The Heisman Trophy Trust is saddened by the news that John Lattner, the 1953 Heisman winner from Notre Dame, has died at the age of 83.
The versatile halfback was a two-time All-American for legendary coach Frank Leahy. As a senior in 1953, he led the Irish to a 9-0-1 record and won the Heisman in the second-closest balloting up to that point. He is the only Heisman winner to be born and raised in Chicago, where he was an alum of Fenwick High.
Amazingly, he became Notre Dame’s fourth Heisman winner despite not leading his team in rushing, passing receiving or scoring. But his all-around talent was not in doubt. He carried 134 times for 651 yards, caught 14 passes for 204 yards, returned 8 kickoffs for 40 yards per return and averaged 10 yards per punt return. He also added four interceptions on defense. His all-purpose yardage total was an Irish record until Vagas Ferguson broke it in 1979.
In the Heisman vote, he won three of the five voting regions and tallied 1,850 points to beat out Minnesota running back Paul Giel (1,794 points). Lattner was also a two-time winner of the Maxwell Award, which he won in both 1952 and 1953.
The seventh overall pick in the 1954 draft, Lattner played one year with the Pittsburgh Steelers and was a Pro Bowl pick before entering the Air Force for two years. He suffered a career-ending knee injury in a military game and later returned to Chicago to enter private business. He was a restaurant owner and an executive for a business forms company before retiring.
Lattner was well known for being generous with his Heisman Trophy. He loaned it out on many occasions over the years to charity organizations so they could use it to raise money for worthy causes.
He was elected to the National Football Foundation Hall of Fame in 1979.
Read more on Lattner’s legacy in this story from the Chicago Tribune.