Johnny Lattner, 1953 Heisman Winner and Former Steeler, Dies at 83

Associated Press Johnny Lattner was the seventh overall pick of the 1954 NFL Draft after starring at Notre Dame.
Associated Press
Johnny Lattner was the seventh overall pick of the 1954 NFL Draft after starring at Notre Dame.

Johnny Lattner, one of college football’s all-time greats, died early Saturday morning. He was 83 years old.

Lattner had been battling lung cancer, according to The Chicago Sun-Times.

He starred as a two-way player at Notre Dame, winning the Heisman in 1953 as he helped the Fighting Irish to a 9-0-1 record. The Heisman vote that year was the second-closest of all-time, as Lattner narrowly (1,850 to 1,794) edged out Minnesota’s Paul Giel for the honor. Lattner, a jack of all trades, didn’t lead the Fighting Irish in any offensive category that year — he rushed for 651 yards, scored nine touchdowns, intercepted four passes and averaged 40 yards per kickoff return.

Lattner won his second Maxwell Award (top college player) that year. Lattner and Tim Tebow are the only two-time winners of the award.

The Pittsburgh Steelers selected Lattner with the seventh overall pick of the 1954 NFL Draft. He played one season with the team, earning Pro Bowl honors as a kick returner, before leaving to join the Air Force. He suffered a knee injury that ended his football career while playing in an Air Force exhibition game.

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SOURCE: NFL.com
Dan Parr