OSU quarterback Troy Smith claims Heisman in landslide vote

By Rusty Miller The Associated Press

COLUMBUS – Moments after receiving the Heisman Trophy, Ohio State quarterback Troy Smith had a few words for youngsters who want to follow in his footsteps.

“The first thing I would say to little kids is that anything and everything is possible with your dreams if you have humility,” Smith told The Associated Press by phone in the midst of a celebration Saturday night.

Smith became Ohio State’s sixth Heisman winner, and he did it in record fashion. He captured 86.7 percent of the first-place votes and totaled 1,662 points. The fifth-year quarterback easily beat out Arkansas running back Darren McFadden (878) and Dublin native and Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn (782).

The margin of victory was the second largest ever, exceeded only by O.J. Simpson’s 1,750-point victory in 1968.

Smith captured the award just two years after he was suspended from the team for two games for accepting $500 from a booster. Three months before his suspension, he was just a backup quarterback with little opportunity to play.

Smith said the lesson he learned was perseverance.

“Anytime you get in a situation where things don’t happen the way you want them to happen, you need to listen to other people and pick goals that you think are reachable,” Smith said. “Then stay at it, loving and understanding and knowing your dreams. Your dreams can get you anywhere you want to go in life.”

Smith joins Les Horvath (1944), Vic Janowicz (1950), Howard “Hopalong” Cassady (1955), Archie Griffin (1974, ’75) and Eddie George (1995) as Ohio State’s winners of the most prestigious individual award in college football.

Smith completed 67 percent of his passes for a school-record 30 touchdowns with just five interceptions while leading top-ranked Ohio State to a perfect 12-0 mark and a berth in the national championship game.

Smith’s victory reverberated far beyond the Nokia Theater on Times Square in New York City, where it was announced. In his native Cleveland and in Columbus, Ohio State fans toasted Smith’s big accomplishment.

Listed as a fifth-year senior on the roster, Smith already picked up a degree in communications last spring. He has continued in school while seeking a second degree in Black Studies.

Through the good times and the bad, Smith said he had always made it a point to take a daily glance at the Heisman Trophy cases that sit in the atrium of the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. He said it was overwhelming to think that he would now be joining that pantheon of Buckeyes greats.

“Oh, man. It probably won’t sit in until I leave the university,” he said. “But knowing that my name is on one and I’ve added a little bit of tradition to this great university means so much to me.”

Griffin and Cassady, among the past winners standing behind Smith when he stepped to the podium Saturday night, were among the first to welcome their fellow Buckeye into the elite fraternity.

Before leaving for New York and the Heisman announcement, Griffin was asked if Smith deserved to be mentioned among the elite players ever at Ohio State.

“He should be in that conversation,” Griffin said. “At least in my opinion he certainly’s the best quarterback that I’ve seen at Ohio State and we’ve had some doggone good ones. But the performances I’ve seen out of Troy, they’ve really been phenomenal.”