#24 Ernie Davis
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6'2" 212 lbs Guard
HS: Elmira Free Academy Elmira, NY
Born: 12/14/1939 Uniontown, PA
Season Stats
Season Cl Pos G GS FG FGA % FT FTA % Reb Fls DQ Pts PPG RPG
1960-61 Jr G
9
3
38
 
 
16
 
 
86
 
 
92
10.2
9.6
Career    
9
3
38
0
0.0
16
0
0.0
86
0
0
92
10.2
9.6

Running Back Ernie Davis played one season of basketball for Syracuse, during an era when the basketball team was struggling to find talent on the court. Though his time was limited, Davis put up impressive numbers with 10.2 points per game, and 9.6 rebounds per game; he pulled down 18 rebounds against Canisius in one game, and was the scoring spark off the bench. He was the star of the freshman basketball team his freshman year on campus.

Davis was both a high school All American in football and basketball. He led his high school hoops team to a 66-1 record his junior and senior seasons, including a 52 game winning streak (a New York state record that stood until Lew Alcindor came along).

Davis' legend, however, was on the gridiron.

Ernie Davis was one of the greatest running backs in Syracuse history. The 'Elmira Express' rushed for 2,386 yards, breaking the legendary Jim Brown's school record. Davis averaged 6.6 yards per carry and scored 28 touchdowns in his three seasons.

In 1959, as a sophomore, he led the team in rushing as the Orangemen won their first football national championship. The Orangemen went 11-0, beating Texas in the Cotton Bowl 23-14. On the third play of the game, Ger Schwedes threw a pass to Davis, who went 87 yards for a touchdown.

In 1961, Davis rushed for 823 yards, scored 14 touchdowns (12 rushing), and become the first African American to win the Heisman Trophy, recognizing him as the top player in college football. He would be named a consensus All-American twice in his career. The Orangemen played in two bowl games, and went 26-5 during that time.

Ernie Davis was drafted in the first round of the NFL draft in 1962 and immediately traded to the Cleveland Browns, who hope to team Davis up with Jim Brown for a dream backfield. They signed him for an NFL record $80,000. Unfortunately, tragedy struck as Davis became ill with leukemia. He died May 18, 1963 after a 16 month battle with the disease.

In 2000, Sports Illustrated named him to their All-Century college football team, and he was named to the Syracuse All Century Football team.

College Football Stats
Season Cl Pos G Rush Att Yards Rush YPA Rec. Rec. Yards TDs Rush Yds/G
1959 So
RB
10
98
686
7.0
11
94
8
62.4
1960 Jr
RB
9
112
877
7.8
11
141
10
97.4
1961 Sr
RB
10
150
823
5.5
16
157
14
82.3
Career    
29
360
2,386
6.6
38
392
32
82.3

Ernie Davis was always recognized as being a class citizen, an individual that would make any community proud. He helped recruit a similar individual by the name of Dave Bing to play basketball for the Orange. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1979, and was named a Syracuse Letterman of Distinction in 1982.

A movie about Davis' life, The Express, come out in 2008. It starred Rob Brown as Ernie Davis.

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