Johnny Lujack
Class: 2022 | Category: Heritage | Alma Mater: Connellsville, 1942 | Sports: Football, Basketball, Baseball, Track & Field

The list of all-time great Western Pennsylvania quarterbacks is a long and storied one. But before many of those others became WPIAL legends, there was Lujack, a former Connellsville star, Notre Dame standout and NFL All-Pro, who owns the distinction as the oldest living Heisman Trophy winner. Lujack won the award as college football’s top player in 1947, after leading the Fighting Irish to a second consecutive undefeated season. He won three national championships at Notre Dame under coach Frank Leahy (1943, 1946, 1947) and earned All-American honors in 1946 and 1947. He also was named the Associated Press Athlete of the Year in 1947, and appeared on the cover of that September’s issue of LIFE magazine. He’d taken over as the Irish’s quarterback as a sophomore, throwing for two touchdowns, running for another, and intercepting a pass in a 26-0 victory over Army. But his time in South Bend, Ind., was interrupted for nearly three years by his service in the Navy during World War II. He was a four-sport letterman at Notre Dame, also playing basketball, baseball, and running track. After college, he became a two-time All-Pro player for the Chicago Bears, first at safety and then as a quarterback. The Bears had drafted him in the first round. He played four seasons in the NFL, passing for more than 6,000 yards and 41 touchdowns. He led the league in passing yards (2,658) and passing touchdowns (23) in 1949. A year later, his 11 rushing touchdowns were the most by any NFL player that season. Yet, it all started in Connellsville, where he was a multi-sport standout. As a senior playing football for a team then nicknamed the Cokers, he led them to an 8-0-1 record, but a 13-13 tie to Brownsville dashed their hopes of winning a WPIAL title.