The Heisman was awarded to John Lattner, from Chicago’s Fenwick High School, despite the fact that he did not lead the Irish in rushing, passing, receiving or scoring. He was a “jack of all trades”, excelling in offense and defense, and making his mark by running, catching and punting as well as returning punts and kickoffs and intercepting 13 career passes. His record for all-purpose yards (3,095) stood until 1979, when it was broken by Vegas Ferguson. Lattner also excelled on defense, intercepting 13 passes for his career.
Memorable games during his Notre Dame career included a 1953 28-21 win over Oklahoma in which carried the ball 24 times (4.1 yard average), caught two passes and intercepted a pass. In 1951, he helped to rally the Irish from a 20-13 deficit with less than a minute and a half to go against Iowa. On fourth-and-10 from the Notre Dame 22-yard line, he faked a punt and threw his first college pass, a 23-yard completion. With 45 seconds remaining, he raced 55 yards for the tying score.
Lattner also earned the Maxwell Award as the top male college player as both a junior and senior, and also earned consensus All-American honors both years. He played one year with the Pittsburgh Steelers and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1979.