Stan Heath dies at 83

RENO, Nev. -- Stan Heath, an All-America quarterback at Nevada who finished fifth in the voting for the Heisman Trophy in 1948, has died. He was 83.

Heath died at his home in Jesup, Ga., on Sunday. That's the same day Nevada cracked The Associated Press poll for the first time since that 1948 team.

Heath had been battling cancer. The family plans a private memorial service but the date has not been set, Ray Howard of Howard-Jones-Nobles Funeral Home in Jesup said Tuesday.

Heath was an inaugural member of the University of Nevada Athletic Hall of Fame and one of the quarterbacks on Nevada's Team of the Century, sharing the honor with Chris Vargas.

"When I played here, he was my idol," said Nevada coach Chris Ault, who was the Wolf Pack's quarterback in the early 1970s.

"He played on that 1948 team, was the first All-American this university ever had," Ault said Tuesday. "He loved this university. He followed us and was an avid fan of our football program. He was a very, very special Wolf Pack guy who now gets to look down on us from above."

Heath led the nation in passing, total offense and touchdown passes in 1948. The Green Bay Packers made him the fifth pick in the NFL draft that year at a salary of $15,000 per year. He played one year in Green Bay before moving to Canada, where he played for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Calgary Stampeders.

Heath starred on Nevada's 1947 and 1948 teams that went a combined 18-4 and played in bowl games both years under coach Joe Sheetketski.

In a 1948 game against Oklahoma City, Heath threw five touchdown passes, a school record that stood unmatched for 30 years and unbroken until Vargas threw seven against UNLV in 1993.

Heath spent 20 years as a cattle rancher in Nebraska and became close friends with longtime Nebraska coach Bob Devaney, starting a "Beef Club" for the Cornhuskers.

He and his wife, Jeanette, lived in Palmer, Alaska, for nine years before relocating to Georgia six years ago to be near Jeanette's son and his family.

Heath is survived by his wife; daughters Heather Heath-Certo and Holly Heath; and stepsons Kenneth, Craig and Sid Allen.