Joe Bellino, Navy's first Heisman Trophy winner, dies at age 81

Navy football lost one of its legends Thursday when Joe Bellino died in his home state of Massachusetts at the age of 81. Bellino, the 1960 Heisman Trophy winner as a standout halfback for the Midshipmen, had been in failing health for some time.

Bellino was nicknamed the “Winchester Rifle” – a reference to his hometown and high school as well as his explosive running style. He was described by one newspaper reporter as “the player who was never caught from behind.”

He starred at Navy from 1958-1960 under head coach Wayne Hardin, rushing for 1,664 yards on 330 carries and scoring 31 touchdowns during his three-year career. The 5-foot-9, 185-pound speedster was also a dangerous return man and amassed 577 yards on kickoffs and 256 yards on punts...

A unanimous All-America selection, he was awarded the Heisman Trophy and Maxwell Trophy in 1960. It was an era when football players went both ways and Bellino was also an outstanding defensive back, recording an end zone interception to preserve Navy’s narrow victory over Army that year.

Bellino was the first of two Heisman Trophy winners at Navy, preceding quarterback Roger Staubach by three years...