francis sam
Sam Francis
  • All-around athlete
  • Member of the 1936 Olympic team
  • Three sport letterman at the University of Nebraska
  • All-American in both football and track at Nebraska
  • Brother of Alex Francis
Francis, Sam
Inducted 2003

Born: October 26, 1913 - Dunbar, NE

Died: April 23, 2002 - Springfield, Missouri

Graduated: Decatur Community High School, 1933; University of Nebraska, 1937; MS - University of Iowa, 1939

Overview

Harrison Sam Francis of Oberlin was the one that got away - from the Kansas schools, that is. It was the University of Nebraska, and its football and track programs which reaped the benefits of Francis attending college for the Big Red. A member of the College Football Hall of Fame, Francis is still remembered as one of the greatest all-around athletes ever to play for the Cornhuskers.

High School Highlights

As an athlete at Oberlin High School, Francis won the gold medal (for all classes) during the 1933 State Outdoor Track meet and led his teams to Northwest Kansas League championships in three different sports as a senior. He later competed in the National Interscholastic Track and Field Meet in Chicago.

All-Around Athlete

Francis lettered in football, basketball, and track at Nebraska and was an All-Big Six selection in football in 1935 and '36. He finished second in the Heisman Trophy balloting to Yale's Larry Kelley in 1936 and led the fans' voting for the 1937 College All-Star Game in Chicago. In track, Francis earned three letters and was a member of the 1936 U.S. Olympic team, finishing fourth in the shot put in Berlin. He was the Big Six indoor and outdoor champion in the shot put for two years and was the NCAA champion in 1937. Francis is one of just four athletes to be named All-American in both football and track. Two of the others were Jim Thorpe and Ollie Matson. Francis played professional football for four seasons and also was the head football coach at Kansas State in 1946.