Doak Walker was one of the greatest college players ever. The Southern Methodist University triple threat was named All-American each year from 1947-1949 and won the 1948 Heisman Trophy.
As a sophomore tailback in 1947, Walker (born 1927) ran, passed, and kicked the Mustangs to an undefeated season. His 38.7-yard kickoff return average set an NCAA record.
After his Heisman-winning junior season, his face could be found on nearly every preseason football magazine.
Readers who delved inside could learn that Doak was his middle name (his first name was Ewell) and that he was expected to be even better as a senior.
Injuries held Walker back much of his final college season, though he was deservedly named to most All-American teams.
However, when it seemed he might again receive strong Heisman support, the modest star asked the committee to withdraw his name from consideration so that a player who'd been able to participate in all of his team's games might win.
Nevertheless, there were doubts that Walker could make it in the pros when he signed with the Detroit Lions. At 5'11" and 173 pounds, he was small and not enough of a "specialist" in any phase of his game.
He ended up specializing in everything! During his six pro seasons, Walker ran for a 4.9 average, caught 152 passes, kicked 183 extra points and 49 field goals, threw halfback passes, ran back kicks, punted a few times, and -- in a pinch -- played defense.
Walker led the NFL in scoring twice, in his first year with 128 points and in his final season. He was named All-NFL four times and selected for five Pro Bowls. With "The Doaker" at halfback, Detroit won three division titles and two NFL championships.
No doubt his signature play was his 67-yard dash off right tackle for the decisive touchdown against Cleveland in the 1952 championship game. Walker's election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1986 gave him enshrinement in both the college and pro halls.
To learn more about football greats, see:
- Great Football Players
- Great Offensive Football Players
- Great Defensive Football Players
- Great Football Coaches