There are now 57 days remaining until the Indiana Hoosiers kick-off the 2016 season in Miami against the Florida International Golden Panthers. Join us each day for each part of our 100-day countdown to the opener! Take a step back in the Hoosier time machine and learn about former Indiana great, Corby Davis.
Written By: Nick Holmes (@HoosierHolmes)
Corby Davis (Past Hoosier)
What do former Hoosiers Tevin Coleman, Jordan Howard, Geno Johnson and Tracey Porter all have in common aside from being some of the best ever to sport the Cream and Crimson? For one, they were all recipient’s of Indiana’s Corby Davis Award, an honor at one time given as the team’s Mental Attitude Award, now presented to the Hoosiers most outstanding running back.
However, unless you are an Indiana Football Historian, there’s a good chance you might be asking right now, who was Corby Davis?
Richard Corbett "Corby" Davis was born on December 8, 1914 in Lowell, Indiana, a small town in the northwest part of the state, just south of Gary. Davis was a standout athlete year round at Lowell High School, where he earned 12 varsity letters between football, basketball, and baseball. He shined most brightly on the gridiron earning an All-State selection at left guard and on the hardwood where he was named All-Conference.
Davis decided to continue his studies and athletic career at Indiana, focusing on football After playing on the offensive line in high school, Davis starred in the backfield for the Hoosiers, although starring might be an understatement.
“The greatest fullback in America.” Coach Bo McMillin called him. “He makes the hard plays look easy. And when the going gets tough, he gets better.”
In 1935 he was a member of the All-Indiana University Team. In 1937 he received the following honors; IU's Balfour Outstanding Player Award; All-American Team; North American Newspaper All-America Board of Football First Team; Coaches' All-American Team; The Captains' All-American Team (chosen by over 30 football captains in the country); Associated Press All-Star First Team; Liberty Magazine All-Players Choice All-American First Team; New York Sun and Newsweek All-American First Team; Chicago Tribune Silver Football Award and All-Star Team; Big Ten Most Valuable Player; Kate Smith All-American Team.
He was a member of All-East Team in East-West Shiner’s Game in San Francisco 1938, where the game ended in a 0-0 tie. Davis also played in 1938’s College All-Star game that took place in Soldier Field against the Washington Redskins. Davis pounded his way in for a score to lead the All Stars to a 28-16 victory over the DC ball club. He was joined by fellow Hoosiers Jim Birr, Frankie Filchock and McMillin coached the team
During the National Football League’s 1938 Draft Corby was selected by the Cleveland Rams, making him the first and only football Hoosier to be selected number one overall. His career stats were 143 carries for 382 yards and 4 touchdowns and he made 19 grabs for 133 yards. He played professionally for four seasons until he was drafted again, this time into the US Army in 1943.
Despite being over some 4,000-miles away from home, Davis was able to bring a little normality to American soldiers’ lives. While stationed in London, in addition to his other duties, Davis was tasked with putting together a team of eleven to play in the proposed England and continental Europe GI football league. While I could not determine whether the games actually took place, the thought alone had to be a big morale booster for himself and his fellow GIs.
Unfortunately, Davis was wounded while stationed in France, ending his football career.
However, while his playing career was over, Davis could not stay away from the game he loved so much. He made his way back onto the field again, but this time no pads or helmet, trading a football jersey for zebra stripes.
Davis began officiating in 1946 in the All-American Professional Conference and did so until 1949. He then made his way back into the Big Ten Conference as an official from 1951-1961. During that time period he had the opportunity to officiate two high profile games, one being the Chicago Tribune All-Star Game in 1957 and the other, the granddaddy of them all, the 1957 Rose Bowl Game.
Sadly, Davis’ life was tragically cut short after suffering an accident while on a fishing trip in Maine with a close group of his friends.
Even after his untimely passing Davis continued to be recognized for his stellar athletic career. On May 16, 1976 he was inducted into the Indiana Football Hall of Fame and was selected into IU’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 1991.
Share any memories or recollections you have of Corby Davis as a player or person in the comments section (or on the message boards) and be sure to come back to Hoosier Huddle each day during our countdown!