Dead, Felix Anthony “Doc” Blanchard on April 19, 2009 at the age of 85, he is best known as the college football player who became the first ever junior to win the Heisman Trophy, Maxwell Award and was the first ever football player to win the James E. Sullivan Award, all in 1945.
Born on December 11, 1924 in McColl, South Carolina His father was a doctor and had played college football at Tulane University and Wake Forest University. The Blanchards moved from McColl, South Carolina to Dexter, Iowa in 1929.
The Blanchards then moved to Bishopville, South Carolina two years later. Blanchard, nicknamed “Little Doc” due to his father’s occupation, attended high school at Saint Stanislaus College in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi.
He led the school’s football team, the Rockachaws, to an undefeated season during his senior year in 1941. In 1946, Blanchard missed the first two games of the season due to an injury to his knee. In June 1946 his class was divided into two classes (1947 and 1948) to transition back to a peacetime four-year curriculum from the wartime three-year curriculum instituted in October 1942.
Both Blanchard and Davis were placed in the final three-year group, the Class of 1947 (Davis had entered West Point in July 1943 but was turned back a year in 1944 for a deficiency in mathematics).
Temple coach Ray Morrison marvelled at Blanchard’s remarkable 1945 season: “Doc Blanchard was a colossus who, experts insist, is the fullback of all time. Blanchard turned loose more raw power against Army opponents than has been seen since the days of Bronko Nagurski.
In addition, Blanchard ran with greater speed and finesse than even the great Nagurski.”
Blanchard was a first-round draft pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
In 1947, shortly after their graduation from West Point, Blanchard, Davis (also a three-time all-American and the Heisman winner in 1946) and Army end Barney Poole sought four-month furloughs from military service in order to play in the N.F.L.
Some Congressmen said the players were seeking special privileges, and the War Department turned down the request. West Point announced earlier this month that it would retire the No. 35 worn by Blanchard along with the No. 61 of his former teammate Joe Steffy, a star guard, at ceremonies this fall. It previously retired the No. 41 worn by Davis and the No. 24 of the 1958 Heisman-winning running back Pete Dawkins.
Blanchard became a fighter pilot, and in 1959 was back in the news. While flying back to his base near London, an oil line in his plane ruptured and fire broke out. Blanchard could have parachuted, but the plane might have crashed into a village.
Instead, he stayed with the craft and made a perfect landing, an action that brought an Air Force commendation. In 1984 Blanchard was on hand at the Downtown Athletic Club in Manhattan for the awards ceremony marking the 50th Heisman presentation.
By then, the hoopla surrounding the trophy was huge, and the winner’s name was announced on national television.