Notre Dame's Second Heisman Trophy: Johnny Lujack (1947)

When Angelo Bertelli (‘44) was called into service by the Marine Corps in 1943, Johnny Lujack (’48) took over at quarterback and helped the Irish to a national championship. After spending nearly three years in the Navy, Lujack returned to Notre Dame for the 1946 season. Over the final two years of his college career, Lujack earned consensus All-American honors and the Fighting Irish did not lose a single game. The Connellsville, Penn. native’s best season came in 1947, when the senior became Notre Dame’s second Heisman Trophy winner. Lujack completed 61 of 109 passes for 777 yards and nine touchdowns, while also running for 139 yards and one touchdown on 12 carries, to top Michigan’s Bob Chappuis for the award. In this ‘Strong and True’ moment, look back on Lujack’s Notre Dame career and Heisman season in a collection of photos from the University of Notre Dame Archives.

1947 Heisman Trophy results
1. John Lujack, Notre Dame (742)
2. Bob Chappuis, Michigan (555)
3. Doak Walker, SMU (196)
4. Charley Conerly, Mississippi (186)
5. Harry Gilmer, Alabama (115)
6. Bobby Layne, Texas (74)
7. Chuck Bednarik, Penn (65)
8. Bill Swiacki, Columbia (61)

Lujack Heisman

Johnny Lujack holding his Heisman Trophy in 1947.


Lujack All-American

Lujack earned consensus All-American honors as a junior and senior in 1946 and 1947.


Lujack action pose

Lujack in a posed action photo, circa 1943. He spent nearly three years in the Navy, before returning to Notre Dame for the 1946 season.


Lujack 1946 Army game

Though he earned the Heisman for his offensive performance, one of the greatest plays of Lujack’s career came on defense. In Notre Dame’s “Game of the Century” against Army in 1946, Lujack tackled Doc Blanchard to preserve a scoreless tie between the #1 Cadets and #2 Fighting Irish.


Lujack drawings

Two drawings of Lujack by Bill Ellis. The second captures Lujack’s touchdown-saving tackle against Army in 1946.


Lujack 1943

Lujack was a member of three national championship teams while at Notre Dame, including the 1943 squad.


Lujack Life cover

The Irish quarterback appeared on the cover of Life on Sept. 29, 1947.


Lujack 1947 Purdue

Lujack runs against Purdue in 1947. The Irish won, 22-7.


Lujack 1947 action

Though he spent most of his time at quarterback, Lujack also played halfback during his Irish career.