Leslie "Les" Horvath (October 12, 1921 – November 14, 1995) was an American football quarterback and halfback who won the Heisman Trophy while playing for Ohio State University in 1944. Horvath was the first Ohio State player to win the Heisman, an award given to the best college football player in the United States. The school retired his jersey number 22 in 2001.
Horvath grew up in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio and became a standout high school athlete despite his small stature. He entered Ohio State in 1939 on a work scholarship, but tried out for and made the football team the following year. He played as a reserve halfback on a 1942 team coached by Paul Brown that won Ohio State's first-ever national championship. Horvath graduated that year and moved to Ohio State's dental school. In 1944, however, acting Ohio State football coach Carroll Widdoes asked Horvath to rejoin the team, taking advantage of a World War II-era rule allowing graduate students with remaining eligibility to play. Horvath agreed, and helped lead the Buckeyes to a 9–0 record and a second-place showing in the AP Poll. He won the Heisman and was named an All-American after the season.
Horvath graduated from dental school in 1945 and served as a dental officer in the U.S. Navy for two years. Following his discharge, he played professionally for the Los Angeles Rams in 1947 and 1948 before being released and signing with the Cleveland Browns in 1949. The Browns won the All-America Football Conference championship that year. Horvath retired from playing in 1950 and moved to Los Angeles to practice dentistry. He lived there for the rest of his life. Horvath was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1966 and the Ohio State athletics hall of fame in 1977.
By Dean Hanley
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