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Ernie Davis


Ernest Randolph Davis

Inducted 1979

Date of Birth



New Salem, PA


Syracuse University (1959-1961)


The most celebrated college player of his time, Ernie Davis was a powerful 6-2, 210-pounder who led Syracuse to a national championship in 1959. Ernie was a standout athlete in high school and chose to attend Syracuse in order to follow in the footsteps of his idol Jimmy Brown. Davis broke all of Brown's records, rushing for 2,386 yards, netting 3,306 yards in all-purpose running, and scoring 220 points including 35 touchdowns. His rushing record was long-standing at Syracuse, 6.6 yards per carry. Davis was the first African-American ever to win the coveted Heisman Trophy. He won it in 1961, after a season in which he gained 823 yards on 150 carries, averaging 5.5 yards per carry. He scored 15 touchdowns and totaled 94 points, and lead Syracuse in pass receiving with 16 catches for 157 yards. "Winning the Heisman Trophy is something you just dream about," Davis remarked, "You never think it could happen to you." Davis also gained unanimous All-America status as a senior after gaining consensus status as a junior and second-team honors as a sophomore. Davis signed with the Cleveland Browns for the then astronomical sum of $65,000 a year. A few days before the 1962 All-Star game it was discovered that Ernie had leukemia. He died before his first pro game. "Some people say I'm unlucky," Davis remarked, "I don't believe it...when I look back, I can't call myself unlucky."


Height 6'2

Weight 210

Career Highlights

  • 1961 Heisman Trophy Winner
  • 1961 Unanimous All-America
  • 1960 Consensus All-America
  • 1959 Second Team All-America
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