Leon Burton

1990 Greater Flint Afro-American Hall of Fame Inductee


Daughters: Lynea, Nicole
Sons: Gary, Pierre

Leon was a two sports star at Flint Northern. In football he earned honors on the Michigan All State team, an All Valley halfback while leading Northern to a Saginaw Valley Championship, scoring ten touchdowns and rushing for 1,020 yards. That spring in track he set the city meet record and the Dort Field record in the 180 yard low hurdles with a 20.5. In the state track meet Leon won the 180 yard low hurdles in a record time of 19.1, which at that time was .2 tenths off the national record. In the 1953 Central Michigan Indoor Meet he turned in a record time of 6.2 in the 60 yard dash.

An automobile accident almost ended Leon’s career in 1954, however, he recovered and in 1955 enrolled at Arizona State University. In his freshman year he was voted Freshman of the Year in the Border Conference. He set an Arizona freshman record, of 694 yards and 10 touchdowns (average carry of 10.2 yards). He was injured as a sophomore, yet scored five touchdowns. In his junior year, 1957, the Flint Flyer turned up the jets. Leon became the first football player from Flint to lead the nation in rushing, 1,151 yards, best rushing average of 9.62 per carry and lead the nation in scoring 96 points. He set Arizona State single rushing record gaining 243 yards in six carries against Hardin-Simmons.

In 1957 Leon scored 16 touchdowns, five of those 16 touchdowns were 75 yards or more. He also was named to the All Border Conference Team in 1957.

In track at Arizona State he holds the 100 yard dash record 9.5 (1957), and the Border Conference 100 yard dash record 9.6 (1955). Between 1955-58, Leon scored 42 touchdowns at Arizona State and a career rushing average of 8.03, is second in NCAA history (1955-1958).

He played in post season games, Copper Bowl, All American Bowl and East-West Shrine Game in 1958.

As a professional football player Leon led the American Football League in kick-off returns as a N.Y. Titan with a 28.4 average return gaining 809 yards.

Drafted by the San Francisco 49ers, eighth draft choice, he was cut because of his size. Leon went to Canada for one year then came back to play for the N.Y. Titans in 1960-61. After the Titans he played with the Grand Rapids Jets in the United Football League

Leon was inducted into the Arizona State Sports Hall of Fame in 1978, and the Greater Flint Hall of Fame in 1987.