Alan Ameche Wins Heisman Trophy
This stampeding fullback in 37 games in four years scored 25 touchdowns gained 3,345 scrimmage yards and was mainly responsible for the Badgers' 26 victories during 1951-54.
His ability to play 55 or more minutes per game amplified his nickname into "The Iron Horse." He holds all rushing records for single game and season performances at Wisconsin, scoring more points and touchdowns than any player in the school's history. He was Wisconsin's greatest grid star. Ameche played as a fullback with the Baltimore Colts for six seasons (1955-1960), then founded Gino's Inc. and served as Corporate Secretary and a member of the Board. Alan was awarded a Doctor of Humane Letters from St. Joseph's College and was Director of the Philadelphia Orchestra and Multiple Sclerosis Society, a Trustee of Malvern Prep, and was Corporations Chairman for the United Negro College Fund. Alan passed away on August 8th, 1988.
Alan was elected to the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame in 1975.
The panel was up to 1,318 and Alan "the Horse" Ameche won in the East and Midwest and Oklahoma's two-way star, Kurt Burris, took the South and Southwest. Ameche registered 214 first place votes to 838 for Burris.
Lino Dante "Alan" Ameche (March 1, 1933 – August 8, 1988), nicknamed "The Horse", was an American football player who played six seasons with the Baltimore Colts in the National Football League after winning the Heisman Trophy in college at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He was elected to the Pro Bowl in each of his first four seasons in the league. He is famous for scoring the winning touchdown in the 1958 NFL Championship Game against the New York Giants, labeled "The Greatest Game Ever Played."
After emigrating to the United States in the late 1930s, his family returned for a year to Italy. The family then returned to Kenosha, Wisconsin. Alan was the cousin of noted actors Don Ameche and Jim Ameche. With colleague (and former Colts teammate) Gino Marchetti, Alan Ameche founded the Gino's Hamburgers chain. However, the Baltimore-based Ameche's Drive-in restaurants were named for him. Ameche died in Houston, Texas.
Ameche earned All-American honors at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, where he played linebacker as well as fullback in those single-platoon days. In four years as a Badger, he gained 3,212 yards, then the NCAA record, scored 25 touchdowns, and averaged 4.8 yards a carry. He won the Heisman in 1954. Ameche is one of six Wisconsin players whose number (35) has been retired, and one of four whose name and number appears on the Camp Randall Stadium façade (fellow Heisman winner and current career rushing record holder Ron Dayne (No. 33) Dave Schreiner (No. 80) and Pat Richter (No. 88) are the others).
The exact origin of his nickname is unclear, although Wisconsin assistant George Lanphear insisted that he christened "The Horse" because he worked like a horse in practice. Each of the other reasons invoked, however, seems just as likely: his unflagging stamina, how he personified sheer brute strength, his signature high-stepping gait. Whatever its origin, the name stuck because it fit; by all accounts a reserved, polite man in his personal life, Ameche was a force to be reckoned with on the gridiron.
Wisconsin's 1951 team, a powerhouse dubbed the "Hard Rocks" by a local reporter, had the best defense in the country and finished the season at 7-1-1. Ameche was the first freshman to ever lead the conference in rushing, gaining 774 yards in 147 attempts—simultaneously breaking two Big Ten records. Including non-conference games, he rushed for 824 yards, a Wisconsin record. Despite the team's phenomenal statistics, the Badger's championship hopes had been dashed by an early, heartbreaking loss to Illinois.
The Badgers began the 1952 season with high hopes. The season was not without its struggles, but Wisconsin managed to finish strong, tied for the conference title with Purdue. Ameche led the Big Ten in rushing again that season, and his honors included being named to the UP and AP All-Midwest teams, as well as to the First-Team All-Big Ten—for the first of three consecutive years.