.
On the field, Smith couldn't beat out Justin Zwick, the highly
touted blue-chipper from the '02 class, at the start of the 2004
season. But when the Buckeyes lost three straight and Zwick got
hurt, Smith got his chance and righted the Buckeyes with his
running and passing.
Then he tripped himself up again.
An NCAA investigation determined he took $500 from an Ohio State
booster in the spring of 2004. He could have been gone from the
Buckeyes for good. Ultimately, he had to repay the money and sit
out a bowl game and the first game of 2005.
Back from suspension, he finally became a star.
Smith finished the '05 season with consecutive 300-yard passing
games in victories over Michigan and Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl,
essentially kicking off his '06 Heisman campaign.
Once known more for his speed and elusiveness, Smith has become the
consummate pocket-passer. Accurate and poised, he's fourth in the
nation in passer rating (167.9) with 2,507 yards passing and 30 TD
He heads into the BCS championship game 25-2 as a starter, and --
Gators beware -- Smith has been at his best when the Buckeyes have
needed him most.
The first Ohio State quarterback in 70 years to lead the
Buckeyes to three straight victories over Michigan, Smith had 1,051
total yards with three touchdown passes and another TD run against
He's 11-1 as a starter against ranked opponents, with a chance
to improve on that mark in the biggest game of his career in
Arizona against Florida.
"Finally, now that's out of the way," Smith said. "Now let's
move on to preparation for the University of Florida and the