Heisman Seasons: Doak Walker

Doak Walker won the 1948 Heisman trophy, the second winner from the SWC and the second from a Texas school. (Davey O'Brien won the award in 1938 while playing for TCU.) Walker played in a different era, playing both ways and handling kicking duties for the 9-1-1 Mustangs. The Mustangs would play in the Cotton Bowl and beat an Oregon team led by Norm Van Brocklin. 

In an era of Swiss army knives, Walker was one of the best. He was second on the 1948 Mustangs in rushing yards, passing yards, and receptions. He led SMU in receiving yards, made 22 of 29 extra points, returned a punt for touchdown and intercepted 3 passes. He also punted for a 42 yard average. 

Here's Walker breaking off a 70 yard touchdown run for the Mustangs. I assume the footage is just slow because otherwise I would have won the 1948 Heisman and been considered a fast twitch speedster.

Based in part on Walker's popularity, SMU moved games from Ownby stadium on campus to the Cotton Bowl which at the time seated 30,000. The Cotton Bowl became known as "the House the Doak Built."

Walker was a Highland Park grad and went on to a Hall of Fame career with the Detroit Lions. At HP Walker lettered in football, baseball, basketball, track and swimming. Walker served in the Merchant Marines as World War II wound down but was discharged early and enrolled on the Hilltop shortly thereafter. 

Walker only played six seasons with the Lions, wanting to get out with "all my teeth and both my knees." Walker's selection to the Hall of Fame in Canton didn't come until 1986 and was at the request of the Old Timers Committee based on his impact on the game.  

As to the 1948 Heisman campaign, Walker finished ahead of Charlie Choo Choo Justice from North Carolina and third place finisher Chuck Bednarik. Choo Choo justice played running back and gained over 4,800 all purpose yards and scored 64 touchdowns in his North Carolina career. Choo Choo has the distinction of finishing second in the Heisman twice, to Walker in '48 and to Leon Hart in 1949. Bednarik is interesting because he played offensive line and linebacker at Penn. 

Posted on December 9, 2015 and filed under Southwest Round-Up.