Paul Hornung, Notre Dame’s ‘Golden Boy’ from Flaget High School in Louisville, KY, became the only player from a losing team to win the Heisman Trophy. Despite Notre Dame’s 2-8 season record, Hornung took home the honors, beating out Tennessee’s Johnny Majors for the honors.
Hornung’s numbers in 1956 were relatively modest. As a quarterback, he completed 59-of-111 passes (53.1 percent) for 917 yards, 13 interceptions and only three TDs. He rushed for 420 yards on 94 attempts (4.5 yards per carry) – plus he intercepted two passes and kicked 14 extra points. He finished the season by leading the Irish in seven statistical categories and was second nationally in kickoff returns, 15th in passing and 16th in scoring. He lined up at quarterback, fullback and halfback, played through several injuries, kicked off and kicked extra points, punted, accounted for more than half of the team’s scoring (including all the points in the 21-14 victory over North Carolina), and was second in tackles recorded (55).
“In recent years many schools have had football teams named Desire. In 1956 Notre Dame had a football team named Hornung,” said legendary sports writer Dick Schaap. “He passed. He tackled. He intercepted passes. Surrounded by the walking wounded, playing for a team crippled by injuries, Hornung was the whole show.”
Hornung was also a two-time All America selection in 1955-56. He gained fame in the National Football League playing for the Green Bay Packers from 1957-66. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1985.