Although the Rebels still seek their 1st Heisman winner,
they have come oh so close! Four former QB’s have earned recognition for being Ole Miss Heisman Trophy Finalists!
The University of Mississippi has produced legendary quarterbacks such as Charley Connerly, Archie Manning and Eli Manning that earned Heisman Candidate attention before joining the NFL.
Heisman Finish: 1947 – 4th place with (186 points) – The Ole
Miss star finished behind Notre Dame’s John Lujack (742
points), Michigan’s Bob Chappuis (555 points) and SMU’s Doak
Walker (196 points). Conerly began his Rebels career in 1942, but left Oxford to serve
as a Marine in World War II.
After fighting in the Battle of Guam, Conerly returned to college football and helped the Rebels
capture their first SEC championship in 1947. Although playing halfback, Conerly handled all of the team’s passing chores and earned consensus All-American honors.
While leading the nation in passing, Conerly was also named the 1947 SEC
Player of the Year after guiding Ole Miss to a 9-2 record.
Although not drafted until the 11th round of the 1948 NFL Draft by
the Washington Redskins, Conerly earned NFL Rookie of the
Year honors after joining the New York Giants.
Conerly guided New York to the 1956 NFL Championship and was the
Newpaper Enterprise Association 1959 NFL Player of the Year.
Heisman Finish: 1960 – 3rd Place with (453 points) – Gibbs
finished behind Navy’s Joe Bellino (1,793 points) and
Minnesota’s Tom Brown (731 points). Gibbs gained 74 first
Gibbs flourished his senior season with the Rebels as he
guided Johnny Vaught’s squad to a 10-0-1 record and a Football
Writers Association of America National Championship.
Along with being named the SEC Player of the Year, the Grenada, MS
native was named to the 1960 College Football All-America
Team. Gibbs passed for 970 yards and 12 TD’s in 1960.
Despite being drafted by the NFL and AFL, Gibbs pursued pro
baseball after college. Gibbs played a decade as a catcher for
the NY Yankees and later returned to Oxford to coach the Rebels baseball team.
Heisman Finish 1969 – 4th place with (582 points) – Manning
finished behind Oklahoma’s Steve Owens (1,488 points),
Purdue’s Mike Phipps (1,334 points), Ohio State’s Rex Kern (856
points). Manning received 120 first place votes.
Heisman Finish 1970 – 3rd place with (849 points), Manning
finished behind Stanford’s Jim Plunkett (2,229 points) and Notre
Dame’s Joe Theismann (1,410 points). Manning earned 138 first place votes.
The elder manning led Archie’s Army for three years at Ole Miss.
The Rebel star shined in college football’s first prime time TV
game as Archie threw for 436 yards and 3 TD’s and rushed for
104 yards in Ole MIss’ 33-32 loss to Alabama.
Along with being a Heisman finalist in 1969 and ’70, Manning was named to the
All-SEC team as his Rebels posted an overall 15-7 record in that span.
The Ole Miss legend was later named the SEC Quarterback of the Century (1950-75) by several organizations.
Manning was drafted by the New Orleans Saints with the 2nd
pick of the 1971 NFL Draft. Despite playing for some poor
teams, Archie was a 2x Pro Bowl selection and was the 1978
NFC Offensive Player of the Year.
Heisman Finish 2003 – 3rd place (710 points). Manning finished
behind Oklahoma’s Jason White (1,481 points) and Pittsburgh’s
Larry Fitzgerald (1,353 points). Manning earned 95 first place
While not winning the Heisman, Manning did win the
2003 Johnny Unitas Golden Arm and Maxwell Award. The youngest manning was also named the 2003 SEC Player of the Year. Manning had a prolific senior season for the Rebels as he
passed for 3,600 yards and 29 TD passes while leading his squad to a 10-3 record.
The Rebels finished the season ranked
13th after defeating Oklahoma State in the Cotton Bowl. While in Oxford, Eli set or tied 45 single season and career records.
Manning was drafted by San Diego with the first pick of the 2004
NFL Draft, but was traded to the New York Giants. Since
entering the League, Manning has guided NY to two Super Bowl
championships (XLII and XLVI).
The Giants quarterback also earned MVP honors after both championship wins. Manning
also holds the record for most career TD passes in franchise history.