• 2003 Kansas Sports Hall of Fame Inductee<?xml:namespace prefix="o" ns="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office"?>
  • 1977 College Football Hall of Fame Inductee
  • 1972 Nebraska Football Hall of Fame Inductee
  • 1937 Drafted First Overall by the <?xml:namespace prefix="st1" ns="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags"?>Philadelphia Eagles
  • 1937 NCAA Shot Put National Champion
  • 1936 Heisman Trophy Runner-Up
  • 1936 First-Team All-American

Sam Francis was born on October 26, 1913 in Dunbar Nebraska and passed away on April 23, 2002 in SpringfieldMissouri.

Sam Francis is one of the greatest athletes in Husker sports history. Not only did Francis place runner-up in the Heisman Trophy to Yale’s Larry Kelley in 1936, but he also placed fourth in the shot put at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin. Francis is one of only four athletes to be named a First-Team All-American in both football and track.

Francis is the one that got away from Kansas, legendary Kansas basketball coach Phog Allen believed that Francis was going to be a Jayhawk, but before school started Francis spend two week on the KU campus and felt uncomfortable. Francis then left for Lincoln and was to be a Cornhusker.


While at Nebraska Francis was part of two Big Six Conference champions and competed in the shot put on the track team. Francis was an All-Big Six selection in football in 1935 and 1936 and a First-Team All-American in 1936. Francis also led the fan’s voting for the 1937 College All-State Game in Chicago.

Francis also excelled in track at Nebraska as he won the shot put at the Texas, Kansas and Drake Relays in 1936 and 1937. Francis also won the Big Six indoor and outdoor championships in the shot put twice and was the NCAA champion in 1937.

After college Francis continued into the NFL where he was the first overall pick in the 1937 Draft by the Philadelphia Eagles. Francis would play for four years in the NFL and also played for the Chicago Bears, Pittsburgh Pirates and Brooklyn Dodgers. Francis’ NFL career was cut short when he left to serve in the Army during World War II. Francis also tried his hand at coaching when he was the head coach at KansasState in 1947.

For his athletic accomplishments, Francis was inducted into the Nebraska Football Hall of Fame in 1972, the College Football Hall of Fame in 1977, and the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame in 2003.


Before Nebraska (Oberlin)
At Oberlin Francis won the all class gold medal during the 1933 State Outdoor Track Meet. Francis also led teams to three different Northwest Kansas League Championships as a senior. Francis also competed in the National Interscholastic Track and Field Meet in Chicago.