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Remembering College Football Legend Doak Walker 130

Posted on January 01, 2012 by Dean Hybl

Doak Walker won the 1948 Heisman Trophy and finished third in the voting in 1947 and 1949.

It was 85 years ago today, January 1, 1927, that one of the great legends of college football was born in Dallas, Texas. At a time soon after World War II when college athletics was at its peak, Doak Walker became a national hero and Heisman Trophy winner for the Southern Methodist Mustangs.

A high school teammate of another Texas football legend, Bobby Layne, Walker was a triple threat as a running back, defensive back and kicker. While Layne decided to play collegiately at the University of Texas, Walker chose to stay in Dallas and attend SMU.

While Walker played football, basketball and baseball at SMU, it was on the gridiron where he gained his greatest fame.

After playing briefly for the Mustangs as a freshman in 1945 and then serving 1946 in the Army, Walker started to build his legacy during the 1947 campaign. Dangerous both as a runner and passer, Walker quickly developed into one of the top players in the country.

The 1947 Mustangs won their first nine games before ending the year with ties against TCU (19-19) in the regular season finale and Penn State (13-13) in the Cotton Bowl. In the game against TCU, Walker had runs of 80, 61 and 56 yards. He finished the year third in the Heisman Trophy balloting behind John Lujack and Bob Chappius.

The next season Walker claimed the Heisman Trophy while leading SMU to a 9-1-1 record and their second straight Southwest Conference Championship.

It was during this season that SMU began playing their home games permanently in the newly expanded Cotton Bowl, which became known as “The House That Doak Built.” The season ended with a 21-13 victory over the University of Oregon (quarterbacked by Norm Van Brocklin) in the Cotton Bowl.

After starting the 1949 season with a 5-1-1 record, the Mustangs lost their final three games to end the season with a 5-4-1 mark.

Though Walker did not repeat as the Heisman Trophy Winner (Walker finished third behind Leon Hart and Charlie Justice), he did earn consensus All-America honors for the third straight year.

SMU posted a 23-5-4 record during Walker’s final three seasons and won a pair of SWC championships. He completed his college career with 288 points, 2,076 rushing yards, 1,786 passing yards (completing 128 of 22 attempts), 454 yards receiving, 764 yards returning kickoffs and 750 yards returning punts.

Walker was selected by the New York Bulldogs with the third pick of the 1949 NFL Draft, but never played for the Bulldogs as he returned to SMU for the 1949 season and then was traded to the Detroit Lions. Read the rest of this entry →

10 Best NFL Players Who Won the Heisman Trophy 15

Posted on July 21, 2011 by A.J. Foss

Cam Newton will try to join a small group of former Heisman Trophy winners who have been successful in the NFL.

2010 Heisman Trophy Winner Cam Newton is set to begin his career as a NFL quarterback with the Carolina Panthers.

Newton will have fight the Heisman “curse” in which former Heisman Trophy winners do not have productive NFL careers.

However, there have been a number of Heisman winners that not only had successful careers in the NFL, but some ended up in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Here are now the 10 Best NFL Players who won the Heisman Trophy:
10. Jim Plunkett-For the first half of his career, Plunkett was a bust as he struggled with the New England Patriots and San Francisco 49ers following his Heisman win at Stanford in 1970.

Plunkett joined the Oakland Raiders in 1978 to become its backup quarterback and in 1980 became the starter when incumbent Dan Pastorini broke his leg and led the Raiders to a Super Bowl title and was the game’s MVP with a 13-of-21 performance for 261 yards and three touchdowns.

Plunkett remained with the Raiders for six more seasons and led the Raiders to another Super Bowl title in 1983.

9. Paul Hornung-“The Golden Boy” won the Heisman in 1956 despite his Notre Dame Fighting Irish winning only two games, then became a vital part in the Green Bay Packers’ dynasty of the 1960s with his versatility as a halfback, receiver, and kicker.

In his nine NFL seasons, Hornung accounted for a total of 760 points and led the league in scoring from 1959-61, including a then-record 176 points in 1960 and the NFL MVP in 1961.

Hornung helped the Packers to four NFL championships despite missing the 1963 season for betting on NFL games.

8. Eddie George-The 1995 Heisman winner Ohio State became one of the toughest and best running backs during his time in the NFL.

George played nine seasons in the NFL, all but one with the Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans, and never missed a game to injury during his time with the Titans.

In his eight seasons with the Titans, George rushed for over 1,000 yards in each season except 2001 where he rushed for 942 yards, and was named to four straight Pro Bowls form 1997 to 2000.

George was a part of the Titans’ Super Bowl team in 1999 where he rushed for 95 yards and two touchdowns in Tennessee’s 23-16 defeat to the St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXIV. Read the rest of this entry →

Cam Newton Wins the Heisman Trophy, But Will He Keep It? 0

Posted on December 12, 2010 by Dean Hybl

Cam Newton easily won the Heisman Trophy for 2010.

If this were a perfect world, Cam Newton might have been the first unanimous winner in Heisman Trophy history. Few college players have so overwhelmed a season as Newton has done in 2010. Every time his team the Auburn Tigers needed a big play to keep their undefeated season going, Newton used either his arm or legs to lift the Tigers to victory.

However, we all know that this is not a perfect world and unfortunately while a strange off-the-field situation didn’t cost Newton the Heisman Trophy, it did cost him a chance at the highest point total and largest margin of victory in the 76 year history of the award.

Even with being omitted on 105 of 886 completed ballots, Newton still eclipsed second place Andrew Luck by more than 1,100 points. Of the ballots where he was included, 93% had Newton rated first.

Now, the question becomes whether Newton will be able to keep the Heisman or if at some point he becomes the second winner in the last half dozen years to forfeit the award.

In his defense, Newton has starkly claimed and the NCAA has ruled that he was unaware that his father, Cecil Newton, was shopping around his services with the intent to receive money from the college that signed Cam Newton after he spent the 2009 college football season at Blinn Junior College.

These reports began to surface in late October while Newton and the Tigers were rolling through the Southeastern Conference (SEC) on their way to an undefeated regular season and conference championship. No evidence has ever surfaced showing that Auburn made illegal payments in the situation. Read the rest of this entry →

The Surprising Fall of Matt Leinart 1

Posted on September 06, 2010 by Dean Hybl

Matt Leinart was never able to emerge as the clear starter in Arizona.

NFL history is full of quarterbacks who were high draft picks or Heisman Trophy winners but were unable to make it in professional football. However, I remain surprised that it appears likely that the Matt Leinart’s name will soon be added to that list.

Many of the highly regarded college quarterbacks in recent history who didn’t cut it as NFL starters really can’t be seen as surprises. Some, like Andre Ware, David Klingler, Joey Harrington and Ty Detmer were products of the system they ran while in college. Others, such as Akili Smith, JaMarcus Russell, Dan McGwire and Ryan Leaf had only limited college experience and were drafted more based on potential than on-the-field success.

Matt Leinart was not only the quarterback of two national championship squads and the winner of a Heisman Trophy, but he had the talent that would have likely made him the first pick in the NFL Draft had he left following his junior season in 2004.

Instead he returned to lead the USC Trojans to within a whisker of a third national title and then was selected with the 10th pick in the 2006 NFL Draft. At the time, his drop to the tenth spot was attributed to the strength of that draft, but in reality it may have been the first sign of things to come.

Then Arizona coach Dennis Green was thrilled to have Leinart fall to the Cardinals and put him in the starting lineup for 11 games during his rookie season as a replacement for former league MVP Kurt Warner. As it turns out, that was the highlight of Leinart’s four years with the Cardinals. Read the rest of this entry →

Crimson Tide Finally Quench Heisman Trophy Thirst 1

Posted on December 12, 2009 by Dean Hybl
SEC Championship - Alabama v Florida

Mark Ingram is the first player in the storied history of Alabama football to win the Heisman Trophy.

In their storied football history, the University of Alabama could boast of 12 National Champions and 92 first team All-Americans, but until Saturday night held the dubious distinction of having the most football wins of any school without a Heisman Trophy winner.

That finally changed with the announcement that sophomore running back Mark Ingram had edged out Stanford running back Toby Gerhart to win the 2009 award.

Ingram is actually the first Crimson Tide player to ever finish better than third in the Heisman voting. The previous best finish for an Alabama player was a third place showing by David Palmer in 1993.

After going 72 years without ever having a sophomore claim the award, Ingram’s selection marked the third straight year that a sophomore has claimed college football’s most prestigious award.

Read the rest of this entry →

Heisman Trophy is No Guarantee For NFL Success 10

Posted on December 10, 2009 by Dean Hybl
After winning the Heisman Trophy in 1966, Steve Spurrier spent a decade in the NFL primarily as a backup quarterback.

After winning the Heisman Trophy in 1966, Steve Spurrier spent a decade in the NFL primarily as a backup quarterback.

There are five talented college players being considered for the prestigious Heisman Trophy this week. However, if any of them truly want to have a long and successful NFL career they might want to hope that someone else’s name gets called on Saturday night.

Since the Heisman Trophy was first awarded in 1935, it has gained a somewhat notorious reputation for being a harbinger of NFL futility, rather than NFL success.

Of the 73 men who have won the award, only eight have gone on to earn induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

In fact, the number of Heisman winners who could be branded as NFL “busts” is significantly greater than the number who went on to be immortalized with a “bust” in Canton.

There are many reasons for this intriguing circumstance.

In the early years of the award, the NFL was still growing and salaries were sometimes less than players could earn in other careers.

The first Heisman winner, Jay Berwanger from the University of Chicago, was the first pick in the first-ever NFL Draft by the Philadelphia Eagles. However, Berwanger chose not to pursue an NFL career and never suited up as a professional. Read the rest of this entry →

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      After years of struggling to find a consistent quarterback, the Chicago Bears now hope third-year player Mitchell Trubisky will be their quarterback for years to come. As the Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month we are recognizing the best quarterback in Chicago Bears history.

      Chosen out of Columbia–where he played tailback–with the second pick in the 1939 NFL Draft, Sid Luckman spent 12 seasons as the quarterback for the Bears and led them to five NFL Championship Game appearances and four titles.

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