Leon Hart, 1949

Leon Hart, from Turtle Creek (PA) High School, shares the honor of being only one of two linemen to ever win the Heisman Trophy.  The other winner was Larry Kelley of Yale in 1936.  Hart’s distinguished four-year career included playing on three national championship teams and never playing on an Irish team that lost.  During that span, Notre Dame racked up a 36-0-2 record.

At 6-4, 260 pounds, Hart was one of college football’s biggest ends of his era, and he played on both offense and defense.  He was one of the last to play two-way players with the advent of platoon football.  He was known as an outstanding blocker and rusher on defense and had superb pass-catching skills on offense.  Hart is often most remembered for his spectacular touchdown that tied Southern California 14-14 in 1948. Hart took a 25-yard pass from Frank Tripucka and shook numerous Southern Cal tacklers on his way to the TD.

Hart was All-America three times, won the 1949 Heisman and Maxwell Awards and was 1949 Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year. Hart played eight seasons with the Detroit Lions, mostly at end but also at fullback late in his career. He was named All-Pro in 1951 as both an offensive and defensive end.  He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1960.  He died September 24, 2002 in South Bend.  He was hospitalized after watching the Irish defeat Michigan, 25-23.