Davey O'Brien Wins Heisman Trophy
This 5'7" 150-pounder sparked Texas Christian to an undefeated season his senior year.
In his last season, he threw 194 passes, completed 110 for 1,733 yards and 19 touchdowns. One of the gridiron greats, he holds the all-time college record for most rushing and passing plays in one season - 400. A good runner and punter, he was an outstanding selector of plays. He was the first Heisman winner to emerge from the Southwest Conference. After a brilliant 15-7 Sugar Bowl victory in 1939 over Carnegie Tech in which O'Brien kicked a field goal and threw a touchdown pass, the Philadelphia Eagles beckoned with a $12,000 bonus and a two-year contract. In his first season he passed for 1,324 yards, breaking Sammy Baugh's record; in his second, he completed 33 of 60 passes against the Redskins-still a record. Davey retired to become an FBI agent. In the early '50s he became a business executive. He died on November 18th, 1977.
Davey was elected to the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame in 1955.
The tiny O'Brien, who is the smallest player ever to win the Heisman, won in the East, South, Midwest and Southwest, losing in the Far West to California's Bottari. By 1938, the total vote was 584 as more members of the media were asked to participate. Overall, O'Brien received 90 percent of the vote on a 3-2-1 basis.
No. of registered electors: 584
Date of announcement: November 28, 1938
Date of dinner: December 6, 1938
Robert David O'Brien (June 22, 1917 – November 18, 1977) was an American football quarterback in the National Football League for the Philadelphia Eagles. He played college football at Texas Christian University and was drafted in the first round (fourth overall) of the 1939 NFL Draft. In 1938, O'Brien won the Heisman Trophy, Maxwell Award, and the Walter Camp Award. The Davey O'Brien Award, given annually to the best quarterback in collegiate football, is named for him.
O'Brien began playing college football at Texas Christian University (TCU) in 1935, and was backup for Sammy Baugh. He became the starter in 1937, and was named to the first-team All-Southwest Conference.
In 1938, O’Brien threw for 1,457 passing yards — a Southwest Conference record that stood for ten years. He had only four interceptions in 194 passing attempts, and his NCAA record for most rushing and passing plays in a single-season still stands today. That season, he led the Horned Frogs to an undefeated season, as they outscored their opponents by a 269-60 margin and held nine of their ten regular-season opponents to seven points or less, including three shutouts. They finished the season with a 15–7 victory over Carnegie Tech in the 1939 Sugar Bowl and the National Championship title. O’Brien was named to 13 All-America teams and became the first player to win the Heisman, Maxwell and Walter Camp trophies in the same year. He was also the first Heisman winner from TCU and the first from the Southwest Conference.