NCAA / florida state
Heisman Flashback: 1993 - Charlie Ward Runs Away with the Trophy
Heisman Flashback: Charlie Ward 25 years ago, an incredibly athletic quarterback from Florida State University ran away with the Heisman Trophy and was subsequently selected in the 1st Round of the draft - Except, it wasn't the NFL draft... Ward not only played football for four seasons at FSU, but he also played point guard on the basketball team as well, leading the Seminoles to Sweet 16 and Elight Eight appearances among other accomplishments. Ward was known for his court general-ship, unselfish play, and defensive ability on the court. But it was as a QB for Bobby Bowden's Seminoles, where he made his biggest mark. He was accurate and showed a penchant for the end zone, finishing sixth in the Heisman voting as a junior. His senior season was a banner year for the program as they went 12-1 - suffering their only loss @ #2 - ranked Notre Dame by a touchdown - and capturing the National Title. The Irish were upset the following week by unranked Boston College at home and promptly paved the way for the Seminoles to regain their top spot. Not only did FSU's offense flourish, averaging 47.1 points per game during the regular-season, they flat-out demolished their opponents with an average margin of victory of 37.4 points. After they snuck past #3 Nebraska in the Orange Bowl, 18-16, they secured the school's first ever National Title. Ward was the catalyst, winning not only the Heisman Trophy, but the Davey O'Brien Award (to the nation's top quarterback), Johnny Unitas Award (top QB), Maxwell Award (POY Award), and Walter Camp Award (POY Award). He completed 69.5% of his passes for 3,032 yards with 27 TDs, compared to just 4 INTs (in a season where the nation's leader in INTs threw 26), and added another 339 yards rushing and 4 scores. He even caught 1 pass as well, good for 10 yards. Ward did a little bit of everything on the football field, and his magical 93' season remains the best in the program's history. Maybe even more remarkably, he transitioned to the basketball court just 15 days after winning the Heisman Trophy, and started 16 games at PG his senior year. He managed to average over 10 points, nearly 5 assists, 4 rebounds, and 3 steals per game during that final season. After insisting that he wouldn't play in the NFL if he wasn't a 1st Round pick, (he was being projected as a 3rd to 5th round pick and felt like he deserved to be a 1st Rd pick), Ward made good on that promise when teams passed him up in the opening round of the NFL draft, as concerns over his perceived lack of size (6'2" 190 lbs), and uncertainly with basketball caused him to go undrafted. Meanwhile, the New York Knicks selected him in the 1st Round of the NBA draft (#26) - Ward signed with New York and the rest is history. It proved to be a good move for the Knicks as Ward forged an important role with the Knicks' playoffs teams of the late 90s - including the 1999 team that reached the NBA Finals. He was such a gifted athlete, that although he never showed any real inclination to play professional baseball and did not play in college, he was still drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers as a pitcher very late in the 93' free agent draft and again by the New York Yankees in the 18th round of the 94' draft. Ward's athleticism and accuracy throwing a football were unmatched during the early 90s, and it reached a pinnacle in the 1993 season as he led the Seminoles to a 12-1 record, the National Championship, and took home the Heisman Trophy as deservedly the nation's top collegiate player. He remains the only Heisman winner to this day to play in the NBA, and could have enjoyed what I believe would have been a successful NFL career had he gone that route and been given an opportunity. It was only fitting that 25 years later, another incredibly gifted multi-sport athlete took home this year's Heisman Trophy in Oklahoma's football/baseball star Kyler Murray. Congrats once again - 25 years later to Charlie Ward's incredible duel feat of winning a Heisman Trophy and then going on to be a 1st round pick in the NBA Draft.
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