BULVERDE, TEXAS (AP) - Felix “Doc” Blanchard, the 1945 Heisman Trophy winner and Army’s Mr. Inside in one of college football’s most famous backfields, has died. He was 84.
Blanchard’s daughter, Mary Blanchard, told The Associated Press late Sunday night in a phone interview that her father died of pneumonia at home in Bulverde, a small town in central Texas, earlier in the day.
Mary Blanchard said her father had been living with her and husband for about the past 20 years and he had been in good health until recently coming down with pneumonia.
“He’s been strong all his life,” she said.
The bruising fullback Blanchard, listed at 6 feet, 208 pounds, and Glenn Davis, aka Mr. Outside, helped Army win consecutive national titles in 1944-45.
Notre Dame coach Ed McKeever was quoted as saying about Blanchard in 1944: “I’ve just seen Superman in the flesh. He wears No. 35 and goes by the name of Blanchard.”
The year after Blanchard became the first junior to win the Heisman Trophy, Davis won it and Army went undefeated again.
With Blanchard and Davis, Army went 27-0-1 from 1944-46.
In 1944, after a famous season-ending win over Navy, Gen. Douglas MacArthur even took time out from his war duties to send this wire: “The greatest of all Army teams … We have stopped the war to celebrate your magnificent success. MacArthur.”
Blanchard, who also played linebacker and handled place-kicking and punting for Army, capped his Heisman Trophy season by scoring three touchdowns in a 32-13 victory against Navy, and he became the first football player to win the Sullivan Award, given to the nation’s top amateur athlete.
In November 1945, Davis and Blanchard shared the cover of Time magazine.
Davis died in 2005 at the age of 80.
Blanchard scored 38 touchdowns and gained 1,908 yards in his three seasons playing at West Point. He was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers with the third overall pick, but he never played professional football.
He ended up serving a long career as a fighter pilot in the Air Force, flying in the Korean and Vietnam wars retiring with the rank of Colonel.
He was inducted into the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame in 1959.
Blanchard, the son of a doctor, was born in Bishopville, S.C.
He led St. Stanislaus School in Bay Saint Louis, Miss., to an undefeated season during his senior year in 1941 and was recruited by Army and Notre Dame, among others.
“They had contacted me about going to West Point when I was in high school,” Blanchard told the AP in 1995. “At that point in time, I really wasn’t interested. Academically, I never was too hot, so I never had any idea I would pass the entrance examination and go to West Point.”
After completing his freshman year at the University of North Carolina, he tried to enlist in the Navy’s V-12 program, which allowed students to complete their education in return for a service commitment. He was rejected because he was considered overweight and had a vision problem.
Blanchard decided to enlist in the Army, but his father secured an appointment to West Point, and he enrolled in July 1944.
Hall of Fame Army coach Earl “Red” Blaik united Blanchard and Davis in the backfield, and they were dynamic from the start, leading Army to a 9-0 record and its first national championship.
Funeral arrangements for Blanchard had not yet been made.