The Duel

3 Best Alabama Players to Never Win the Heisman Trophy

By David Hayes
Shaun Alexander left Tuscaloosa as the program's leading all-time rusher.
Shaun Alexander left Tuscaloosa as the program's leading all-time rusher. / Tom Hauck/Getty Images
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The Alabama Crimson Tide are among college football's most elite and storied programs, and you don't get a seat at that kind of table without earning it through hard work, brilliant coaching minds, and most importantly: an abundance of player talent.

With the kind of athletes and skill sets that have come through Tuscaloosa for the better part of the last century, the national championship rings and trophies have followed suit. However, for a program that's laid claim to 15 national titles, it may come as a surprise that Alabama has produced only two Heisman Trophy winners – both of which have come in the last 15 years.

Keeping that in mind, here's a look at three of the greatest Crimson Tide offensive talents that never won college football's most distinguished award for individual achievement.

Best Alabama Players That Never Won the Heisman

3. Amari Cooper, WR (2012-14)

Amari Cooper played WR for the Alabama Crimson Tide from 2012-14.
Amari Cooper played WR for the Alabama Crimson Tide from 2012-14. / Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Best Potential Heisman Season: 2014
While most NFL fans likely think of Julio Jones as the best former Alabama wide receiver in the league before Cooper, he practically rewrote the Tide's receiving record book in his junior 2014 season. Unfortunately for Cooper, that year's Heisman class presented some extraordinarily-tough competition between the winner Marcus Mariota and runner-up Melvin Gordon. This was especially true for a wide receiver, as if Mariota's 4,454 passing yards and 42 TDs with only 4 interceptions weren't enough, Gordon's 2,587 rushing yards and 32 total TDs on 7.5 yards per carry made for an unusually difficult second act to beat in the same year.

2. Shaun Alexander, RB (1996-99)

Shaun Alexander played RB for the Alabama Crimson Tide from 1996-99.
Shaun Alexander played RB for the Alabama Crimson Tide from 1996-99. / Vincent Laforet/Getty Images

Best Potential Heisman Season: 1999
Before Derrick Henry and Mark Ingram Jr., Shaun Alexander was the face of Alabama's rushing record book. Alexander was a 4-year starter, rushing for 41 TDs and 3,433 yards on 4.9 yards per attempt. After opening his senior 1999 season as Heisman frontrunner, Alexander was well on his way to becoming Alabama's first Heisman winner with 1,383 yards and 19 TDs just 11 games into the season. However, Alexander suffered an ankle sprain against Tennessee, which would ultimately rob him of both the 1999 Heisman and his remaining playing time for the Crimson Tide.

1. Tua Tagovailoa, QB (2017-19)

Tua Tagovailoa started at QB for the Alabama Crimson Tide from 2018-19.
Tua Tagovailoa started at QB for the Alabama Crimson Tide from 2018-19. / Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

Best Potential Heisman Season: 2017
Tua Tagovailoa doesn't just have an argument to be considered the most talented quarterback ever to suit up for the Crimson Tide, his FBS-all-time-greatest career QB rating of 206.9 gives him ground to stand on as college football's greatest ever. Similar to Cooper's unfortunate draw, Tagovailoa's grip on the 2018 Heisman was slowly lost to Oklahoma Sooners QB Kyler Murray. Murray also enjoyed the added benefit being juxtaposed as an improved version of the 2017 Heisman winner (Baker Mayfield) after both succeeding him as Oklahoma's starting QB and ultimately exceeding Mayfield in multiple major single-season statistical categories posted the year prior.


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David Hayes is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, David Hayes also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username DavidWHayes. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.

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