Vic Janowicz, the Ohio State football star who won the 1950 Heisman Trophy, died on Tuesday at Riverside Methodist Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. He was 66.
The cause was cancer, a hospital spokesman, Chris Verrilli, said.
Janowicz's Heisman season established him as one of the great multiple threats in college football. He played halfback in the single wing, safety on defense, and also punted and did the place-kicking. He easily outpolled his rivals in the Heisman balloting. At the time, he was only the third junior to win the award.
Janowicz was the eighth of nine children born to parents who emigrated from Poland and settled in Elyria, Ohio. At Elyria High School he was not only a National Honor Society scholar but also all-state and captain of the football, basketball and baseball teams in both his junior and senior years.
Two major league baseball teams, the Cincinnati Reds and the Detroit Tigers, offered him contracts and 60 colleges sought to recruit him.
John Galbreath, head of one of the nation's largest construction and land development companies, became his patron and steered Janowicz to Ohio State with assurance of a job, regardless of how his football career turned out.
Galbreath had no concerns.
In Janowicz's first varsity season, Ohio State Coach Wes Fesler had so many proven offensive backs that Janowicz played defensive back. When Ohio State, the Big Ten champion, defeated California, 17-14, in the Rose Bowl, he intercepted two passes, returning one 41 yards for a touchdown.
The next season was his big one. Playing about 50 minutes a game as a single-wing tailback on offense, safety on defense plus punter and place-kicker, Janowicz was the hero Saturday after Saturday. He attempted and completed six passes, four for touchdowns, against Pittsburgh. In an 83-21 victory over Iowa, he accounted for 46 points by running or passing for six touchdowns and kicking eight extra points. He led the Big Ten in total offense with 703 yards.
However, Ohio State lost to Michigan in a blizzard, 9-3, as Janowicz kicked a field goal and punted 21 times for a record 685 yards. A punt of his that was blocked led to the Wolverines' touchdown and also the Big Ten title.
Even so, he was voted the Heisman Trophy in a runaway with 633 points to 280 for Kyle Rote of Southern Methodist and 231 for Reds Bagnell of Pennsylvania.
His senior season was different. A new coach, Woody Hayes, altered the offense and Janowicz's role was reduced by this and also by injuries.
He then served in the Army for a year and signed a baseball contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates. But in two seasons with the Pirates, mostly as a catcher, he hit only .214 and was released. He immediately jumped to the National Football League and the Washington Redskins, becoming a instant force.
During the preseason, in August 1956, Janowicz learned that his daughter, Diana, had cerebral palsy. Four days later, he was in an auto accident in California, sustaining a head injury first diagnosed as a concussion. It eventually led to paralysis of the left side of his body and he never played football again. The daughter died in 1964.
Thanks to the help of physicians and trainers at Ohio State, Janowicz made a full recovery. He became a broadcaster of Buckeye football games; an account executive with a manufacturing firm in Columbus and, since 1986, an administrative assistant to the state auditor.