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Ernie Davis

Ernest Davis commonly referred to as “Ernie” by friends and colleagues, was an American football halfback who passed away at the mere age of 23 due to complications from leukemia. Born in New Salem, Pennsylvania on December 14, 1939, Davis was a popular athlete in his school and college years. His athletic ability, perseverance and hard work came in to the limelight after becoming the first African American to have been awarded the Heisman Trophy. After his father passed away in a car accident, he lived with his mother and stepfather in Elmira, New York where he attended Elmira Free Academy. This is where Davis gained his foundational abilities as an incredible player in baseball, football and basketball.

A number of top college football programs began noticing Davis’ unique set of skills, especially when it came to football. Davis eventually went to Syracuse University for college, and played for the team from 1959 to 1961. While he never played in his freshman year, he was known to be quite thrilling to watch in practice sessions. Here he won the All-American honors twice, becoming a celebrity amongst the crowd of fans, peers and the like. His time at Syracuse was marred by immense accomplishments, and by the end of his time there, was known as the ‘Elmira Express’ due to his tremendous pace behind the ball. He led the Syracuse team to win a championship in 1959, finishing off the season with a record 11-0 winning streak. One of his most significant victories during this time was a 23–14 win against the Texas Longhorns, in the Cotton Bowl Classic of 1960. Ernie Davis was given the ‘Most Valuable Player’ award. In his 3rd year, he set some more records with a remarkable figure of 7.8 yards per carry and also being one of only a handful to have run for 100 yards six consecutive times. This figure was followed closely by another staggering effort the next season with 823 yards rushed.  The 1961 season featured a 8–3 win-to-lose figure, the most remembered match being against the Miami Hurricanes in the Liberty

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