ERNIE DAVIS, RB, SYRACUSE
Certain choices for running back were slam dunks: Bo Jackson. Herschel Walker. Ernie Davis was an equally easy decision for me, given his place in college football history as the first black Heisman winner.
That milestone alone made Ernie Davis a no-brainer inclusion on the 75th Anniversary All-American team for me, but the Syracuse legend is worthy a spot for plenty more reasons. He was a two-time All-American at running back, but also excelled on defense in college football’s single-platoon era.
In fact, of his 36 career touchdowns, three were interceptions returned for scores. Two came in 1959 when Davis starred on Syracuse’s national championship team — a season chronicled in the 2008 film The Express.
While his 1961 Heisman Trophy was well-earned, the culmination of a season in which he scored 16 touchdowns four different ways (rushing, receiving, passing and interception return), one could make a strong case that he deserved the award in 1960. Davis ran for almost eight yards per carry that season.