Ernie Davis was the first Black college football player to ever win the Heisman Trophy. He played running back at Syracuse, ultimately winning the Heisman for his outstanding 1961 season.
Davis attended Syracuse in part because he idolized former Orange running back Jim Brown. He would eventually eclipse Brown, breaking all of his records with 3,306 scrimmage yards and 35 touchdowns.
Syracuse was the national champion in 1959. Davis was a consensus All-American in 1960, then a unanimous All-American in 1961, when he won the Heisman.
Davis was selected with the NFL’s first overall pick in 1962. Tragically, he never logged a professional game – he was diagnosed with acute monocytic leukemia, ultimately dying in May 1963 at age 23.
He was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1979.
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