Hornung, Notre Dame's deadly efficient All-American quarterback, has
taken his place as a worthy successor to the great Notre Dame field
generals of past years. During the 1955 and 1956 seasons, Hornung was a
consensus all-american choice, and if the records are any criteria, he
was the most valuable player on both the 1955 and 1956 Notre Dame
This season, (1956)
while playing for the "losingest" Notre Dame team in
history, Hornung received the Heisman Trophy, given annually by the
Downtown Athletic Club or New York to the outstanding college football
player. He became the fifth Notre Dame player chosen, following Angelo
Bertelli in 1943, John Lujack in 1947, Leon Hart in 1949 and John
Lattner in 1953.
He also received the
Walter Camp Memorial Trophy, given by the Washington (D.C.) Touchdown
Club to the outstanding college back of the year; was the bonus choice
in the National Football League draft by the Green Bay Packers; was
named the outstanding back in the Hula Bowl; and finished second in
the nation in total offense.
Since the fourth game
of the season, when he made a touchdown-saving tackle, he was bothered
by a dislocated left thumb. And in the last three games, he also had a
dislocated right thumb. Still, he scored all 21 point's in Notre
Damels 21-14 win over North Carolina, directing the team 63 yards in
the final quarter for the last touchdown. In the season's finale
against Southern Cal, he had one of his greatest days as the Irish
lost, 28-20. Playing at left half because of the condition of his
thumbs which would not allow him to handle the ball at quarterback, he
returned a kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown and kept the Irish in the
game all the way.
acclaim as the most versatile back in the country. He played at three
different backfield positions, led Notre Dame in eight statistical
categories and in addition to his national second place finish in
total offense, he was second in the country in kickoff returns, 15th
in passing and 16th in scoring.
He led the team in
rushing, passing, scoring, kickoffs returned, punts returned, punting,
playing time and passes broken up, and was second in tackles made and
pass interceptions. The only department in which he did not place
among the leaders was pass receiving, and that would have been next to
impossible since he was the team leader in passing. In the final game
of the season with Southern Cal, however, he played at left halfback
and did catch three passes, good for 26 yards.
He carried the ball
94 times for 420 yards and completed 59 of 111 passes for 917 yards,
three touchdowns and a completion percentage of .532. This gave him a
total of 1,337 yards on the ground and in the air. He scored 56 points
on seven touchdowns and 14 conversions. He accounted for more than
half the Irish scores with his seven tallies and three touchdown
Paul also averaged 50
minutes a game playing time, including 30 minutes as a fullback and 48
minutes as a right halfback. He returned 16 kickoffs for 496 yards and
one touchdown, punted 33 times for an average of 37.6 yards, returned
four punts 63 yards, broke up seven passes, made 55 tackles, and
returned two interceptions 59 yards.
Hornung stands 6-2,
weighs 205 pounds and is enrolled in the College of Commerce at Notre
Dame. As a high school athlete at Flaget in Louisville, Paul was voted
the outstanding high school football player in Kentucky in 1952 and
was elected to both the all-state football and basketball teams. In
high school, he set a tournament record in basketball in the
Louisville Invitational by scoring 32 points in a game. As a
sophomore at Notre Dame he won his basketball monogram, appearing in
ten games and scoring 61 points. He is the son of Mrs. Loretto Hornung.
Because of his
curly-blonde hair, Paul receives much kidding about his good looks.
When he came out of the Purdue game last year with a bloody nose and
sort of messed up generally, one of his teammates greeted him with the
sympathetic statement: "You'll never get to Hollywood now."
His teammates also kid him as being "the best looking player to
ever play for Notre Dame," and one of them often introduced him
in this manner at the Friday night football rallies in the old gym.
The good-natured kidding on his looks goes on all the time.
While he was still a
freshman at Notre Dame, Paul competed in the annual spring Varsity-Old
Timers game and threw for three touchdowns as he led the Varsity to a
49- 26 victory. Hornung thus began his sophmore season, 1954, as a
very promising quarterback candidate, but with all-american Ralph
Guglielmi holding forth at this position, Hornung was switched to
fullback in order that he might acquire some game experience. He
performed extremely well as a replacement for Don Schaefer and
finished fourth on the 1954 squad in individual rushing with 159 yards
in 23 carries, an average of 6.9.
During the 1955
season, Hornung returned to his quarterback post with incredible ease.
In his junior and senior years, he was a powerful runner from the
quarterback spot, turning the quarterback sneak into a perennial
scoring threat. His passing continually improved, and when there was a
clutch pass to be completed, Hornung more than likely completed it.
His play calling was above reproach and his ruggdd frame enabled him
to be a steady, sometime brilliant defensive back.
By actual count, he
came through in the clutch in 36 key third or fourth down situations
his junior year, and 31 his senior year. This takes into account the
number of times on third or fourth down he ran or passed for a first
down or touchdown.
In 1955, he was the
fourth ranking total offense leader in the nation; led the Notre Dame
squad in four statistical categories, and was runner-up in three
others. He led the Irish in passing, pass interceptions, scoring and
punting, and captured second place in kickoff returns, fumbles
recovered and rushing.
He completed 46 of
103 passes for 743 yards and nine touchdowns; intercepted five passes
for 59 yards; scored six touchdovms, five extra points and two field
goals for 47 points; punted 30 times for a 33.9 average; returned six
kickoffs 109 yards; recovered two fumbles; carried the ball 92 times
for 472 yards, a 5.1 average. Incidentally, one of his field goals was
a 38-yard boot, against SMU, and the longest for an Irish athlete
since post war days.
In the final game of
the 1955 season with Southern Cal, Paul passed and ran for 345 yards,
the single game collegiate high of the season, although Notre Dame
lost the game 42-20. Throughout the season he was responsible for
1,215 yards on 195 plays and also responsible for half the Notre Dame
touchdowns by throwing nine touchdown passes and scoring six times
in the 1955 Iowa contest was sufficient in itself to earn him a niche
in football's Hall of Fame. The Irish were trailing 14-7 with ten
minutes remaining when Hornung caught fire. He returned the Iowa
kickoff 23 yards to the ND 38. Then he completed three of four passes,
the last a 40 yard heave to Jim Morse for the touchdown. He then
booted the placement to tie the score. With five minutes remaining,
the Irish regained possession of the ball. Hornung again threw to
Morse, this time for 35 yards and the Irish were on the Hawkeye 9.
Three plays and a fifteen yard penalty later, Hornung calmly booted a
fourth down field goal from the 26 to give Notre Dame a 17-14 victory.