Commentary

3 juggernauts in Army ground attack

Academy yields all trophy winners -- Blanchard, Davis, Dawkins -- in span of 13 years

Updated: September 30, 2011, 8:24 PM ET
By Kieran Darcy | ESPNNewYork.com

The U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., has produced many distinguished graduates, including two presidents, several famous generals and countless war heroes.

Perhaps lost among its better-known alums are Army's three Heisman Trophy winners.

All played on the gridiron more than a half-century ago, when Army was a national football power. The Heisman Watch series offers an opportunity to look back and celebrate their accomplishments:

Felix "Doc" Blanchard

In 1945, Felix Blanchard became the first junior to win the Heisman. A 6-foot, 205-pound fullback, he was given the nickname "Mr. Inside."

[+] EnlargeDoc Blanchard
AP Photo/John LindsayFelix "Doc" Blanchard would go on to pilot 84 missions in Vietnam.
Doc Blanchard was named an All-American in each of his three seasons at Army, where he rushed for a total of 1,908 yards and 38 touchdowns. He also played linebacker and served as the squad's kicker and punter. The team went 27-0-1 in those three years, with the lone blemish a scoreless draw against Notre Dame in 1946 at Yankee Stadium in what many called the "Game of the Century."

In his Heisman season, Blanchard averaged 7.1 yards per carry, rushing for 718 yards and 19 touchdowns as undefeated Army chalked up nine victories.

The Pittsburgh Steelers took Blanchard with the third overall pick in the 1946 NFL draft, but he never played a down in the pros. After being turned down for a furlough from his military service so he could suit up in the NFL, he became a fighter pilot in the Air Force.

In 1959, while flying back to his base near London, Blanchard's plane suffered a mechanical malfunction. He could have parachuted out, but the plane might have crashed into a village. Blanchard remained in the cockpit and eventually landed safely. The maneuver earned him an Air Force commendation. He went on to fly 84 missions during the Vietnam War and retired as a colonel in 1971.

Blanchard died of pneumonia on April 19, 2009, at the age of 84.

Glenn Davis

Glenn Davis followed in teammate Blanchard's footsteps a year later and brought the Heisman back to Army in 1946. A speedy, 5-foot-9, 170-pound halfback who served as a perfect complement to Blanchard, Davis was dubbed "Mr. Outside."

[+] EnlargeGlenn Davis
U.S. Military Academy/Getty ImagesGlenn Davis scored 59 touchdowns for Army, served in Korea and played for the Los Angeles Rams.
Davis scored a whopping 59 touchdowns at Army. Together he and Blanchard were referred to as the "Touchdown Twins." They held the record for most touchdowns (97) by a pair of teammates until it was broken by USC running backs Reggie Bush and LenDale White (99) in 2005.

Only one player has won two Heisman Trophies -- Ohio State running back Archie Griffin, in 1974 and 1975. But Davis is remarkable in having been a Heisman runner-up, twice, before finally capturing the bronze in 1946. He averaged an incredible 11.5 yards per carry in 1945 and 8.3 yards per carry for his career -- NCAA records that still stand.

Upon graduating, Davis went on to serve in the Korean War. Afterward he spent two years with the Los Angeles Rams before a knee injury cut his NFL career short in 1952. He went on to work in public relations for the Los Angeles Times for many years.

Davis died of prostate cancer on March 9, 2005, at age 80.

Pete Dawkins

A halfback who had suffered from polio as a child, Pete Dawkins won the Heisman in 1958 during one of West Point's most astounding academic and athletic careers.

[+] EnlargePete Dawkins
AP PhotoPete Dawkins overcame childhood polio to establish one of the most remarkable athletic and academic careers West Point has ever witnessed.
In his Heisman season, the 6-foot-1, 210-pound Dawkins rushed for 428 yards and scored 12 touchdowns. During his three seasons at Army, he rushed for 1,123 yards, caught 27 passes for 716 yards, threw seven touchdown passes and scored 158 points.

Academically, Dawkins also was a superstar, winning a Rhodes Scholarship and going on to study philosophy, politics and economics at Oxford. Before that, he was Brigade Commander, president of his class, captain of the football team and a Star Man (in the top 5 percent of his class academically) -- the only cadet in West Point history to hold all four honors at once.

Following his time at Oxford, Dawkins served 24 years in the Army, winning two Bronze Stars for Valor in Vietnam and rising to the rank of Brigadier General. After his retirement from the armed forces in 1983, he entered the business world. He ran for a U.S. Senate seat in New Jersey as a Republican in 1988, but lost to incumbent Democrat Frank Lautenberg.

Dawkins, 73, resides in Rumson, N.J., and is vice chairman of Citigroup Private Bank.

Kieran Darcy is an ESPNNewYork.com staff writer. He joined ESPN in August 2000 after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, where he played four years of JV basketball.
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