Do Heisman Trophy-winning schools get a boost in recruiting?

The Heisman trophy is a prestigious award that supposedly goes to the best individual college football player. Whether that is true or not is not the point here. What is pretty much universally agreed upon is that it does go to a very good player, and usually that player is a key part of a winning team. That player is usually a QB and, as of late, an underclassman. But I digress…

Heisman winners obviously garner a lot of attention for themselves, but also for their program. Any coach who has a player win the Heisman has an obvious recruiting pitch to the upcoming recruiting classes. But does the Heisman actually help a program in recruiting in any tangible way? I decided to take a look.

Using 10 years of Heisman winners (2007-2016), I compared the team’s recruiting average rating from the 2 years prior to the Heisman year (HY), the HY, and two years post-HY. I was simply looking to see if there was an uptick in overall recruiting after the HY as compared to how the school was doing prior to and during the HY. Of course, there are several confounds that could impact recruiting along that 5-year stretch. As of this writing, I am not attempting to unearth those confounds, but to simply see if there is an upward trend.

The table above shows that the two years post-HY were associated with an increase in average recruit ratings in 8 out of 10. Again, there could be a lot of reasons for that, but in general recruiting appears to trend up after a school has a Heisman winner. Logically, having a Heisman winner shouldn’t hurt recruiting, and it clearly didn’t show any evidence of that here.

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