Actor joins Universal drama

Dennis Quaid will star in “The Express,” a Universal drama about football player Ernie Davis, the first black player to win the Heisman Trophy who died of leukemia.

Gary Fleder will direct, and John Davis will produce.

Quaid will play Ben Schwartzwalder, the head football coach at Syracuse Univ. who watched Davis come in and restore the Orangemen as a national power. Studio is now finalizing candidates to play Davis. Production kicks off in March.

Originally drafted by Scott Williams and rewritten by “Blood Diamond” scribe Charles Leavitt, “The Express” tells the story of Davis, who never got to play professionally, dying at age 23.

Quaid is currently shooting the Noam Murro-directed “Smart People” opposite Sarah Jessica Parker and Thomas Haden Church

He’s repped by WMA.

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