Doak Walker Wins Heisman Trophy
Walker, often considered the greatest player to come out of the Southwest Conference, was a junior when he won the Heisman Trophy.
For three years he was an All-American at Southern Methodist, where in 35 games he scored 303 points on 40 touchdowns, 60 extra points after touchdown and one field goal. Doak gained over 3,500 yards running and passing, and established several other Southwest Conference records that still stand. Walker led the Mustangs to the Cotton Bowl in both 1948 and '49. Walker went to the Detroit Lions where he played for six seasons, leading the league in rushing in his best year. After retiring from football Walker joined the George A. Fuller Co., general contractors, and was based in Denver and Cheyenne. He later formed his own firm, Walker Chemical Co., which he subsequently sold. He served as Vice president of Fischbach & Moore, national electrical contractors. Doak passed away in September 1998. He was married to former Olympic skier Skeeter Werner.
Doak was elected to the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame in 1959.
Walker became only the second junior ever to win the Heisman, following former Army star Doc Blanchard. The SMU star won in the Midwest, Southwest and Far West, with Justice the winner in the South and Bednarik taking the East. Van Brocklin went on to become a star quarterback and coach in the National Football League and Jensen was a standout outfielder for the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox.
Ewell Doak Walker, Jr. (January 1, 1927 – September 27, 1998) was an American football player who is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was a teammate of Bobby Layne in high school and the NFL.
Walker attended Southern Methodist University (SMU), where he played running back, defensive back, and place kicker. He also threw and caught passes, punted, and returned kicks. He was an All-American and in 1948 won the Heisman Trophy as the best college football player in the nation, as a junior. Walker's impact on SMU and football in the Dallas area led to the Cotton Bowl being referred to as "The House That Doak Built." Walker was also a member of Phi Delta Theta Fraternity and lettered on the SMU basketball and baseball teams. In 2007, he was ranked #4 on ESPN's list of the top 25 players In college football history.
Doak Walker epitomized leadership, sportsmanship, and academic and athletic achievement during his storied career at SMU in the late 1940's. Gracing the covers of numerous national magazines, "the Doaker" was a national phenomenon. The versatile Walker, who also punted, returned punts and kickoffs, and kicked extra points, earned All-America honors in 1947, 1948 and 1949. After starting as a freshman in 1945, he missed the 1946 season due to his service in the Army; however, by his junior season, his exploits on the field had become legendary, and in 1948, Walker won the Heisman Trophy.
Because of extraordinary fan interest in Walker, who led the Mustangs to Southwest Conference championships and Cotton Bowl appearances during the 1947 and 1948 seasons, SMU moved its home football games from campus to an expanded Cotton Bowl. The Cotton Bowl recognized Walker's achievements with a plaque at its main entrance that reads: "The Cotton Bowl, the House that Doak Built."
Walker received his degree on schedule before reporting to the Detroit Lions for his rookie season in 1950. As a rookie, he led the NFL in scoring with 128 points. During his six years with the Lions, he led the team to NFL Championships in 1952 and 1953 and was named All-Pro four times. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1959 and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1986. Prior to the 2000 season, Walker's jersey number 37 was the sole number in the history of SMU athletics to be retired.
On September 27, 1998, 50 years to the day after appearing on the cover of Life Magazine, Walker passed away due to complications from a skiing accident.