The W. J. Voit Memorial Trophy was awarded by the Helms Athletic Foundation from 1951 to 1978 to the outstanding college football player on the Pacific Coast. The recipient was determined based on votes cast by West Coast football writers and later broadcasters as well. Award recipients include College Football Hall of Fame inductees, O.J. Simpson, Mike Garrett, Jim Plunkett, Joe Kapp, Craig Morton, Billy Kilmer, and Anthony Davis.
The trophy was named after German American entrepreneur William J. Voit (1881–1946), the founder of the W.J. Voit Rubber Company. Voit was one of the oldest sporting goods companies in the world. Founded in 1922, the company developed and patented the first full-molded, all-rubber inflatable ball and the first needle-type air retention valves in the late 1920s. Voit became a leading manufacturer of footballs and basketballs. In the 1950s and 1960s, a representative of the Voit organization presented the Voit Trophy at a banquet preceding the Rose Bowl game. In 1969, a Los Angeles Times columnist wrote the following about the Voit Trophy tradition:
"Jim Plunkett was in Pasadena Monday to receive the 19th Annual Voit Memorial Trophy, which goes to the Pacific Coast's top player. The trophy stands nearly as high as most men who receive it, but Plunkett dwarfed the thing. ... The Voit Trophy, though, is an accurate mirror of later success in professional ball. Three of the NFL's top quarterbacks -- Joe Kapp, Billy Kilmer and Craig Morton -- all won it, as did such other pro players as Mike Garrett, Gary Beban and O.J. Simpson. Since the award was instituted in 1951, only one winner has failed to play pro ball of some sort."
In addition to the notable NFL players to win the Voit Trophy, the runners-up in the Voit voting included such Hall of Fame players as John Brodie (Voit runner-up in 1956) and Mel Renfro (Voit runner-up in 1963), and Hugh McElhenny (Voit runner-up in 1951).
Unlike the Pop Warner Trophy, awarded each year to the top senior football player on the West Coast, the Voit Trophy was open to underclassmen. Accordingly, four players received the Voit Trophy in multiple years. The multi-year winners of the award are USC Trojans running back Jon Arnett (1955 and 1956), Stanford Cardinal quarterback Jim Plunkett (1969 and 1970), and USC tailback Anthony Davis (1972 and 1974).
USC and Stanford athletes won the Voit Trophy more than those at any other school, with USC athletes taking the trophy nine times and Stanford athletes doing so six times.
In 1975, the Pac-10 Conference began awarding its own Player of the Year Awards for offense and defense. After the 1978 season, the Voit Trophy was discontinued.
Recipients of the Voit Trophy are as follows:
|1951||Bill McColl||End||Stanford||31||Hugh McElhenny, Washington (27)|
|1952||Jim Sears||Halfback||USC||53||Donn Moomaw, UCLA (45)|
|1953||Bobby Garrett||Quarterback||Stanford||78||Paul Cameron, UCLA (42)|
|1954||Paul Larson||Back||Cal||50||George Shaw, Oregon (41)|
|1956||Jon Arnett||Back||USC||72||John Brodie, Stanford (55)|
|1957||Dick Wallen||End||UCLA||60||Bob Newman, Wash. St. (30)|
|1958||Joe Kapp||Quarterback||Cal||117||Dick Bass, College of the Pacific (36)|
|1959||Bob Schloredt||Quarterback||Washington||110||Chris Burford, Stanford (38)|
|1960||Billy Kilmer||Tailback||UCLA||Marlin McKeever, USC|
|1961||Hugh Campbell||Wide Receiver||Wash. St.||59||Terry Baker, Oregon St. (33)|
|1962||Terry Baker||Quarterback||Oregon St.|
|1963||Vern Burke||Split end||Oregon St.||Mel Renfro, Oregon|
|1965||Mike Garrett||Tailback||USC||Gary Beban, UCLA (80)|
|1966||Pete Pifer||Fullback||Oregon St.||102||Gary Beban, UCLA (80)|
|1967||Gary Beban||Quarterback||UCLA||163||O.J. Simpson, USC (119)|
|1968||O.J. Simpson||Tailback||USC||180||Bill Enyart, Oregon St. (55)|
|1969||Jim Plunkett||Quarterback||Stanford||128||Dennis Shaw, San Diego St. (54)|
|1970||Jim Plunkett||Quarterback||Stanford||Dennis Dummit, UCLA|
|1971||Don Bunce||Quarterback||Stanford||81||Bernard Jackson, Wash. St. (72)|
|1972||Anthony Davis||Tailback||USC||107||Charle Young, USC (32); Dan Fouts, Oregon (30)|
|1976||Ricky Bell||Tailback||USC||120||Jeff Dankworth, UCLA (31)|
- "Gophers Favored In Writers' Poll". Los Angeles Times. 1961-12-27. (Trophy presented in 1961 by Voit Rubber vice president Mel Barton)
- "Tribe's McColl Captures First Voit Trophy". Los Angeles Times. 1951-12-20.
- "Voit History". Voit.
- Jack Geyer. "Wizard of Odds: Troy Favored by 7 Points, but Hill Calls Game Even". Los Angeles Times. (Voit president Willard Voit, son of the trophy's namesake, presented the 1952 trophy)
- "Jon Arnett Awarded Voit Trophy As Coast's Best Football Player". Los Angeles Times. 1955-12-28. (Willard Voit presented the 1955 award.)
- Jack Geyer (1956-12-18). "Luncheon: Iowa Rugged, Says Team's Line Coach". Los Angeles Times.
- Jack Geyer (1957-12-24). "Hayes Scoffs At Big Odds On Buckeyes". Los Angeles Times.
- Al Wolf (1959-12-29). "Bowl Coaches Refuse To Sing Blues". Los Angeles Times. (Voit national sales manager Mike Kelly and Rose Bowl Queen present 1959 trophy.)
- Dwight Chapin (1969-12-31). "He Could Use The Money: Plunkett Reveals He Was Never Close To Accepting Pro Offer". Los Angeles Times.
- "Sears Selected for Voit Award". Los Angeles Times. 1952-12-12.
- "Bobby Garrett Awarded Voit Football Trophy". Los Angeles Times. 1953-12-03.
- "Voit Trophy Goes To Cal's Paul Larson". Los Angeles Times. 1954-12-15.
- "Paul Larson Wins Voit Grid Trophy". Los Angeles Times. 1954-12-08.
- "USC Rips It: Voit Trophy Winners". petecarroll.com.
- "Arnett Wins Voit Grid Award". Los Angeles Times. 1956-12-12.
- "UCLA's Wallen Voted Winner of Voit Trophy". Los Angeles Times. 1957-12-19.
- "Kapp Winner of Voit Trophy". Los Angeles Times. 1958-12-09.
- Al Wolf (1959-12-24). "Huskies Pack Twin Wallop in Backfield". Los Angeles Times.
- "Bob Schloredt Named Top West Coast Player". Los Angeles Times. 1959-12-24.
- "Kilmer Winner of Voit Trophy". Los Angeles Times. 1960-12-08.
- Braven Dyer (1960-12-29). "Sports Parade: Nicholas Likes Huskies' Speed". Los Angeles Times.
- "2003 Cougar Football: History and Awards, p. 172" (PDF). Washington State University.
- AP (1961-12-20). "Cougar Gets Voit Trophy". Portland Oregonian.
- "OSU Player Accolades" (PDF). Oregon State University.
- "Beavers' Burke Shades Renfro for Voit Award". Los Angeles Times. 1963-12-10.
- "Craig Morton Wins Voit Trophy". Fresno Bee. 1964-12-10.
- "Garrett Wins Voit Award As Top Player". Los Angeles Times. 1965-12-07.
- "Pete Pifer Captures W.J. Voit Memorial Trophy". Portland Oregonian. 1966-12-07.
- "Beban Named Best Player on Coast". Los Angeles Times. 1967-12-05.
- AP (1967-12-05). "Beban Wins Voit Award". Portland Oregonian.
- "O.J. Voit Winner by a Landslide". Los Angeles Times. 1968-12-10.
- "Tribe Tosser Takes Voit Trophy: Plunkett Is Named Best Gridder On Coast". The Times (San Mateo, CA).
- AP (1969-12-30). "Jim Plunkett Receives Voit". Portland Oregonian.
- "Voit Award Won By Jim Plunkett". Los Angeles Times. 1970-12-09.
- AP (1970-12-09). "Plunkett Bags Voit Trophy". Portland Oregonian.
- "Bunce Winner of Voit Trophy". Los Angeles Times. 1971-12-15.
- "USC's Davis Voted Top Player On Coast". Los Angeles Times. 1972-12-27.
- "Muncie Wins Voit Award". Los Angeles Times. 1975-12-20.
- AP (1976-12-11). "Voit Award Voted Bell". Portland Oregonian.
- "Names in the News". Los Angeles Times. 1977-12-22.