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Paul Finebaum Names Best Player To Not Win Heisman Trophy

An extreme closeup of ESPN college football analyst Paul Finebaum from the Cotton Bowl in Texas in 2019.

ARLINGTON, TX - DECEMBER 31: TV/radio personality Paul Finebaum of the SEC Network speaks on air before the Goodyear Cotton Bowl at AT&T Stadium on December 31, 2015 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

College football has celebrated the season's best player by handing out the Heisman Trophy award since 1935. While there's a long and decorated list of past winners, the honor has eluded plenty of deserving candidates.

On Monday's edition of The Paul Finebaum Show (h/t Brad Crawford of 247Sports), the host was asked to name the best college football quarterback (besides Peyton Manning) to never win the Heisman. 

Finebaum tossed out a handful of options, including a few Hall of Famers along with some passers more known for their college playing days.

"Dan Marino is one we'll throw on that list," Finebaum said. "I'll come up with a couple more here — Stetson Bennett, Colt McCoy ... John Elway was good. Joe Namath wasn't bad, back in the day. Vince Young ... he should've won the Heisman."

He then seemed to settle on his pick.

"I've got the perfect answer for you, because I still regret not voting for this guy, but — Deshaun Watson."

Watson nearly won the award in each of his two seasons as Clemson's starter. In 2015, he finished third behind runner-up Christian McCaffrey and winner Derrick Henry despite accruing 1,105 rushing yards and 12 scores on the ground along with his 4,109 passing yards and 35 passing touchdowns.

The following year, Watson placed second to Lamar Jackson with 4,593 passing yards and 41 passing scores for the Tigers. He then led Clemson to a national title with 420 passing yards and four total touchdowns (three passing, one rushing) in a 35-31 championship victory over Alabama.

Some of the passers Finebaum mentioned fell short to running backs, but voters have gravitated more to signal-callers recently. Henry and Alabama wide receiver DeVonta Smith are the only non-quarterbacks to win the Heisman in the last 12 years.