Packers Great Paul Hornung Awarded Notre Dame Scholarship Based Solely On High School Game Film
In a day and age when college football prospects receive star ratings, it may surprise you that Pro Football Hall of Fame running back Paul Hornung wasn’t scouted in-person by the University of Notre Dame.
Hornung, a four-time NFL champion and the 1961 NFL Most Valuable Player, died on Nov. 13, 2020 at age 84.
On March 5, 1953, The Courier-Journal in Louisville published a story touting the fact that Hornung and his Flaget High School teammate Sherrill Sipes were offered scholarships based “solely on the strength of what high school game movies show they can do.”
Hornung was an outstanding three-sport athlete (football, basketball and baseball) at Flaget High, which closed in 1974.
On the gridiron, Hornung was celebrated for his ball-handing in the Flaget team’s Split-T formation. He began playing on varsity as a freshman.
During his senior season in 1952, Hornung passed for 17 touchdowns and ran for four more. He also also booted 29 extra points. Hornung and Sipes, one of the team’s running backs, led Flaget to a 9-1-1 record.
The Braves' only loss was to Oak Ridge High School in Tennessee. The tie came against Tennessee’s Chattanooga Central High School. Its win over St. Xavier at the end of November 1952 led to Flaget being named as Kentucky’s AAA state champion.
According to a poll conducted by The Courier-Journal in 1959, the ’52 Flaget team was voted as the high school football team of the 1950s and Hornung was voted as the newspaper’s Player of the Decade. Both Hornung and Sipes closed out their scholastic careers by being named to Kentucky’s First Team All-State squad.
At Notre Dame, Hornung was a two-time All-American at quarterback. In his1956 Heisman Trophy-winning season, Hornung led Notre Dame in passing, rushing, points scored, kickoff and punt returns, and punting. He also played defense, leading the team in passes broken up and coming in second in interceptions and tackles.
In 1957, Hornung became the first Heisman Trophy winner to be selected No. 1 overall in the NFL Draft. During his ten-year career with the Green Bay Packers, Hornung won four NFL championships, earned MVP honors in 1961 and First Team All-Pro honors twice, and led the league in rushing touchdowns in 1960.
Nicknamed “The Golden Boy,” Hornung was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1985 and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1986.
Photo courtesy of the Flaget Alumni Association.
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