With eighteen passing and three rushing touchdowns added to his 2,715 passing yards on the year (which broke his own conference record), Plunkett was awarded the 1970 Heisman Trophy and the PML award given annually to the top college football player in the country. Though he had set so many records on the season, 1970 had been the "Year of the Quarterback," and Plunkett beat out Notre Dame's Joe Theismann and Archie Manning of Ole Miss to win the award. He was the first Latino to win the Heisman Trophy. Aside from the Heisman, he captured the Maxwell Award for the nation's best quarterback and was named player of the year by United Press International, The Sporting News, and SPORT magazine. In addition, the American College Football Coaches Association designated him as their Offensive Player of the Year. He became the second mulitiple recipient of the W.J. Voit Memorial Trophy, awarded each year to the outstanding football player on the Pacific Coast. Plunkett received the Voit Trophy in both 1969 and 1970.
Stanford's Jim Plunkett emerged the big winner in a big year for quarterbacks. Plunkett had 510 first place votes and his 2,229 overall points were the sixth highest in Heisman history. Two other quarterbacks, Notre Dame's Joe Theismann and Mississippi's Archie Manning, were second and third and two others, Rex Kern of Ohio State and Pat Sullivan of Auburn, were fifth and sixth. Six of the top 10 finishers were quarterbacks.
Jim Plunkett | Pat Sullivan | Johnny Rodgers | John Cappelletti | Archie Griffin | Tony Dorsett | Earl Campbell | Billy Sims | Charles White
1930ís | 1940ís | 1950ís | 1960ís | 1970ís | 1980ís | 1990ís | 2000ís | 2010ís
Upon entering Stanford University, Jim Plunkett endured a rough freshman campaign after being weakened by a thyroid operation. His performance originally caused head coach John Ralston to switch him to defensive end, but Plunkett was adamant in remaining at quarterback, throwing 500 to 1,000 passes every day to polish his arm. He earned the opportunity to start in 1968, and in his first game, completed ten of thirteen passes for 277 yards and four touchdowns, and never relinquished his hold on the starting spot. Plunkett's arrival ushered in an era of wide-open passing, pro-style offenses in the Pac-8, a trend that has continued to the present.
His successful junior campaign saw him set league records for touchdown passes (20), passing yards (2,673) and total offense (2,786). This display of offensive firepower led Washington State coach Jim Sweeney to call Plunkett "The best college football player I've ever seen." After his junior year, Plunkett became eligible to enter the NFL draft, which would have given him a chance to earn a large roster bonus for himself and his mother. He passed up the chance at a paycheck, however, so that he could set a good example to the latino youth he had tutored. In his senior year,1970, he led Stanford to their first Rose Bowl appearance since 1952, a game that ended with a 27-17 Stanford victory over the favored Ohio State Buckeyes.