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1939 - 5th Award
Nile Kinnick
Iowa Back

Nile Kinnick is the Hawkeyes' greatest football player of all time. In his football career, he gained 1,674 yards. In his senior year, he completed 31 passes for 638 yards and 11 touchdowns. His 106 rushes netted 374 yards, and his 71 punts over three years were good for 2,834 yards, an average of 39.9 yards per kick. His kickoff and punt returns totaled 604 yards, and he made 11 of his 17-drop kick attempts. In his acceptance speech at the Heisman Dinner, Kinnick reflected the prevailing isolationist mood of the country, saying that he thanked God he had been born in America "where they have football fields instead of in Europe where they have battlefields." And he added that he knew "the football players of this country had rather battle for such medals as the Heisman Trophy than for such medals as the Croix de Guerre and the Iron Cross." Soon after, Kinnick was a pilot of an aircraft carrier in the Caribbean. In June 1943, he crash landed his fighter in the sea and disappeared forever.

Nile was elected to the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame in 1951.

The Voting

Place

Name

School

Class

Position

Points

1Nile KinnickIowaSeniorHB651
2Tom HarmonMichiganJuniorHB405
3Paul ChristmanMissouriJuniorQB391
4George CafegoTennesseeSeniorTB296

Iowa's legendary Kinnick won in the East and Midwest as a four-man sweep took most of the votes. Harmon, Christman and Cafego were the big vote getters but John Kimbrough of Texas A&M won in the Southwest and UCLA's Kenney Washington was third in the Far West voting. Washington's running mate in the backfield was a young man named Jackie Robinson. Ken Kavanaugh of Louisiana State and Banks McFadden of Clemson also received votes in the South.

No. of registered electors: 700(approximate)
Date of announcement: November 28, 1939
Date of dinner: December 6, 1939

The positions within each region:

PlaceEastSouthMidwestSouthwestFar West
1KinnickCafegoKinnick*KimbroughChristman
2HarmonKinnickChristmanChristmanKinnick
3ChristmanChristmanHarmonKinnick**Washington
4CafegoHarmonCafegoCafegoCafego

* John Kimbrough of Texas A&M
** Kenny Washington of UCLA

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