60 years ago Ernie Davis won the Heisman, but that isn’t his only accomplishment

Sports

Courtesy: Syracuse Athletics

(WSYR-TV) — The presence of Ernie Davis is felt almost everywhere when stepping onto the campus of Syracuse University, but that does not explain his whole story.

Davis passed away from Leukemia in 1963, but Monday marks 60 years since he made history by becoming the first African-American and the first-and-only Syracuse star to win the Heisman trophy.

From statues, fields and schools, to the Salt City, the Southern Tier and Cleveland, Davis’ impact is long lasting.

Here’s a look at the incredible life and legacy of the ‘Elmira Express’ Ernie Davis.

  1. Davis was born in New Salem, Pennsylvania. 

2. At age 12, he went to live with his mother and stepfather 

3. Played baseball, basketball and football at Elmira Free Academy 

4. Committed to Syracuse in 1958 

Davis scored two touchdowns, including an 87-yard receiving TD, to help SU defeat no. 4 Texas en route to the 1959 National Championship. It is the only national title in program history.

6. Davis is nicknamed the Elmira Express 

7. Al Mallette of the Elmira Star Gazette coined the nickname 

8. Was roommates with Jim Brown at Syracuse 

Davis won the Heisman in 1961

10. Rushed for 2,386 yards at Syracuse 

11. 5th all-time in program history with 28 rushing touchdowns 

12. Davis also played basketball at Syracuse for one season 1960-1961 

When Elmira Southside High School and Elmira Free Academy merged in 2014, the newly formed Elmira High School adopted the Express mascot for sports after their own “Elmira Express”

14. The former Elmira Free Academy school building is now the middle school, and it has been renamed Ernie Davis Academy 

15. Davis was a member of the Sigma Alpha Mu fraternity, a nationally recognized Jewish fraternity, and was the first African American to join nationally 

16. He was a two-time consensus all-American while at Syracuse 

17. Was drafted no. 1 overall in the 1962 NFL Draft by Washington 

18. Davis was traded to the Browns nearly two weeks after the draft 

19. Two days before the NFL, the Buffalo Bills selected Davis 4th overall, he never signed with the Bills 

20. Davis signed a three-year, $200,000 contract with the Browns 

21. Davis was diagnosed with Leukemia in 1962 

23. Cleveland retired his number 45 after Davis’ passing 

24. Davis is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in Elmira 

25. In 2007, a movie about Davis’ life started production 

On October 10, 2008, The Express: The Ernie Davis Story was released in theaters nationwide

27. Actor Rob Brown portrayed Ernie Davis 

28. The best Section IV senior football players are selected to play in the “Ernie Davis” classic every fall 

29. Ernie Davis is a bronze statue created by Italian-American artist Bruno Lucchesi which stands on SU’s campus between Hendricks Chapel and the Physics building 

carrier dome
On October 10, 2009, Syracuse University named its football field ‘Ernie Davis Legends Field‘ (Courtesy: Syracuse University Athletics)

 

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