Hall of Fame - Inductee Detail

Sam "Sam" Francis

Sam "Sam" Francis


  • Position: Fullback
  • School: Nebraska
  • High School: Oberlin, KS (Decatur County HS)
  • Years: 1934-1936
  • Inducted: 1977
  • Place of Birth: Dunbar, NE
  • Date of Birth: Oct 26, 1913
  • Place of Death: Springfield, MO
  • Date of Death: Apr 23, 2002
  • Jersey Number: 38
  • Height: 6-1
  • Weight: 207

Member Biography

Harrison F. "Sam" Francis was one of the most talented athletes ever produced at the University of Nebraska. In addition to being runner-up to Larry Kelley for the 1936 Heisman Trophy, Francis was an Olympic track athlete. Francis felt his best sports in high school were baseball and basketball. The great Kansas basketball coach Phog Allen even convinced Francis to become a Jayhawk. Before school started, Sam spent two weeks on the KU campus. Feeling uncomfortable, he left for Lincoln to enroll at Nebraska. In his three years with the Cornhuskers, Francis was part of two Big Six Conference championship teams. He was a shot putter for the Nebraska track team and won this event at the Texas, Kansas and Drake Relays in 1936 and 1937. In 1936 he was fourth in the shot put at the Olympics, missing a medal by a half-inch. After his collegiate career, Francis played professionally for four seasons before the onset of World War II. Francis served in the Army and later accepted a regular commission, which he held until his retirement as a colonel in 1966. He served one year as head football coach at Kansas State, in 1947, with a 0-10 record. Francis was a native of Dunbar, Nebraska, and attended Decatur County High School. He won the NCAA shot put in 1937. His pro career, 1937-40, was with the Chicago Bears, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Brooklyn Dodgers. He died April 23, 2002, at age 88.