Davis, nicknamed "Mr. Outside", won the Maxwell Award in 1944 and the Heisman Trophy in 1946. He was also among the runners up in 1944 and 1945. Blanchard, his teammate, won the award in 1945. Davis also was named the Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year in 1946. He also captured the Walter Camp Trophy during his career.
He and his twin brother Ralph played high school football at Bonita High School in La Verne, California. In 1942, Davis led the Bearcats to an 11-0 record and the school's first-ever football championship, earning the Southern Section Player of the Year award. In 1989, Bonita's stadium was dedicated in his name. The brothers were close and had originally planned to attend USC, but when their Congressman agreed to sponsor both him and his brother with appointments to West Point they decided to play football there.
As a collegian, Davis scored a then-record 59 touchdowns. He still holds the all-time record for most yards averaged per carry in a season, with 11.5 yards in 1945. Together with Blanchard, they set a then-record 97 career touchdowns by a pair of teammates. (The record was broken by University of Southern California backs Reggie Bush and LenDale White, who had 99 career touchdowns.) In 2007, Davis was ranked #13 on ESPN's Top 25 Players In College Football History list.
Davis was a unanimous three-time All-America halfback in football and also starred in baseball, basketball and track while at West Point. During his time at Army, the Cadets enjoyed three unbeaten seasons under Coach Blaik.
He averaged 8.3 yards per carry throughout his career and an astounding 11.5 yards per carry in 1945, both respective records that still stand today. Davis led the nation in 1944 with 120 points and scored 59 touchdowns, including eight on his freshman squad, in his career. His single-season mark of 20 touchdowns stood as a record for 10 years.
Davis was married three times. In 1948 he dated actress Elizabeth Taylor. From 1951 to 1952 he was married to the AmericanactressTerry Moore. At the time of his death, Davis was survived by his wife, Yvonne Ameche Davis, a son, Ralph, and a stepson, John Slack III.