Content on this page requires a newer version of Adobe Flash Player.

Get Adobe Flash player

1938 - 4th Award
Davey O'Brien
TCU Back

This 5'7" 150-pounder sparked Texas Christian to an undefeated season his senior year. In his last season, he threw 194 passes, completed 110 for 1,733 yards and 19 touchdowns. One of the gridiron greats, he holds the all-time college record for most rushing and passing plays in one season - 400. A good runner and punter, he was an outstanding selector of plays. He was the first Heisman winner to emerge from the Southwest Conference. After a brilliant 15-7 Sugar Bowl victory in 1939 over Carnegie Tech in which O'Brien kicked a field goal and threw a touchdown pass, the Philadelphia Eagles beckoned with a $12,000 bonus and a two-year contract. In his first season he passed for 1,324 yards, breaking Sammy Baugh's record; in his second, he completed 33 of 60 passes against the Redskins-still a record. Davey retired to become an FBI agent. In the early '50s he became a business executive. He died on November 18th, 1977.

Davey was elected to the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame in 1955.

The Voting







1Davey O'BrienTexas ChristianSeniorQB519
2Marshall GoldbergPittsburgSeniorRB294
3Sid LuckmanColumbiaSeniorQB154
4Bob MacLeodDartmouthSeniorHB78
5Vic BottariCaliforniaSeniorRB67
6Howard WeissWisconsinSeniorFB60
7George CafegoTennesseeJuniorTB55
8Ki AldrichTexas ChristianSeniorC48
9Whitey BeinorNotre DameSeniorT47
10Dan HillDukeSeniorC38

The tiny O'Brien, who is the smallest player ever to win the Heisman, won in the East, South, Midwest and Southwest, losing in the Far West to California's Bottari. By 1938, the total vote was 584 as more members of the media were asked to participate. Overall, O'Brien received 90 percent of the vote on a 3-2-1 basis.

No. of registered electors: 584
Date of announcement: November 28, 1938
Date of dinner: December 6, 1938

The positions within each region:






Far West


Aflac Supplemental Insurance