The Heisman Trophy is awarded annually to "the outstanding college football player whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity." That statement makes no reference to positions, yet no lineman has ever won the trophy, inaugurated in 1935, when it went to University of Chicago halfback Jay Berwanger.
Instead, 68 of the 73 Heismans have gone to offensive backs, 27 of them quarterbacks. Maybe that's because the trophy itself famously displays a player carrying the ball. In 1997, Michigan's Charles Woodson (now a Packer) became the only defensive player to win it, but many feel his 12 receptions as a wide receiver helped bump him into the lead.
Members of the media, not football insiders, vote for the Heisman, but it's not like reporters are particularly close to running backs. The go-to guys in the locker room, like the Badgers' John Moffitt, are often linemen. Quarterbacks spew clichés, receivers are all about themselves, but offensive linemen can tell you, often humorously, about the true inner workings of a football team.
Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh is the long shot among the finalists for the 2009 Heisman, which will be awarded Saturday. Maybe he'll instead get the Outland Trophy, awarded to the nation's top interior lineman. That's the award Wisconsin left tackle Joe Thomas won in 2006, when Ohio State's Troy Smith took home the Heisman.
Smith is now "Troy who?," having thrown just two passes this year as the Baltimore Ravens' backup QB. Thomas is a two-time Pro Bowler with Cleveland.