TCU Horned Frog Heisman Trophy Winners

TCU Horned Frogs Heisman Trophy Winners

TCU Horned Frogs Heisman Trophy Winners

Texas Christian University (TCU) has had one Heisman Trophy winner:

Davey O'Brien in 1938

In the storied history of college football, few accolades are as revered as the Heisman Trophy. Awarded annually to the most outstanding player in collegiate football, the Heisman has become synonymous with excellence on the gridiron. Among the prestigious list of Heisman recipients, the Texas Christian University (TCU) Horned Frogs have made their mark with a winner who left an indelible impact on the sport.

Davey O'Brien (1938): The standout quarterback who etched his name in the annals of college football history, becoming TCU's first and only Heisman Trophy winner.

Davey O'Brien: The Lone Star of TCU's Heisman History

Davey O'Brien: The Lone Star of TCU's Heisman History

In the annals of college football, few names shine as brightly as that of Davey O'Brien. Born Robert David O'Brien on June 22, 1917, in Dallas, Texas, he would go on to etch his name in the history books as one of the most accomplished players of his era. 

O'Brien's journey to football stardom began at Texas Christian University (TCU), where he played from 1936 to 1938. In his final year, O'Brien led the Horned Frogs to an undefeated season and a national championship, outscoring their opponents by a staggering 269 to 60 margin. His performance that season was nothing short of spectacular, throwing for 1,457 yards, a Southwest Conference record that stood for a decade. 

In recognition of his outstanding performance, O'Brien was awarded the Heisman Trophy in 1938, becoming the first player from TCU and the Southwest Conference to receive this prestigious award. The same year, he also received the Maxwell Award, making him the first player to win both awards in the same year. 

From College Stardom to Brief Brilliance in the NFL: O'Brien's Professional Football Journey.

Following his illustrious college career, O'Brien was the fourth overall pick of the 1939 NFL Draft, selected by the Philadelphia Eagles. He played for the Eagles for two seasons, leading the league in passing in his rookie year. Despite his success on the field, O'Brien retired from professional football after the 1940 season.

Beyond the Gridiron: O'Brien's Impactful Career Shifts Post-Football

After his retirement from football, O'Brien served as an agent in the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for ten years. He later worked for H. L. Hunt in land development and Dresser Atlas Industries of Dallas in the oil business. O'Brien also served as an adviser to Lamar Hunt during the founding of the American Football League.

Community Champion: O'Brien's Off-Field Contributions and Civic Engagements

In addition to his professional pursuits, O'Brien was actively involved in his community. He served as the president of the TCU Alumni Association, a YMCA board member, a chair of the Tarrant County Democratic Party, and a deacon of University Christian Church. He also supported Golden Gloves youth boxing programs.

A Lasting Legacy: Honors, Tragedy, and O'Brien's Enduring Impact on Football

O'Brien was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1955 and the Texas Sports Hall of Fame in 1956. From 1960 to 1964, he was the color commentator on Dallas Cowboys telecasts.

Sadly, O'Brien was diagnosed with cancer in 1971 and passed away on November 18, 1977. His legacy, however, lives on. Since 1981, the Davey O'Brien Award is given annually to the best quarterback in college football, a fitting tribute to a player who left an indelible mark on the sport.


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