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For the first time since its inception, the 2011 Valero Alamo Bowl will feature a Heisman Trophy winner the year he won the award. Robert Griffin III became Baylor’s first player to win college football’s most prestigious honor and will be the first titleholder to play in San Antonio in December.
“This is unbelievably believable,” Griffin III said in his acceptance speech. “It’s unbelievable because in the moment we’re all amazed when great things happen. But it’s believable because great things don’t happen without hard work.”
Also known as RG3, Griffin III earned the Heisman after leading No. 12 Baylor to its most successful season and first nine-win record since 1986. Griffin III is one of three players in FBS history with 10,000 career passing yards and 2,000 rushing yards. This season, RG3 is the country’s only player with at least 3,300 passing and 300 rushing yards. Griffin III rushed for 644 yards and nine touchdowns, making him No. 1 in the country in points responsibility with over 22 per game.
“I couldn’t be more happy for Robert,” said Head Coach Art Briles. “This outcome wasn’t by chance, it was by design. Robert has been preparing himself to be the best he can be for four years at Baylor. This award is the result of Robert’s dedication and discipline and the support of our team and football program. This is the exclamation point on the direction of Baylor football and Baylor University.”
The Copperas Cove, Texas, native passed a school-record 3,998 yards and 36 touchdowns with just six interceptions. He ranks second nationally in total offense with 386.83 yards per game, fourth with 36 touchdown passes and fifth with a 72.36 completion percentage. RG3 leads the nation with a 192.31 passing efficiency and is on pace to break the NCAA record of 186.0 in this year’s Valero Alamo Bowl.
Baylor finished the 2011 season strong, shooting Griffin III to the top of the Heisman Watch List. First Griffin III passed for 479 yards and four touchdowns to upset Oklahoma (Nov. 19) 45-38, which ended in a 34-yard game-winner in the closing seconds. Then RG3 led the Bears to a 48-24 victory against Texas with 320 yards passing, two touchdown passes and running another two TDs himself.
Griffin III beat out Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, who was the preseason favorite and front-runner for most of the year. Luck received 247 first-place votes and 1,407 points to become the fourth player to be Heisman runner-up in consecutive seasons and first since Arkansas running back Darren McFadden in 2006 and 2007.
“We are very happy for Robert, he has certainly earned this award,” said Valero Alamo Bowl President and CEO Derrick Fox. “He and the Heisman will bring even more excitement to San Antonio this year. Griffin is not only the most exciting player in college football this year, but his accomplishments in the class-room are equally impressive.”
RG3 was recently named to the Capital One Academic All-America Division I football team, giving Baylor an Academic All-American for the fourth straight season. Griffin III is only the third quarterback in program history to earn the honor. After receiving his bachelor’s degree in political science last December, just three years after enrolling at Baylor, RG3 started graduate school and is on track to receive his master’s degree this May.
Although RG3 will be the first Valero Alamo Bowl player to already have won the trophy, two other Heisman Winners have played in the bowl game.
Michigan cornerback Charles Woodson became a Heisman Trophy honoree in 1997, two years after he and the Wolverines took on Texas A&M in the 1995 SYLVANIA Alamo Bowl.
More recently, quarterback Eric Crouch and Nebraska defeated Northwestern in the 2000 SYLVANIA Alamo Bowl. The following year Crouch was named the 2001 Heisman Trophy Winner. Crouch also played at the Alamodome in the 1999 Dr Pepper Big 12 Championship Game.
Sam Bradford, the 2008 Heisman Winner, also played in San Antonio when Oklahoma defeated Missouri 38-17 in the 2007 Dr Pepper Big 12 Championship Game.