Breaking down the Heisman voting: How Jackson beat Watson


by - Staff Writer -
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The five finalists take a photo with the trophy
The five finalists take a photo with the trophy

NEW YORK, NY – The outcome wasn’t what Deshaun Watson and the Clemson faithful wanted, but the 2016 Heisman Trophy race was a lot closer than most would’ve ever thought.

The national pundits touted Lamar Jackson – the eventual Heisman Trophy winner – as the runaway winner after he started the season with a bang, but Watson’s surge during the month of November made the race much closer.

Ballots were emailed to 870 media personnel across the nation plus 58 Heisman winners and one fan ballot, for a total of 929 electors. Jackson polled 2,144 points to capture the award over Watson (1,524 points), Baker Mayfield of Oklahoma (362 points), Dede Westbrook of Oklahoma (209 points) and Jabrill Peppers of Michigan (208 points).

Who received the votes

Overall 10 players received votes for the Heisman Trophy. In addition to Jackson, Watson, Mayfield, Westbrook and Peppers, Jake Browning (Washington), Jonathan Allen (Alabama), D’Onta Foreman (Texas), Christian McCaffrey (Stanford), Dalvin Cook (Florida State) and Donnel Pumphrey (San Diego State) also received votes.

A total of 48 players appeared on Heisman ballots (35 players received votes in 2015), with 19 receiving first place votes, 32 receiving second place votes and 39 receiving third place votes.

When the votes were cast

The most telling statistic is that 16-percent of voters cast their votes before the conference championship games were played last weekend. Jackson received 45-percent of the votes during the first week of voting, and 40-percent during each of the final two weeks.

Watson received just 10-percent during the first week but saw his number rise to 25-percent and 30-percent in the second and third weeks that voting was open.

The voting breakdown

Jackson received 526 first place votes, 251 second place votes and 64 third place votes – appearing 90-percent of the total ballots.

Watson appeared on 73-percent of the ballots and received 269 first place votes, 302 second place votes and 113 third place votes.

Votes by Region

Clemson’s signal caller did best in the Mid-Atlantic region (South Carolina to Pennsylvania), receiving 274 votes. However, Jackson won the region with 350 total votes.

Jackson and Watson finished first and second in every region of the country. Peppers finished third in the Mid-Atlantic, Browning finished third in the Far West and Mayfield was third in all of the others.

South: Jackson 388, Watson 267, Mayfield 58, Allen 48, Cook 33
Mid-Atlantic: Jackson 350, Watson 274, Peppers 50, Mayfield 48, Westbrook 33
Northeast: Jackson 318, Watson 266, Mayfield 57, Browning 34, Peppers 33
Midwest: Jackson 363, Watson 269, Mayfield 64, Peppers 39, Westbrook 22
Southwest: Jackson 360, Watson 215, Mayfield 96, Westbrook 69, Foreman 43
Far West: Jackson 365, Watson 233, Browning 41, Mayfield 38, Peppers 37


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