Sophomore wide receiver Rondale Moore has recently received high praise from a former football great. Desmond Howard, who won the Heisman Trophy Award himself while at Michigan, recently said on television he thinks Moore is a dark horse and could take home the Heisman.
Purdue has never had a Heisman winner, but the Boilers have been close. Drew Brees was nominated twice while in West Lafayette but could never take it home. He finished third and fourth back-to-back years. Brees has however found success in the National Football League, winning a Super Bowl and taking home the Super Bowl Most Valuable Player Award.
Former quarterback Bob Griese was also close to taking home the hardware. The NFL Hall-of-Famer was the Heisman runner-up in the 1966 season. He lost the race to Steve Spurrier of the Florida Gators.
Leroy Keyes, who played both sides of the ball for the Boilermakers, also came close to Heisman glory. Keyes played running back and defensive back while at Purdue from 1966 to 1968. His campaign for the award landed him third in 1967 and second in 1968.
Keyes had enough Heisman votes that would have won him the award in most seasons, but a different superstar prevented that. Keyes lost to O.J. Simpson of USC both times. Simpson, who also played running back, had a successful 10-year career in the NFL on the Buffalo Bills and San Francisco 49ers.
Just after Keyes finished his time in West Lafayette, a new Heisman candidate emerged for the Boilermakers.
Quarterback Mike Phipps finished runner-up to Steve Owens of Oklahoma in 1969. Phipps lost by only 144 votes and was the closest Boilermaker to actually winning.
Following a record-breaking freshman season, Moore has high expectations from fans, teammates and coaches this year.
He kicked off his sophomore campaign against Nevada with 11 receptions, 124 yards and a touchdown. However, with other big-name players such as Alabama’s quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and Oklahoma’s quarterback Jalen Hurts, Moore will have to make an even bigger splash in order to remain a serious contender for the award.
With Purdue’s home opener on Saturday against Vanderbilt, Moore has a lot to prove if he wants to remain in the Heisman hunt.