Remembering Johnny Lattner

By George Vrechek

Heisman Trophy and two-time Maxwell Award winner Johnny Lattner died on Feb. 12, following a long illness. He was 83.

LattnerLattner won the Heisman in 1953 after a brilliant career as a two-way player at Notre Dame, playing on a 9-0-1 team. The 1953 Notre Dame backfield included Lattner, Ralph Guglielmi, Neil Worden, and Joe Heap, all of whom played in the NFL. He was drafted No. 6 overall by the Pittsburgh Steelers and made the Pro Bowl in 1954 before serving the next two years in the Air Force. While playing football for the Air Force, on a team that included many NFL players, Lattner suffered a career-ending ACL tear in a scrimmage against the Washington Redskins.

Lattner was a very up-beat and friendly personality and returned to the Chicago-area where he had been a standout athlete at Fenwick High School in Oak Park. He had a restaurant for many years in Chicago before going into the printing business. His eight children and 25 grandchildren included many more Fenwick graduates and athletes. The April 4, 2014, SCD featured Lattner on its cover in a story about the two oldest living Heisman winners: Johnny Lujack and Johnny Lattner.

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