Louisiana State University

In 1959, Billly Cannon became the first Louisiana State Tiger to win the Heisman.

Heisman Winner

Billy Cannon

RB | Senior | Louisiana State University

In 1959, Billy Cannon became the first Louisiana State Tiger to win the Heisman.

Born in Philadelphia, Miss., Cannon grew up in Baton Rouge, La., where he attended Istrouma High, excelling in football, basketball and track. He chose to play football in college for hometown LSU, picking the Tigers over Florida and Mississippi.

Even by today’s standards Cannon was a rare athlete, combining sprinter speed with brute strength. Cannon could consistently run a 9.5 in the 100-yard dash and, at 6-1, 210 pounds, he had the size to overpower his opponents as well as outrun them.

In 1957, he was an immediate standout as a sophomore, offensively and defensively. As a junior, Cannon was the driving force behind the Fighting Tigers as they carved out a perfect season and captured the 1958 national championship. He passed for a touchdown and kicked the extra point in LSU’s 7-0 win over Clemson in the Sugar Bowl, and earned MVP honors.

Cannon’s most memorable performance came in 1959 against Ole Miss. Top-ranked LSU trailed the third ranked Rebels 3-0 early in the fourth quarter, when Cannon fielded a punt at the LSU 11-yard-line and broke seven tackles on his way to paydirt. LSU won the contest 7-3.

Considered one of the best collegiate backs of his era, Cannon was awarded the Heisman Trophy at the conclusion of the 1959 season.

Billy went on to a distinguished career in pro ball with the Houston Oilers, the Oakland Raiders and the Kansas City Chiefs. He was named All-Pro halfback with Houston and All-Pro tight end with Oakland. During his pro years, Billy went to dental school at the University of Tennessee, graduating in 1968 with a D.D.S. He continued his studies at a graduate program in orthodontia at Loyola in Chicago, earning two additional degrees.

Cannon eventually settled down as an orthodontist in Baton Rouge, where he lives with his wife, Dorothy, and five children.

In 2008, the legendary Cannon was inducted into the National Football Foundation Hall of Fame.

More Articles About Billy Cannon

Heisman Voting Results

Number of electors: 1,197 - Announced: December 1, 1959.

 PlayerClassPositionSchool1st2nd3rdTotal Points
1Billy CannonSRHBLSU519147781,929
2Richie LucasSRQBPenn State97109104613
3Don MeredithSRQBSMU266774286
4Bill BurrellSRG-LBIllinois234733196
5Charlie FlowersSRFBMississippi115844193
6Dean LookSRQBMichigan State234125176
7Dale HackbartSRDBWisconsin192135134
8Dwight NicholsSRRBIowa State212513126
9Monte SticklesSRENotre Dame162136126
10Ron BurtonSRRBNorthwestern102836122

Three points are awarded for first place on a ballot, with two points for second place and one point for third place. Finalists in bold.

Heisman Voting By Region

At this time, Heisman voters are spread out across five regions.


1Billy Cannon
2Charlie Flowers
3Richie Lucas
4Don Meredith
5Ernie Davis


1Billy Cannon
2Richie Lucas
3Ernie Davis
4Monte Stickles
5Gerhard Schwedes


1Billy Cannon
2Richie Lucas
3Bill Burrell
4Dean Look
5Dale Hackbart


1Billy Cannon
2Don Meredith
3Richie Lucas
4Charlie Flowers
5Monte Stickles

Far West

1Billy Cannon
2Bob Schloredt
3Richie Lucas
4Don Meredith
5Dean Look


DateOpponentResultRush AttYdsAvg.TDsRecYdsAvgTDsPRYdsAvg.TDsKORYdsAvg.TDsPlaysAPYYPPTotal TDs
9/19/59RiceW 26-315664.40133511.660144.000000.000191055.51
9/26/59#7 TCUW 10-09353.880000.000188.00012626.00011696.30
10/3/59^BaylorW 22-08739.120144.000100.00012020.00011978.81**
10/10/59Miami (Fla.)W 27-317905.29113434.00022412.00023216.000221808.21
10/17/59at KentuckyW 9-011111.00022814.00022311.500000.00015624.10
10/24/59at #19 FloridaW 9-015553.6612126.00025025.00026431.000211818.61
10/31/59#2 MississippiW 7-312484.000000.000312040.001000.0001516811.21
11/7/59at TennesseeL 14-132212210.16111414.000133.00013838.000251777.11
11/14/59Mississippi StateW 27-016322.00013434.000273.50011111.00020844.20
11/21/59TulaneW 14-614664.711000.000000.000000.00014664.71
Heisman StatsUPI #3, AP #39-11395984.3051116114.6301523915.931819123.8701771334*7.57
1/1/60+ #2 MississippiL 21-0681.33033913.000000.00011414.00010616.10

(^) at Shreveport
(+) Neutral site
(*) Includes 4 interceptions on defense returned for 145 yards.
(**) Scored on a 50-yard interception return against Baylor.

Cannon also punted 44 times for 1,774 yards, a 40.3 average


Billy Cannon - Heisman Winner 1959 - Louisiana State University
Billy Cannon, 1959 Heisman winner, dies at age 80
Billy Cannon - Heisman Winner 1959 - Louisiana State University
Billy Cannon - Heisman Winner 1959 - Louisiana State University
Billy Cannon - Heisman Winner 1959 - Louisiana State University