Lattner claimed the Heisman Trophy in 1953 during his senior year - in the second-closest Heisman balloting in history - despite the fact he didn't lead the Irish in rushing, passing, receiving or scoring. A jack of all trades who barely nosed out Minnesota's Paul Giel for the award, Lattner benefitted from helping Leahy's final Notre Dame team to a 9-0-1 record that earned the Irish national title recognition from all selectors but the two wire services (they named unbeaten Maryland). He received the Maxwell Award as the top collegiate player as both a junior and senior and finished fifth in the Heisman voting as a junior behind Oklahoma's Billy Vessels.
A consensus All-American as both a junior and senior on offense and defense, he made his mark by running, catching and punting the football, while also returning punts and kickoffs and intercepting 13 career passes. He established a record for all-purpose yards from rushing, receiving and runbacks - a mark that stood until Vagas Ferguson broke it in 1979. He finished with 321 kickoff return yards on only eight returns (two for touchdowns) as a senior.
Lattner played one year with the Pittsburgh Steelers before entering the service and suffering a career-ending knee injury in a military game. A former restaurant owner in Chicago, he also served as an executive for a business forms company. Lattner was elected to the National Football Foundation Hall of Fame in 1979. He died on February 12, 2016.
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1953 Heisman Voting
1. John Lattner, Notre Dame (1850)
2. Paul Giel, Minnesota (1794)
3. Paul Cameron, UCLA (444)
4. Bernie Faloney, Maryland (258)
5. Bob Garrett, Stanford (231)
6. Alan Ameche, Wisconsin (211)
7. J.C. Caroline, Illinois (193)
8. J.D. Roberts, Oklahoma (108)
9. Lamar McHan, Arkansas (78)