The Multitude Of All-America Backfields In 1939


All throughout its detailed review of the UCLA BRUINS’ memorable 1939 NCAA football campaign, this particular blog has consistently referred to star left halfback KENNY WASHINGTON as a “consensus All-America” selection — this has been so because the senior out of Lincoln High School in Los Angeles was named either First, Second or Third Team All-America that year by no fewer than 11 out of the 15 major accredited organizations carefully studied.

No less than 20 different backfield players (eleven seniors, eight juniors and one sophomore) were chosen either First, Second or Third Team All-America in 1939 by at least one of the following groups — Associated Press, United Press, Central Press Association, International News Service, Newspaper Enterprise Association, Collegiate Writers, Hearst Newspapers, New York Sun newspaper, Walter Camp Football Foundation, The Sporting News, Collier’s Weekly, Liberty magazine, Life magazine, Newsweek magazine and the All-America Board.

Five of these organizations (AP, UP, NEA, CPA, Hearst) announced First, Second & Third All-America teams while five others (INS, Collegiate Writers, New York Sun, Life, Newsweek) nominated First & Second All-America sides; the remaining five entities named but a single squad.

Michigan Wolverines left halfback TOM HARMON was, in fact, the one and only backfield player in the entire nation to be named either a First, Second or Third Team All-America pick for the 1939 NCAA season by all fifteen of the major accredited organizations accounted for here at this blog. Iowa Hawkeyes star NILE KINNICK, the undersized left halfback who won the balloting for the prestigious 1939 Heisman Trophy, was the only other collegiate player in the country to be cited by at least 14 of the 15 organizations analyzed. Just five out of the forementioned twenty total backfield players — Kinnick from Iowa, Harmon from Michigan, Washington from UCLA along with Texas A&M Aggies fullback JOHN KIMBROUGH and Missouri Tigers quarterback PAUL CHRISTMAN — were honored with some type of All-America status by at least ten of the fifteen organizations in question :

43 pts … 15 teams … 14-0-1 …… Tom Harmon, Michigan – jr
41 pts … 14 teams … 13-1-0 ……. Nile Kinnick, Iowa – sr
36 pts … 13 teams … 10-3-0 …… John Kimbrough, Texas A&M – jr
33 pts … 13 teams ….. 7-6-0 …… Paul Christman, Missouri – jr
23 pts … 11 teams ….. 2-8-1 ……. KENNY WASHINGTON, UCLA – sr
23 pts ….. 9 teams ….. 6-2-1 ……. George Cafego, Tennessee – sr
14 pts ….. 7 teams ….. 1-5-1 …….. George McAfee, Duke – sr
12 pts ….. 5 teams ….. 3-1-1 …….. Banks McFadden, Clemson – sr
11 pts ….. 5 teams …… 2-2-1 …….. Grenville Lansdell, USC – sr

8 pts ……. 5 teams ……. 1-1-3 …….. Don Scott, Ohio State – jr
6 pts ……. 4 teams ……. 0-2-2 ……. Dick Cassiano, Pitt – sr
5 pts ……. 2 teams ……. 1-1-0 …….. Walt Matuszczak, Cornell – jr
5 pts ……. 3 teams ……. 0-2-1 …….. Jim Lalanne, North Carolina – jr
4 pts ……. 4 teams ……. 0-0-4 ……. Dom Principe, Fordham – sr
3 pts …….. 2 teams ……. 0-1-1 …….. George Stirnweiss, North Carolina – sr
2 pts …….. 1 team ……… 0-1-0 ……. Bob Hoffman, USC – sr
2 pts …….. 1 team ……… 0-1-0 ……. Beryl Clark, Oklahoma – sr
2 pts …….. 1 team ……… 0-1-0 ……. Milt Piepul, Notre Dame – jr
2 pts …….. 1 team ……… 0-1-0 ……. Ronny Cahill, Holy Cross – sr
1 pts …….. 1 team ……… 0-0-1 ……. Jack Crain, Texas – so

(Scoring system = three points for first team selection, two points for second team nomination, one point for third team status)

1st team —- Harmon, Kimbrough, Kinnick, McFadden
2nd team —- Cafego, Christman, McAfee, Washington
3rd team —- Crain, Lansdell, Principe, Scott

1st team — Cafego, Harmon, Kimbrough, Kinnick
2nd team — Christman, McAfee, Piepul, Washington
3rd team — Cassiano, McFadden, Principe, Scott

1st team — Christman, Kimbrough, Kinnick, McFadden
2nd team — Cafego, McAfee, Scott, Washington
3rd team — Cassiano, Harmon, Principe, Stirnweiss

1st team — Harmon, Kimbrough, Kinnick, Lansdell
2nd team — Cafego, Christman, McAfee, Stirnweiss
3rd team — McFadden, Principe, Scott, Washington

1st team — Christman, Harmon, Kinnick, Lansdell
2nd team — Cahill, Kimbrough, Matuszczak, Washington
3rd team — Cafego, Lalanne, McAfee, McFadden

1st team — Cafego, Harmon, Kimbrough, Kinnick
2nd team — Christman, Clark, Lalanne, Washington

1st team — Cafego, Harmon, Kimbrough, Kinnick
2nd team — Christman, Lansdell, McFadden, Washington

1st team — Cafego, Harmon, Kimbrough, Washington
2nd team — Cassiano, Lalanne, Kinnick, McAfee

1st team — Harmon, Kinnick, Matuszczak, McAfee
2nd team — Christman, Hoffman, Kimbrough, Washington

1st team — Cafego, Christman, Harmon, Kinnick
2nd team — Cassiano, Kimbrough, Lalanne, Washington

1st team — Christman, Harmon, Kimbrough, Kinnick

1st team — Harmon, Kimbrough, Scott, Washington

1st team — Cafego, Christman, Harmon, Kinnick

1st team — Christman, Harmon, Kinnick, McFadden

1st team — Christman, Harmon, Kimbrough, Kinnick

* Asterisk indicates one of nine “selectors” as recognized by the National Collegiate Athletic Assocation in 1939 for the purposes of establishing the official annual “Consensus All-America” team.

Leave a comment

Filed under UCLA Football

The Multitude Of All-America Teams & NCAA’s 1939 Official Consensus XI

Texas A&M Aggies fullback JOHN KIMBROUGH (# 39), the two-time consensus All-America whom the Chicago Cardinals made the second overall player to be chosen in the first round of the 1941 National Football League Draft, attempts to outrace Tulane Green Wave right halfback FRED CASSIBRY (# 61), a three-sport letterman who later became a Federal judge in Louisiana, during the 1940 Sugar Bowl Game on New Year’s Day in New Orleans. A second touchdown of the day from Kimbrough, who racked up 152 net yards rushing on 26 carries (5.8 avg), and a successful extra point conversion in the fourth quarter enabled unbeaten and untied Texas A&M (11-0) to edge the previously unbeaten Green Wave (8-1-1) in front of 73,000 spectators at Tulane Stadium. The powerful Aggies, who had already been named national champions for the 1939 NCAA season by the Associated Press after claiming top spot in the AP’s final regular season poll released in mid-December, were already scheduled to meet the UCLA Bruins (who finished ranked # 7 in that same final AP poll) for a non-conference game to be played at the massive Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in early October of 1940.

College football was very popular with the national sporting public in 1939, certainly far more so than the professional game by a wide margin, and this cultural fact was reflected by the multitude of different “All-America” teams that were announced by a wide variety of nationally-recognized organizations.

The first of the 15 major All-America squads named in 1939 and tracked by this blog appeared in the November 20th edition of Life Magazine — the UCLA Bruins still had three more football games left to play on its regular season schedule when Life’s team became known to the general public. Interesting enough, standout UCLA left halfback KENNY WASHINGTON, who would end up as the nation’s leader with 1,370 yards of total offense (rushing & passing), was, indeed, a First Team selection of Life in 1939. Other magazines throughout the country, such as Collier’s Weekly, intentionally ‘leaked’ their All-America teams to the contemporary newspapers well before their own publications actually hit the newsstands.

The chart to follow reflects the earliest release dates as seen by this blog in various contemporary newspapers. For example, the All-America team as chosen by the United Press appeared in the November 29th edition of The Pittsburgh Press. Also noted are the release dates in correlation to the senior left halfback Washington’s very last games for the UCLA Bruins :

Nov 20th ….. Life Magazine (as chosen by NBC announcer Bill Stern)
Nov 24th ….. International News Service *
Nov 29th ….. United Press *
Dec 2nd ……. New York Sun
Dec 3rd …….. Newspaper Enterprise Association *
Dec 3rd …….. Hearst Newspapers
Dec 7th …….. Newsweek Magazine *
Dec 8th …….. Collier’s Weekly (as chosen by Grantland Rice) *
Dec 9th …….. Associated Press *
Dec 9th …….. UCLA BRUINS 0 – USC TROJANS 0
Dec 10th …… Central Press Association
Dec 13th …… Collegiate Writers
Dec 27th …… Liberty Magazine *

unknown …… Walter Camp Football Foundation
unknown …… The Sporting News *
unknown …… All-America Board *

* asterisk indicates an official “selector” for the 1939 season as formally recognized by the National Collegiate Athletic Association

End ……… Esco Sarkkinen, Ohio State …………. 6’0″ 192 lbs ….. senior
End ……… Ken Kavanaugh, Louisiana State ….. 6’3″ 203 lbs …. senior
Tackle …. Nick Drahos, Cornell …………………… 6’3″ 200 lbs …. junior
Tackle …. Harley McCollum, Tulane ……………. 6’4″ 235 lbs …. sophomore
Guard ….. Harry Smith, USC ……………………….. 5’11” 218 lbs …. senior
Guard ….. Ed Molinski, Tennessee ……………….. 5’10” 190 lbs … junior
Center …. John Schiechl, Santa Clara ……………. 6’2″ 220 lbs …. senior
Back ……. Nile Kinnick, Iowa ……………………….. 5’8″ 167 lbs ….. senior
Back ……. Tom Harmon, Michigan ……………….. 6’0″ 195 lbs ….. junior
Back ……. John Kimbrough, Texas A&M ………. 6’2″ 210 lbs ….. junior
Back ……. George Cafego, Tennessee ……………. 6’0″ 174 lbs ….. senior

“Consensus All-America” status as defined by the NCAA in 1939 was determined by the player(s) who received the most First Team nods at his position from the nine major organizations formally recognized as official “selectors” that year.

Senior guard HARRY SMITH of the USC Trojans and junior tackle NICK DRAHOS of the Cornell Big Red were the only two players to be named First Team All-America in 1939 by all nine of the nine official selectors although halfbacks NILE KINNICK of the Iowa Hawkeyes, the undersized senior who won the Heisman Trophy that season, and TOM HARMON of the Michigan Wolverines, the junior who would win the 1940 Heisman Trophy and become the very first player to be chosen at the 1941 National Football League Draft, were both honored as First Team All-America by eight of the NCAA’s nine official selectors that year.

Senior halfback GEORGE CAFEGO of the Tennessee Volunteers and junior quarterback PAUL CHRISTMAN of the Missouri Tigers both received four First Team All-America nominations from the nine official selections. However, it was Cafego, whom the Chicago Cardinals made the first overall player to be chosen at the 1940 NFL Draft, who edged out Christman, who was ultimately a second round pick (# 13 overall) of the Chicago Cardinals at the 1941 NFL Draft, for the fourth and final backfield spot on the NCAA’s Consensus All-America XI in 1939. This blog strongly suspects that seniority had everything to do with that decision because five of the NCAA’ nine official selectors featured Second Team All-America squads, as well — Christman was named Second Team All-America by four of the official selectors in 1939 but Cafego only had two Second Team nominations from the official selectors.

Leave a comment

Filed under UCLA Football

Analyzing The 1940 NFL Draft By Collegiate Conference

Tennessee Volunteers left halfback GEORGE CAFEGO (# 72), whom the Chicago Cardinals made the very first player chosen in the first round of the 1940 National Football League Draft, managed just nine yards rushing on eight carries against the USC Trojans in the 1940 Rose Bowl Game. Duke Blue Devils left halfback GEORGE MCAFEE (# 22), whom the Philadelphia Eagles made the second overall player picked in the first round of the 1940 NFL Draft, lost a net total of five yards rushing on two attempts but caught three passes for 45 yards against the USC Trojans in the 1939 Rose Bowl Game. These statistics are posted in comparison to the 40 yards rushing on eighteen carries that UCLA Bruins left halfback Kenny Washington gained against the USC Trojans in what was the de facto Pacific Coast Conference championship game at the conclusion of the 1939 NCAA regular season; the dynamic Washington also passed for 72 yards and snatched an interception on defense in the dramatic scoreless draw, as well.

The various All-America squads traditionally chosen by contemporary sportswriters and other expert observers are certainly very helpful. But analyzing the annual National Football League Draft(s) can also provide useful information when attempting to evaluate the overall strength of any given team and/or conference with respect to any given football season. Looking back at the UCLA Bruins’ noteworthy 1939 NCAA football campaign, it is interesting to review how the professional football teams, themselves, ultimately rated the talent available in the collective senior class of the entire nation.

3.167 avg … 19 players …… 6 teams …. Big Six Conference
2.875 avg … 23 players …… 8 teams …. Pacific Coast Conference
2.143 avg … 15 players …… 7 teams …. Southwest Conference
2.166 avg … 26 players …. 12 teams …. Southeastern Conference
2.100 avg … 21 players …. 10 teams …. Western Conference (Big Ten)
0.933 avg …. 14 players … 15 teams …. Southern Conference (ACC)

3.444 avg … 31 players ….. 9 teams …. UCLA’s 1939 opponents

As has already been discussed here at this blog in greater detail, All-America left halfback KENNY WASHINGTON and All-Pacific Coast left end WOODY STRODE of the UCLA BRUINS should have both been selected at the 1940 National Football League Draft. That would have give the eight Pacific Coast Conference a total of 25 NFL Draft picks in all. However, this “adjusted” P.C.C. average of 3.125 seniors per team who were picked at the annual NFL Draft still would not have been enough to surpass the 3.167 average of the Bix Six Conference (Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State).

The two collegiate football teams that had the most players chosen at the 1940 NFL Draft were the mighty USC Trojans, who finished with a record of eight wins and two ties after stifling the Tennessee Volunteers 14-0 in the 1940 Rose Bowl, and the perhaps underachieving Oklahoma Sooners, who concluded the 1939 NCAA season with a record of 6-2-1 but lost critical conference games to the Missouri Tigers and Nebraska Cornhuskers; both Oklahoma and USC each had nine players who were drafted by NFL teams. However, the Trojans were the only school in the country to have two players (quarterbacks DOYLE NAVE and GRENVILLE LANSDELL) taken in the first round and were also the only program in the nation to have three players (the third being left end BILL FISK) snapped up in the first three rounds. Furthermore, USC had six players who were selected in the first nine rounds whereas Oklahoma had four players drafted within that same period.

The actual breakdown of Pacific Coast Conference players who were tabbed at the 1940 NFL Draft by individual school went as follows : USC 9, Oregon 6, Oregon State 3, California 2, Stanford 2, Washington 1.

There is absolutely no question that the 1939 UCLA Bruins contested what was easily the toughest schedule in the entire history of the Westwood school’s gridiron program up to that point in time, as evidenced, in part, by the number of their opponents whose professional playing rights were reserved at the 1940 National Football League Draft. In addition to their regular Pacific Coast Conference slate, ambitious UCLA also squared off against the Texas Christian University Horned Frogs from the Southwest Conference as well as the Santa Clara Broncos, the so-called “King of West Coast Independents”. As it was, T.C.U. had three returning seniors from its 1938 national championship squad who were ultimately chosen at the 1940 NFL Draft while Santa Clara, who ended up as the # 14 ranked team in the final poll of the Associated Press for the 1939 NCAA season, had no fewer than five players selected at the 1940 NFL Draft.

USC Trojans left tackle HOWARD STOECKER (# 68), the 215-pounder from Mason City, Iowa, who started 23 games in his collegiate career and was honored as a Second Team All-Pacific Coast selection of the Associated Press in 1939, was an eleventh round (# 98 overall) pick of the Washington Redskins at the 1940 NFL Draft. USC Trojans right end BOB WINSLOW (# 73), the two-year letterwinner from Inglewood who originally transferred from Modesto Junior College and was named Third Team All-Pacific Coast by the Associated Press in 1939, was a seventh round (# 56 overall) choice of the Detroit Lions at the 1940 NFL Draft. Winslow was one of four USC players to be picked by Detroit that term (with the quarterback Nave, the left end Fisk and consensus All-America guard Harry Smith being the others).

Unlike the state of affairs that prevail in contemporary college football, there was no such thing as underclassmen leaving leaving early for the National Football League in 1939. Thus, while on the subject of the annual NFL Draft with respect to the major collegiate conferences, it is extremely relevant to address the number of juniors and sophomores who would, ultimately, also have their playing rights formally reserved by NFL teams, too. The following chart below attempts to address conference depth with respect to collegiate players selected at the 1940, 1941 & 1942 NFL Drafts :

8.286 avg … 58 players ….. 7 teams … Southwest Conference
7.875 avg … 63 players ….. 8 teams … Pacific Coast Conference
7.333 avg … 44 players ….. 6 teams … Big Six Conference
7.200 avg … 72 players … 10 teams … Western Conference (Big Ten)
6.083 avg … 73 players … 12 teams … Southeastern Conference
2.533 avg … 38 players … 15 teams … Southern Conference (ACC)

8.556 avg … 77 players ….. 9 teams … UCLA’s 1939 opponents

Leave a comment

Filed under UCLA Football

UCLA’s Washington, Strode Snubbed By All NFL Teams At 1940 Draft

No fewer than five former UCLA BRUINS players were invited to the very first training camp of the fledgling LOS ANGELES RAMS, the National Football League franchise that had just completed its move from Cleveland, that was held at Compton College in the summer of 1946. Pictured in the front row are guard JACK FINLAY (# 17), guard NATE DEFRANCISCO (# 10) as well as end WOODY STODE (# 34) with halfback KENNY WASHINGTON (# 13) standing next to quarterback BOB WATERRFIELD (# 7) in the back. Neither of the two offensive linemen made the final roster cut for Los Angeles in 1946 but the resilient Finlay went on to play five seasons for the Rams and, along with Waterfield, became an NFL champion in 1951.

From the modern day perspective, it is inconceivable to think that any college player who competed in one of the six so-called “power” conferences and led the entire NCAA in total offense (combined yards rushing & passing) during his senior season would be completely passed over by every single professional team at the subsequent National Football League Draft.

Sadly, such was the case for extremely talented UCLA left halfback KENNY WASHINGTON, who led the entire nation with 1,370 yards of total offense while accounting for 12 touchdowns (five rushing, seven passing) on behalf of a quality Bruins side that went unbeaten in ten games (six wins, four draws) and finished the 1939 NCAA campaign as the # 7 ranked team in the country according to the Associated Press.

Given the physical attributes and on-field accomplishments of UCLA left end WOODY STRODE, who led the Bruins in 1939 with 15 receptions for 218 yards (14.5 avg) and two touchdowns while establishing himself as one of the nation’s better downfield pass-catching threats, it is rather absurd to think that no NFL club wanted the services of such a tall, agile receiver (6’4″ 195 lbs) who was also a dominant player on the defensive side of the ball, as well.

Perhaps the very best argument to be made with respect to why Strode and Washington both deserved to have their names called at the 1940 NFL Draft is reflected by the fact, after being senselessly barred for six seasons by the National Football League only because of the color of their skin, the pair were still gifted enough to play at the very highest level of the professional football game after finally being signed to contracts by the Los Angeles Rams in 1946.

Getting back to the 1940 NFL Draft, there is little doubt that UCLA Bruins star left halfback Kenny Washington should have been a first round selection at the minimum and, indeed, a strong case could be made that the homegrown senior out of Lincoln High School in Los Angeles might very well have been the very first pick overall had circumstances with respect to basic civil rights been an entirely different matter.

HB – George Cafego ……… Tennessee ……………. Chicago Cardinals
HB – George McAfee …….. Duke …………………… Philadelphia Eagles
QB – Kay Eakin …………….. Arkansas ……………… Pittsburgh Steelers
HB – Banks McFadden ….. Clemson ………………. Brooklyn Dodgers
HB – Olie Cordill …………… Rice …………………….. Cleveland Rams
QB – Doyle Nave …………… USC …………………….. Detroit Lions
OC – Clyde Turner ………… Hardin-Simmons ….. Chicago Bears
QB – Ed Boell ………………… New York Univ …….. Washington Redskins
HB – Hal van Every ……….. Minnesota ……………. Green Bay Packers
QB – Grenville Lansdell ….. USC …………………….. New York Giants

This blog has already taken the time to analyzed the three-year collegiate careers of UCLA Bruins left halfback KENNY WASHINGTON and USC Trojans quarterback GRENVILLE LANSDELL in greater detail :

The comparison between Tennessee’s Cafego and UCLA’s Washington is an interesting one, to say the least. As this blog shall analyze in more detail in a future post, Cafego was cited as a First, Second or Third Team All-America in 1939 by nine of the fifteen major accredited organizations studied closely by this blog whereas Washington was named All-America by eleven of those very same entities. It is true that Cafego (6’0″ 174 lbs) was somewhat limited by injury during 1939 NCAA season but the cumulative three-year collegiate statistics of the two players also strongly favor Washington (6’1″ 195 lbs) :

* Cafego gained 1,589 net yards rushing (6.1 avg) and scored 9 total touchdowns for Volunteers teams that went 26-3-1 in three seasons (1937-39) while the far more durable Washington amassed 1,914 net yards rushing (4.2 avg) and tallied 16 total touchdowns (including one on a pass reception and another on defense via a fumble return) on behalf of Bruins teams that went 14-12-6 during his varsity career — as was also the case for Lansdell at USC, Cafego had the distinct advantage of working with much better overall blocking at Tennessee than Washington did at UCLA; as it was, the Volunteers had two different interior linemen who were named First Team All-America by at least four major accredited organizations in 1939 and two other interior linemen who were selected by professional teams at the 1940 NFL Draft.

* Cafego completed 49 of 105 career attempts and totaled 550 yards passing with three touchdowns for Tennessee but the rocket-armed Washington completed 92 of 228 career attempts and totaled 1,268 yards passing with 14 touchdowns for UCLA; the Volunteers left halfback had a better completion percentage (46.67% to 40.35%) but the Bruins left halfback averaged more yards per completion (13.78 to 11.22) and had a much better percentage of completions for touchdowns (15.22% to 6.12%) — these particular facts are all the more relevant considering the widely-publicized premium on backs who could effectively throw the football forward that NFL teams, as a whole, were placing on players at that exact moment in time.

* Cafego intercepted five passes as a safety in his career but was nowhere near the influential force for Tennessee on the defensive side of the football that UCLA enjoyed with the likes of Washington, who was continually cited in contemporary newspaper reports game after game for having been involved in a high number of tackles — furthermore, the explosive Washington still holds the Westwood school record for yards gained per interception return (37.7 avg) after picking off six passes during his three seasons with the Bruins.

Former UCLA Bruins left end WOODY STRODE (# 34), the homegrown product out of Roosevelt High School in Los Angeles who caught five touchdown passes in his collegiate career and was bestowed with First Team All-Pacific Coast in addition to Honorable Mention All-America status by the Associated Press as a senior in 1939, focuses on the football during a training camp session with the Natonal Football League’s Los Angeles Rams in the summer of 1946.

It is certainly very interesting to note that during his three-year varsity career, UCLA Bruins left end WOODY STRODE played against eight of the top twenty ends chosen by the professional teams at the 1940 National Football League Draft. More specifically, as a senior in 1939, the UCLA left end Strode went head-to-head with four future NFL draft picks who featured at right end for their respective college teams — DURWOOD HORNER from the Texas Christian University Horned Frogs, VIC REGINATO from the Oregon Ducks, BILL ANAHU from the Santa Clara Broncos and BOB WINSLOW from the USC Trojans. In each instance, Strode distinguished himself on both sides of the ball as the Bruins beat defending national champion TCU (6-2) and Oregon (16-6) before battling to action-packed if pointless draws with both nationally-ranked Santa Clara and powerful cross-town rival USC.

According to the line-up chart in the post-game report of The Daily Iowan newspaper, Strode also went head-to-head with another would-be NFL draft pick, ERWIN PRESSE from the Iowa Hawkeyes, as a junior in 1938. In that game, Presse provided visiting Iowa with an early second quarter lead by kicking a 22-yard field goal but Strode made a critical play for UCLA late in the first half by recovering a fumble by 1939 Heisman Trophy winner NILE KINNICK in the end zone for the go-ahead touchdown. At the beginning of the second half, Strode broke through the Hawkeyes line and blocked a punt to set the stage for the Bruins’ second touchdown and further pave the way towards UCLA’s 27-3 rout.

There is no question that the UCLA left end Woody Strode was in the same class as several other players whom the NFL teams ultimately judged to be among the most valuable at the end position :

# 12 – (2nd rd) ….. Ralph Wenzel …… Tulane ………………. Pittsburgh
# 21 – (3rd rd) …… Bill Fisk ……………. USC ………………….. Detroit
# 22 – (3rd rd) …… Ken Kavanaugh … Louisiana State …. Chicago Bears
# 26 – (4th rd) …… John Shirk ……….. Oklahoma …………. Chicago Cards
# 27 – (4th rd) …… Pop Ivy ……………. Oklahoma …………. Pittsburgh
# 29 – (4th rd) …… Bill Bailey …………. Duke ………………… Brooklyn
# 36 – (5th rd) …… Esko Sarkkinen …. Ohio State ………… Green Bay
# 40 – (5th rd) …… Carl Tomasello …. Scranton …………… New York
# 41 – (6th rd) …… Vic Reginato ……… Oregon ……………… Chicago Cards
# 55 – (7th rd) …… Bob Nowaskey …… Wash & Lee ………. Cleveland
# 56 – (7th rd) …… Bob Winslow ……… USC …………………. Detroit
# 63 – (8th rd) …… Don Looney ……….. Texas Christian … Philadelphia
# 65 – (8th rd) …… Bill Anahu ………….. Santa Clara ………. Cleveland
# 68 – (8th rd) …… Roland Orf …………. Missouri …………… Washington
# 69 – (8th rd) …… George Seeman …… Nebraska …………. Green Bay
# 96 – (11th rd) ….. Erwin Prasse ………. Iowa ………………… Detroit
# 100 – (11th rd) … John McKibben ….. Tulsa ……………….. New York
# 103 – (12th rd) … Durwood Horner … Texas Christian … Philadelphia
# 107 – (12th rd) … Bill McCubbin …….. Kentucky …………. Chicago Bears
# 111 – (13th rd) …. Al Coppage …………. Oklahoma ………… Chicago Cards

Altogether, 33 ends were among the 200 players to have their professional rights reserved by the ten teams participating at the 1940 NFL Draft. It should be noted that Chicago Bears ninth round (# 77 overall) draft pick HAMPTON POOL from Stanford University is typically listed as and end in most historical records. But the beefy Pool (6’3″ 221 lbs) was an interior lineman stationed at guard for the Indians in college and is listed at that position in contemporary newspapers such as The Milwaukee Journal (December 10th, 1939).

Leave a comment

Filed under UCLA All-Time Records

December 9th – One Very Busy Day On 1939’s Football Calendar


Saturday, December the 9th certainly was one of the most noteworthy dates on the entire American football calendar in 1939, even if there were only three contests involving major college teams on the actual playing schedule, itself.

Off the field, the Associated Press news agency headquartered in New York City named its 15th annual All-America team. Meanwhile, the owners of the ten National Football League clubs met at the Schroeder Hotel in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to conduct the fifth installment of the annual NFL Draft. On the field, two of the three games on the collegiate football schedule would directly determine which two teams would be appearing in the annual Rose Bowl Game on New Year’s Day.

Off the field in Milwaukee, the Chicago Cardinals were busy making University of Tennessee left halfback GEORGE CAFEGO, a second team All-America selection of the Associated Press in 1939, the very first player chosen at what is historically known as the 1940 NFL Draft. On the field in Knoxville, Cafego, who had already been hampered by a knee injury for much of the season, lasted just four plays against the Auburn Tigers before being forced to the sidelines for the remainder of that afternoon. Despite this setback, a brilliant 40-yard touchdown run in the second quarter by Cafego’s replacement, sophomore left halfback JOHNNY BUTLER, provided the # 2 ranked Volunteers with a 7-0 victory and formally punched the formidable Southeastern Conference champion’s ticket to the Rose Bowl contest in Pasadena.

Back at the Schroeder Hotel, the Cleveland Rams were pleased to have picked Rice University right halfback OLIE CORDILL with the fifth overall selection in the first round of the 1940 NFL Draft. Meanwhile, on the gridiron in Dallas, the triple threat Cordill was also hobbled by injury and would have two of his punts smothered by Southwest Conference rival Southern Methodist University in the second half alone. The second of Cordill’s blocked kicks was returned for the fourth quarter touchdown which enabled the Mustangs to complete a 13-6 triumph over the visiting Owls in come-from-behind fashion.

In Milwaukee, the defending champion New York Giants closed out the first round of the 1940 NFL Draft by nabbing University of Southern California quarterback GRENVILLE LANSDELL with the tenth overall selection. This after Lansdell had been cited by the Associated Press as Third Team All-America for the 1939 NCAA season. Out on the left coast in front of a record crowd at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Lansdell, who was known to be nursing an injury to his passing hand, fumbled the ball away only yards from the goal line and had a pass intercepted on the UCLA 10-yard line shortly thereafter in a first quarter that saw USC otherwise dominate.

Towards the end of the first half at the Memorial Coliseum, the Trojans sent on third-string quarterback DOYLE NAVE, the senior out of Manual Arts High School in Los Angeles. Earlier in the day, it was Nave whom the Detroit Lions had made the sixth overall player to be chosen in the first round of the NFL Draft back at the Schroeder Hotel. Neither of USC’s two highly regarded quarterbacks were able to put any points on the scoreboard, however, as the the underdog Bruins battled the nation’s # 3 ranked team to a scoreless draw in this de facto Pacific Coast Conference championship game but, nonetheless, the result did not prevent the Trojans from returning to the Rose Bowl for the second consecutive season.

Only one of the eleven players named First Team All-America by the Associated Press in 1939, left halfback BANKS MCFADDEN of Clemson University, was among the first ten players chosen in the first round of the 1940 National Football League Draft. Part of this can be explained by the fact that only five of the AP’s First Team All-America selections in 1939 were seniors. Furthermore, the top priority of many NFL teams proved to be a backfield player who could pass the football capably.

Leave a comment

Filed under UCLA Football

Just Due For UCLA’s Jim Blewett

UCLA backfield coach JIM BLEWETT (left) and Bruins line coach RAY RICHARDS (right) help prize recruit JACKIE ROBINSON, the multi-sport sensation who rushed for 1,093 yards while scoring 18 total touchdowns in eleven games for Pasadena Junior College during the 1938 campaign, register for classes in the coming semester after transferring to the University of California at Los Angeles in January of 1939. ======================================================

Good ole’ Tom Sawyer has been doing some fascinating research on the MANUAL ARTS HIGH SCHOOL gridiron program in the mid-to-late 1910s over at his very fine blog specializing in UNIVERSITY of CALIFORNIA at LOS ANGELES football in the first half of the 20th Century :

Here at this blog, it has already been documented that no fewer than six Manual Arts High School products were on the two-deep depth charts of both the UCLA Bruins and the USC Trojans for the legendary clash at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in December of 1939 that was witnessed by the largest crowd ever to watch any football game west of the Mississippi River.

UCLA first-year head coach BABE HORRELL was widely credited by the contemporary sportswriters all throughout the 1939 season for having revamped the Bruins’ traditional Single Wing offense by installing the so-called “Man-In-Motion” feature. Unfortunately, history does not seem to record exactly how much influence UCLA backfield coach JIM BLEWETT, the longtime Manual Arts High School varsity head coach who was now in his first season as an assistant at the collegiate level, had over the design and implementation of the Bruins’ new tactics. However, Blewett’s background certainly seems to indicate that the first-year UCLA backfield coach would have had at least a little input, if not considerably more.

“Jim Blewett was the first great athlete produced at Manual Arts High School,” this according to the official transcript of the Los Angeles High School Sports Hall Of Fame Inaugural Induction Ceremony (June 5, 2011) :

As a track & field athlete, Blewett was recognized as the shot put champion of the City of Los Angeles as a sophomore in 1915 and again as a junior in 1916. As a senior in 1917, the future UCLA backfield coach became the shot put champion of the entire State of California. Blewett was also a standout football player for led powerhouse Manual Arts High School, the Vermont Avenue institution that celebrated the city championship title five times (1913, 1914, 1916, 1917 and 1919) in but a single decade alone.

As a senior on the gridiron in 1916, Blewett was not only named All-City fullback in Los Angeles but was also chosen to represent Manual Arts High School on the presitigous All-Southern California XI picked by contemporary sportwriter Jack Darroch from the San Diego Union newspaper.

Manual Arts High School fullback JIM BLEWETT is shown kicking left-footed in the lower right hand corner of this photo highlighting the 1916 All-Southern California XI. To Blewett’s immediate left is a teammate from the 1916 Los Angeles city championship squad, tackle Ken Brockman, with the other four players all hailing from San Diego High School, recognized as the champion of the State of California that season. The San Diego trio appearing in the top row of this photo displayed — from left to right, left halfback Bryan “Pesky” Sprott (far left, top row), right end Harold “Brick” Muller and quarterback Karl Deeds — all later starred on the University of California Golden Bears’ famous 1920 Wonder Team, the national championship title-winning squad that posted a perfect 9-0-0 record while outscoring its opponents by the overwhelming margin of 510-14 …

Blewett went on to play football at the University of California at Berkeley under the legendary Golden Bears head coach ANDY SMITH but was hampered by injuries. After completing his education, Blewett stayed in the northern California area and got his feet wet as a head coach by filling the position at Fresno High School from 1921 until 1925. At this point, Blewett returned to his Manual Arts High School roots and set about the business becoming a California scholastic coaching legend.

The former Manual Arts High School fullback captured his first Los Angeles city championship title as a head coach at his alma mater in 1930. Three more city championship titles for the Manual Arts football team followed in 1934, 1936 and 1937 before Blewett accepted a job offer from new UCLA Bruins head coach Babe Horrell in December of 1938. Shortly thereafter, Blewett was rewarded with a raise and a four-year contract extension after UCLA finished the 1939 NCAA campaign with an unbeaten record of 6-0-4 and the # 7 ranking in the final Associated Press national poll.

Reportedly, continuing strained relations with Horrell led Blewett to resign from his position as backfield coach at UCLA in late December of 1940. Once again, Blewett went back to Manual Arts High School and resumed his duties as head football coach but only got in one season before going off to serve his country during World War II. After the hostilities had concluded, Blewett returned to his alma mater yet one more time in 1947 and would enjoy a highly successful seventeen-year run as head coach that included five more Los Angeles city championship titles in 1952, 1954, 1957, 1961 and 1962.


When Blewett finally retired in 1963, there was no other high school coach in the entire State of California who could match the impressive record (225 wins, 70 losses, 16 ties) that he had compiled over the course of his distinguished 36-year career (Fresno 1921-25, Manual Arts 1926-38, 1941, 1947-63).

During his long, if often interrupted, tenure as head coach at Manual Arts High School in Los Angeles, Blewett helped to develop countless numbers of collegiate players including a pair of would-be USC Trojans who also later became very high picks in the annual National Football League Draft. Passing specialist DOYLE NAVE, who gained 52 net yards rushing (4.0 avg) on the ground versus the UCLA Bruins team assisted by Blewett in 1939, was the sixth overall player chosen at the 1940 NFL Draft when selected in the first round by the Detroit Lions. Almost two decades later, exciting All-America halfback and kick returner JON ARNETT was the second overall player taken at the 1957 NFL Draft when tabbed in the first round by the hometown Los Angeles Rams.


Filed under UCLA Football

Establishing UCLA’s Career Rushing Record

One of the most noteworthy facts about the playing career of UCLA Bruins standout KENNY WASHINGTON (# 13) is that it took 33 years for someone to finally break the consensus All-America left halfback’s school record for career rushing yardage — this particular bullet point becomes all the more impressive when one considers the rapid development of offensive strategies & tactics as well as the elimination of the “single platoon” system of limited substitution that occurred during this very same time span …… the career rushing totals of the UCLA Bruins’ all-time leading ground-gainer at present, JOHNATHAN FRANKLIN (# 23), benefited from the contemporary offensive formations that feature but a single running back far more so than from the additional number of games played as a result of lengthened season schedules.

1,539 yrd …. 5.1 avg … 1933-35 …….. Chuck CHESHIRE
1,914 yrd …. 4.2 avg … 1937-39 ……. Kenny WASHINGTON
2,495 yrd …. 6.7 avg … 1971-73 ……. Kermit JOHNSON
3,181 yrd ….. 6.0 avg … 1973-76 …… Wendell TYLER
3,195 yrd ….. 5.3 avg … 1977-80 …… Freeman MCNEIL
3,731 yrd ….. 5.3 avg … 1984-87 …… Gaston GREEN
4,403 yrd …. 5.6 avg … 2009-12 …… Johnathan FRANKLIN

UCLA Bruins halfback WENDELL TYLER (# 22), who was taken by the hometown Los Angeles Rams in the third round of the 1977 National Football League Draft, broke Kenny Washington’s long held school record for rushing attempts in a single season as a junior in 1975 and, in doing so, also became the very first player in the Westwood school’s history ever to exceed 1,000 yards rushing in a single season … UCLA Bruins tailback FREEMAN MCNEIL (# 24) was the third overall player chosen when snapped up by the New York Jets in the first round of the 1981 NFL Draft, this after the Los Angeles native had done enough to ensure that his predecessor’s reign as the Westwood school’s rushing king was a rather short-lived one.

4,403 yrd … 5.6 avg ……. Johnathan FRANKLIN (2009-12)
3,731 yrd …. 5.3 avg ……. Gaston GREEN (1984-87)
3,195 yrd …. 5.3 avg ……. Freeman MCNEIL (1977-80)
3,194 yrd …. 4.4 avg …… DeShaun FOSTER (1998-01)
3,182 yrd ….. 5.2 avg …… Karim ABDUL-JABBAR (1992-95)
3,181 yrd ….. 6.0 avg …… Wendell TYLER (1973-76)
3,140 yrd …. 4.9 avg …… Skip HICKS (1993-94, 96-97)
2,954 yrd …. 5.5 avg …… Theotis BROWN (1975-78)
2,773 yrd …. 4.7 avg …… Chris MARKEY (2004-07)
2,583 yrd …. 4.5 avg …… Kevin NELSON (1980-83)
2,503 yrd …. 5.2 avg …… Maruice JONES-DREW (2003-05)
2,495 yrd …. 6.7 avg …… Kermit JOHNSON (1971-73)
2,215 yrd …. 5.3 avg …… Kevin WILLIAMS (1989-92)
2,148 yrd …. 5.6 avg …… Paul PERKINS (2013-14)
2,099 yrd …. 4.6 avg …… Brian BROWN (1987-90)
2,074 yrd …. 5.0 avg ….. James OWENS (1975-78)
1,984 yrd …. 4.9 avg …… Eric BALL (1985-88)
1,915 yrd …. 4.2 avg …… Kenny WASHINGTON (1937-39)
1,899 yrd …. 4.9 avg …… Greg JONES (1967-69)
1,814 yrd …. 4.4 avg …… Manuel WHITE (2001-04)
1,813 yrd …. 4.9 avg …… John SCIARRA (1972-75)
1,780 yrd …. 5.2 avg …… Derrick COLEMAN (2008-11)
1,747 yrd …. 3.6 avg …… Brett HUNDLEY (2012-14)
1,741 yrd …. 4.4 avg …… Kahlil BELL (2005-08)
1,716 yrd ….. 6.0 avg …… Mel FARR (1964-66)
1,644 yrd …. 4.1 avg ……. Danny ANDREWS (1981-84)
1,539 yrd ….. 5.3 avg …… Chuck CHESHIRE (1933-35)
1,495 yrd ….. 4.3 avg …… Tyler EBELL (2002-03)
1,492 yrd ….. 5.3 avg …… James MCALISTER (1972-73)
1,458 yrd ….. 4.0 avg …… Paul CAMERON (1951-53)

UCLA Bruins halfback THEOTIS BROWN (# 27), who became a second round selection of the St. Louis Cardinals at the 1979 National Football League Draft, did not carry the football from scrimmage even one time during his freshman campaign in 1975 (the very same season that saw underdog UCLA dump the unbeaten and untied Ohio State Buckeyes in the annual Rose Bowl Game on New Year’s Day) but then went on to average an impressive 84.40 yards rushing per game over the course of his last three years with Westwood’s gridiron warriors … It took 34 years for someone to come along and finally unseat UCLA Bruins tailback GASTON GREEN (# 44) as the Westwood school’s career rushing king; however, Green, who was the very first running back chosen at the 1988 NFL Draft when selected in the first round by the hometown Los Angeles Rams, still holds the UCLA school record having rushed for 100 or more yards in a single game a total of twenty times during his distinguished collegiate career.

83.07 yrds per game ….. 53 games …… Johnathan FRANKLIN
82.62 yrds per game ….. 26 games …… Paul PERKINS
77.73 yrds per game ….. 48 games …… Gaston GREEN
71.00 yrds per game ….. 45 games …… Freeman MCNEIL
69.43 yrds per game ….. 46 games …… Deshaun FOSTER
69.22 yrds per game ….. 32 games …… Kermit JOHNSON
69.17 yrds per game ….. 46 games …… Karim ABDUL-JABBAR
69.15 yrds per game ….. 46 games …… Wendell TYLER
68.26 yrds per game ….. 46 games …… Skip HICKS
67.81 yrds per game ….. 22 games …… James MCALISTER
65.87 yrds per game ….. 38 games …… Maurice JONES-DREW
63.30 yrds per game ….. 30 games …… Greg JONES
62.85 yrds per game ….. 47 games …… Theotis BROWN
61.77 yrds per game …… 31 games …… Kenny WASHINGTON
59.80 yrds per game ….. 25 games …… Tyler EBELL

Leave a comment

Filed under UCLA All-Time Records, UCLA Football