Army Legend: Doc Blanchard

Friday, October 9, 2009

Army football great "Doc" Blanchard will have his #35 retired during halftime on Saturday. In his time at West Point Felix Blanchard came to be known as "Doc", "Mr. Inside", even "Superman". In his 3 years Blanchard was selected as first team All-America three times. He spent three years at West Point and each of those years he was a Heisman candidate -winning the trophy in 1945 and finishing second and third in Heisman voting in '44 '46.

Doc Blanchard first enrolled at UNC in 1942 and since freshman were banned from varsity play, he played on their frosh football team. R.A. White a North Carolina Frosh team trainer relayed the story: "As a freshman, once he knocked out two tacklers on the same play. It got so bad some of the boys wouldn't even try to tackle him." Blanchard wanted to enlist in North Carolina's Naval V12 unit, but was turned back for poor sight in one eye and being 5 lbs overweight. Had he been admitted to the program, it's likely we would be talking about North Carolina Legend: Doc Blanchard.

Blanchard's first game for Army coincidentally was played against UNC. In that first game Blanchard played 17 minutes, carried the ball 4 times for a 4.5 yard avg, averaged 58 yards on kickoffs and punted once for 40 yards. In the backfield with Glenn Davis for the first time, his presence contributed to Davis' 125 yards in seventeen minues of play. Army won the game 46-0.

Blanchard was Mr. Inside to Davis's Mr. Outside; at 6'1" 210 he could power through the line for yardage and wear down Army's opposition. "Doc" could also find the edge as he was timed at 10.6 seconds in the 100 yard dash. Blanchard was big, strong, fast and took to the fundamentals of football as you would expect someone who compiled these football accolades:

Army letter winner
First Team All-America selection
Member college football national championship team
Heisman trophy runner-up

Army letter winner
First Team All-America selection
Member College Football national championship team
Heisman Trophy Winner - first junior to win award
AAU Sullivan Medal - given for good sportsmanship in amateur athletics -Blanchard was the first football player to win this award
Maxwell Club Award

Army letter winner
Member college football national championship team
First Team All-America selection
Placed 3rd Heisman voting

1952, 1953
Coached Army's Plebe and JV teams to combined records of 29-6-2

Member College Football Hall of Fame inducted 1959
Member Army Football Hall of Fame inducted 2004 (charter class member)

I can't possibly say enough about "Doc" Blanchard, so I'll highlight #35 in the words of his contemporaries:

"I've seen all the great fullbacks, this boy will be the greatest."
Glenn Thistlewaite, coach - Northwestern, Wisconsin

"Many experts insist that he is the greatest fullback of all time."
Roy Morrison, coach - Temple

"I have just seen Superman in the flesh, he wears #35 and goes by the name Blanchard."
Notre Dame coach, Ed McKeever

"This is the only man who runs his own interference."
Herman Hickman, Army Assistant coach

"He's the best football player I've ever seen."
Notre Dame Scout Jack LaVelle

"He has as much power as Nagurski, and he's faster."
Fritz Crisler coach, Michigan

"Compared to Blanchard, Paul Bunyon was a bum."
Green Bay Packers great Don Hutson
After graduation, Doc Blanchard was drafted third in the NFL draft - but he was denied a furlough to play ball and decided to become a pilot in the Air Force. Blanchard readily took to military service serving from 1947 until 1971 when he retired as an Air Force colonel
Blanchard spent three great years playing football for Army, but his 24 military career showed that "Mr. Inside" remained an Army insider to the end.

An absolutely must-read bio of Felix "Doc" Blanchard can be found over at For What They Gave on Saturday Afternoon.



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