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1961 - 27th Award
Ernest Davis
Syracuse Back

Ernie Davis of Syracuse, a big, rugged 6'2", 212-pounder, played left halfback and was his team's leading ground-gainer for three seasons. He completed with 16 catches for 157 yards. He broke Jim Brown's career records in rushing (2,386 yards), yards gained all ways (3,414), scoring (220 points) and touchdowns (35). After graduating from college, Davis was signed by the Cleveland Browns for the (then) astronomical sum of $80,000. Shortly after signing and before he suited up for his first pro game, Ernie Davis was struck down by leukemia. He died as the first African American to win the Heisman Trophy.

Elected to the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame in 1979.

The Voting













1Ernie DavisSyracuseSeniorHB17910381824
2Bob FergusonOhio StateSeniorFB12215693771
3Jimmy SaxtonTexas SeniorRB8110598551
4Sandy StephensMinnesotaSeniorQB1047868543
5Pat TrammelAlabamaSeniorQB764544362
6Joe RomigColoradoSeniorG554034279
7John HadlKansasSeniorQB33 25 23 172
8Gary CollinsMaryland Senior TE-WR 28 31 21 167
9Roman GabrielNorth Carolina State Senior QB 23 27 32 155
10Merlin OlsenUtah State Senior DT 13 19 16 93

In the second closest vote in Heisman history, Syracuse star Ernie Davis edged out Ohio State bruiser Bob Ferguson by a mere 53 points. Davis managed to win only the East as five different players captured the sections. Alabama’s Pat Trammel won in the South; Jimmy Saxton of Texas in the Southwest and Sandy Stephens of Minnesota won the Far West. Davis became ill with leukemia the following summer and died May, 1963.

No. of registered electors: 1091
Date of announcement: 28 November 1961
Date of dinner: 6 December 1961

The positions within each region:






Far West

1 Davis Trammel Ferguson Saxton Stephens
2 Ferguson Saxton Stephens Ferguson Ferguson
3 Collins Davis Davis Trammel Davis
4 Saxton Gabriel Romig Davis Romig
5 Stephens Ferguson Saxton Alworth Saxton

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