Quarterback Robert Griffin III became the first player from Baylor University to win the Heisman Trophy, college football’s top individual honor.
Griffin received 1,687 points, beating by 280 points Stanford quarter Andrew Luck, who finished as runner-up to 2010 winner Cam Newton. University of Alabama running back Trent Richardson was third with 978 points.
The balloting was conducted by the Heisman Trophy Trust and the winner announced last night at a televised ceremony in New York.
“This moment right here is unbelievably believable,” said Griffin, who had earlier shown off his blue Superman socks that had red capes draping off the cuffs. “It’s unbelievable because we’re all amazed when great things happen. It’s believable because great things only happen with hard work.”
Griffin, a 21-year-old junior at the Waco, Texas-based university, finished the season as the nation’s top-rated quarterback, completing 72.3 percent of his passes for 3,998 yards and 36 touchdowns, with six interceptions. He also rushed for 832 yards and nine scores as Baylor went 9-3 -- its best season in 25 years -- and had a winning record against Big 12 Conference opponents for the first time.
Griffin, nicknamed RG3, is the third Heisman winner in 14 years to play for a team that lost more than two regular-season games, joining Tim Tebow of Florida in 2007 and Ricky Williams of Texas in 1998.
Baylor is 12th in the Bowl Championship Series standings and had a 6-3 record in the Big 12 this season, with wins against No. 14 Oklahoma, No. 18 Texas Christian and No. 24 Texas. Before this year, the Bears had an 18-102 record against conference opponents since joining the Big 12 in 1996.
In the Bears’ final regular-season game, a 48-24 win over Texas, Griffin passed for 320 yards and two touchdowns while running for two more scores.
Baylor will play the University of Washington in the Dec. 29 Alamo Bowl, making back-to-back postseason appearances for the first time since 1991 and 1992.
Griffin received 405 first-place votes. Luck got 247 first-place votes and Richardson received 138. University of Wisconsin running back Montee Ball was fourth in the voting, followed by Louisiana State cornerback Tyrann Mathieu.
Of the five schools with finalists, Baylor was the only one without a previous Heisman Trophy winner. Quarterback Donn Trull was the Bears’ previous highest finisher, placing fourth in 1963, when Navy quarterback Roger Staubach won.
The trophy is named in memory of John Heisman, a former coach who as director of New York’s Downtown Athletic Club helped create the award in 1935. Heisman died from pneumonia less than a year later.