Category Archives: UCLA Football

Validating The All-America Candidacy Of Kenny Washington Via The 1940 College All-Star Game – Training Camp

If comprehensive analysis of relevant individual statistics from the 1939 NCAA season, itself, is not enough to make a complete mockery of KENNY WASHINGTON’s failure to secure Consensus First Team All-America status as a senior then, surely, a review of the performance from the UCLA star left halfback against the defending National Football League champion Green Bay Packers at the memorable 1940 College All-Star Game certainly would validate Washington’s worthiness of such honors.

————————————————————————————————————————-

Passed over for First Team All-America status as a senior in 1939 by thirteen of the fifteen major accredited organizations studied by this blog and ignored entirely by all ten professional clubs at the 1940 National Football League Draft, it was at training camp for the 1940 College All-Star Game in Chicago where UCLA Bruins star left halfback KENNY WASHINGTON would have his invaluable chance to show countless All-America voters (not to mention the prejudiced NFL owners) how foolish their respective choices had been.

After being elected in the formentioned nationwide vote of fans, University of Iowa head coach Dr. Eddie Anderson gathered his enormous squad at Northwestern University on August 11th and immediately set about the difficult task of dividing this group of elite collegians into separate units for the first, second, third teams, etc. Anderson calculated that he might need to use as many as four different teams against the defending NFL champion Green Bay Packers in order to keep his troops fresh throughout the 1940 College All-Star Game. Still, with more than thirty backfield players on the roster, it was assured that at least a baker’s dozen “big name” backfield players would not be seeing any action at all.

From the outset, however, it was obvious that Bruins standout would not be one of those unfortunate players who would be watching the 1940 College All-Star Game from the bench. Indeed, the headline of an article in The Chicago Tribune on August 12th read, “Anderson Sends All-Stars Through Opening Practice – Mates Praise Washington”. Two days later, the same Windy City newspaper that was the sponsor of the annual College All-Star Game at Soldier Field highlighted the 195-pounder’s passing ability by reporting that “sideline observers express amazement at the passing exhibitions turned in by Kenny Washington, the celebrated UCLA halfback”.

Anderson, who had seen Washington play in person during the 1938 NCAA season when his Iowa Hawkeyes lost 27-3 to the UCLA Bruins in Los Angeles, made no secret of the fact that he would be use the four most qualified players in the backfield even if that meant that certain players would not be stationed at their ‘normal’ position. Of course, the primary ball-handler in Anderson’s traditional Single Wing offense would be the left halfback but the Iowa mentor was prepared to sacrifice power in favor of speed at the fullback position. The role of the quarterback, as was customary during the pre-World War II era, remained that of a lead blocker and pass receiver.

=======================================================
cas-40-anderson-backfield
=======================================================
College All-Stars head coach Dr. Eddie Anderson from the University of Iowa talks things over with the starting backfield as determined by a nationwide vote involving millions of fans — Purdue right halfback Lou Brock (# 40), Notre Dame fullback Joe Thesing (# 33), Iowa left halfback Nile Kinnick (# 1) and USC quarterback Ambrose Schindler (# 24).
=======================================================

On August 21st, eight days prior to the seventh annual College All-Star Game, The Chicago Tribune reported that Anderson had tentatively named a first and second team for the upcoming clash with the Packers. Making good on his word, Anderson’s first string line-up included no fewer than three left halfbacks : Nile Kinnick of Iowa, Hal van Every of Minnesota and UCLA’s Washington. The nation’s total offense leader in 1939 (Washington) retained his accustomed place at the all-important left halfback position but the 1939 Heisman Trophy winner & Consensus First Team All-America (Kinnick) was shifted to right halfback and the Green Bay Packers’ first round selection at the 1940 NFL Draft who had led the entire NCAA in 1939 with nine pass interceptions (van Every) was moved to fullback; beefy Frank Emmons of Oregon, the 215-pound converted fullback who had been the fifth round pick (# 32 overall) of the Philadelphia Eagles at the 1940 NFL Draft, was penciled in at the quarterback position.

In addition to this quartet, three backfield players were named as reserves for the first team unit. USC Trojans second-string quarterback Ambrose Schindler, the two-time Second Team All-Pacific Coast selection who had been the Most Valuable Player of the 1940 Rose Bowl Game, was being deployed in training camp at both right halfback as well as at fullback while Clemson Tigers star Banks McFadden, the lanky right halfback who had been selected First Team All-America by three major accredited organizations including the Associated Press and taken fifth overall in the first round of the 1940 NFL Draft by the Brooklyn Dodgers, was working exclusively at fullback. Left halfback Bob Kellogg of Tulane, the First Team All-Southeastern Conference choice who had led the Green Wave to a regular season record of 8-0-1 and a Sugar Bowl berth as a senior in 1939, was asked by the College All-Stars coaching staff to learn the assignments of every backfield position save the quarterback slot.

Anderson’s so-called second team line-up consisted of five more backfield players featuring Texas Mines quarterback Ken Heineman, the Second Team Little All-America selection of the Associated Press in 1939 who had been tabbed in the sixth round (# 45 overall) of the 1940 NFL Draft by the Cleveland Rams. The undersized Heineman (5’9″ 168 lbs) impressed during training camp with his passing skills at left halfback while Notre Dame’s speedy left halfback Benny Sheridan was seen as a legitimate threat to run reverses over at right halfback. Also listed with the second unit were the pair of ninth round NFL draft picks : fullback Dom Principe of Fordham, the New York Giants prospect who had been named Third Team All-America by no fewer than four major accredited organizations in 1939, and rugged USC Trojans right halfback Bob Hoffman, the soon-to-be Washington Redskins rookie who had been named Second Team All-America by the New York Sun newspaper and was known to be a fearsome tackler at linebacker.

On August 25th, just four days ahead of the 1940 College All-Star Game to be played under the lights at Soldier Field, The Chicago Tribune dutifully reported Anderson’s depth chart as had been observed at practice less than twenty-four hours earlier :

Left Halfback : Washington, Kinnick, Olie Cordill (Rice), Heineman
Right Halfback : Kellogg, van Every, Brock, Floyd Dean (Iowa)
Quarterback : Emmons, Hoffman
Fullback : McFadden, Schindler, Thesing

Advertisements

Comments Off on Validating The All-America Candidacy Of Kenny Washington Via The 1940 College All-Star Game – Training Camp

Filed under UCLA - College All-Star Game, UCLA Football

Validating The All-America Candidacy Of Kenny Washington Via The 1940 College All-Star Game – Final Roster Selection

cas-40-rosters
=======================================================

Almost an entire week before the College All-Stars had actually even held their first practice session, no less of an authority than legendary Green Bay Packers head coach Earl “Curley” Lambeau, rather prophetically, wrote in The Chicago Tribune newspaper on August 5, 1940 :

“(Kenny) Washington and (Banks) McFadden will likely be the collegians’ stars, carrying on where Bill Osmanski of Holy Cross left off (as Most Valuable Player) in 1939. These two men are the pick of the finest set of backs ever assembled for the (College) All-Star Game. Washington, UCLA’s rugged halfback, is the epitome of football perfection. He was the toast of the Pacific coast, where great football players abound. And we’re not overlooking Iowa’s Nile Kinnick, either.”

The lavish praise heaped upon Washington by the future Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee who, at this point in his most distinguished career, had already won five National Football League titles with the Packers was particularly significant, especially considering the source. The 1940 edition of the College All-Stars had no less than five first round NFL draft picks plus the 1939 Heisman Trophy winner (Kinnick) in the backfield. Furthermore, one of those first round draft picks (Hal van Every from Minnesota) also just so happened to be the property of Lambeau’s defending champion Green Bay Packers .

1940 COLLEGE ALL-STARS : Halfbacks
—————————————————————
# 1 ….. Nile Kinnick ……………. Iowa …………………….. 2nd rd – Brooklyn
# 11 … Dom Carney ……………. Rockhurst
# 12 … Benny Sheridan ………. Notre Dame
# 14 … Floyd Dean ……………… Iowa
# 19 … Kenny Washington …… UCLA
# 23 … Lou Zontini ……………… Notre Dame
# 40 … Lou Brock ……………….. Purdue ………………… 3rd rd – Green Bay
# 43 … Dick Cassiano ………….. Pitt ………………………. 6th rd – Green Bay
# 45 … Bob Hoffman …………… USC ……………………… 9th rd – Washington
# 57 … Jack Padley ……………… Dayton ……………….. 16th rd – Detroit
# 60 … Bob Kellogg ……………… Tulane
# 61 … Jack Nix …………………… Mississippi St
# 66 … Banks McFadden ………. Clemson ………………. 1st rd – Brooklyn
# 67 … Olie Cordill ……………….. Rice …………………….. 1st rd – Cleveland
# 72 … George Cafego …………… Tennessee …………… 1st rd – Chi Cardinals
# 83 … Hal van Every ……………. Minnesota …………… 1st rd – Green Bay
# 93 … Bill Hutchison ……………. Dartmouth

1940 COLLEGE ALL-STARS : Quarterback
———————————————————————
# 7 ….. Steve Sitko ………………… Notre Dame ………. 22nd rd – Washington
# 8 ….. Ken Heineman ……………. Texas Mines ……….. 6th rd – Cleveland
# 24 … Ambrose Schindler …….. USC ………………….. 13th rd – Green Bay
# 29 … Ben Kish …………………….. Pitt …………………….. 8th rd – Chi Cardinals
# 34 … Tony Sacco ………………… St. Ambrose
# 78 … Grenville Lansdell ……….. USC …………………… 1st rd – New York
# 87 … Ted Hennis …………………. Purdue …………….. 13th rd – Philadelphia

1940 COLLEGE ALL-STARS : Fullback
————————————————————–
# 21 … Dom Principe ………………. Fordham …………… 9th rd – New York
# 31 … Jim Molnar ………………….. Bradley ………….. 17th rd – Philadelphia
# 33 … Joe Thesing …………………. Notre Dame
# 37 … George McGurn ……………. Northwestern
# 39 … Frank Emmons …………….. Oregon …………….. 5th rd – Philadelphia
# 49 … John McDermott ………….. Detroit
# 51 …. Marty Christiansen ………. Minnesota ……….. 5th rd – Chi Cardinals

Comments Off on Validating The All-America Candidacy Of Kenny Washington Via The 1940 College All-Star Game – Final Roster Selection

Filed under UCLA - College All-Star Game, UCLA Football

Validating The All-America Candidacy Of Kenny Washington Via The 1940 College All-Star Game – The Vote For the Starting XI

If comprehensive analysis of relevant individual statistics from the 1939 NCAA football season, itself, is somehow not enough to make a complete mockery of KENNY WASHINGTON’s failure to secure Consensus First Team All-America status as a senior then, surely, a thorough review of the performance from the UCLA Bruins star left halfback against the defending National Football League champion Green Bay Packers at the memorable 1940 College All-Star Game in Chicago certainly would validate Washington’s worthiness of such honors.

————————————————————————————————————————

As had been the tradition since the inception of the College All-Star Game in 1934, the starting XI for the collegiate team to be battling the Packers in late August of 1940 was based on balloting conducted by The Chicago Tribune and 391 other newspapers and radio stations across the country all working in conjunction. More than six and a half million people participated in the College All-Star election held in July that year and, especially considering the fact that three of the four official Consensus First Team All-America backfield players in 1939 were underclassmen, it remains interesting to analyze the results of the voting decades later. Not the least bit surprisingly, “triple-threat” left halfback Nile Kinnick of the Iowa Hawkeyes, the current Heisman Trophy winner and Consensus First Team All-America choice in 1939, was an overwhelming selection of the fans to occupy one of the starting slots in the All-Stars backfield having collected almost 1.2 million votes.

The other three players nominated to be in the All-Stars’ starting backfield alongside Kinnick, with perhaps one exception, must have raised more than a few eyebrows throughout the nation. At least USC quarterback Ambrose Schindler had been lauded as the Most Valuable Player of the 1940 Rose Bowl Game after rushing for one touchdown and throwing for another six points during the Trojans’ 14-0 impressive shutout of the previously unbeaten and untied Tennessee Volunteers on New Year’s Day. But Purdue Boilermakers right halfback Lou Brock, as was the case with Schindler, had not been recognized as either First, Second or Third Team All-America in 1939 by any of the fifteen major accredited organizations carefully studied by this blog previously (see, “The Multitude Of All-America Backfields In 1939”).

The election of fullback Joe Thesing from the University of Notre Dame, who received the second-highest number of votes (981,276) out of all the All-Stars’ players in 1940, was a most curious decision, indeed. Although it was the senior Thesing who had nominally started seven of Notre Dame’s nine NCAA games in 1939, it was junior fullback Milt Piepul who had been rewarded with Second Team All-America status by the Associated Press after leading the Fighting Irish with both 414 yards rushing (5.0 avg) and six touchdowns scored that season. Surely, it was Notre Dame’s national popularity at this particular point in time that had as much to do with the voting results as did Thesing’s talent.

=======================================================
cas-40-formation
=======================================================
The 1940 College All-Stars official starting XI as voted for by football fans all across the nation line-up for a press photo under the lights at Soldier Field in Chicago. In the starting backfield, from left to right, are : Purdue right halfback Lou Brock (# 40), USC quarterback Ambrose Schindler (# 24), Notre Dame fullback Joe Thesing (# 33) and Iowa left halfback Nile Kinnick (# 1). And up front at the line of scrimmage, from left to right, are : Ohio State right end Esa Sarkkinen (# 25), Notre Dame right tackle Tad Harvey (# 69), USC right guard Harry Smith (# 70), Hardin-Simmons center Clyde Turner (# 38), Indiana left guard Jim Logan (# 71), Northwestern left tackle Nick Cutlich (# 64) and USC left end Bill Fisk (# 50).
=======================================================

1940 College All-Star Voting : Halfback
—————————————————————
Nile Kinnick, Iowa ……………………… 1,189,076 ………… 14 All-America teams
Lou Brock, Purdue ……………………….. 963,482
Jack Padley, Dayton …………………….. 891,753
Dick Cassiano, Pitt ……………………….. 884,328 ………….. 4 All-America teams
Floyd Dean, Iowa ………………………….. 852,844
Benny Sheridan, Notre Dame ………… 826,197
Hal van Every, Minnesota ……………… 811,964 ……… (1st round NFL draft pick)
Bob Hoffman, USC ………………………… 802,518 ………….. 1 All-America team
Banks McFadden, Clemson …………….. 784,196 …………. 5 All-America teams
Bob Kellogg, Tulane ………………………. 751,425
Lou Zontini, Notre Dame ………………… 698,378
Bill Hutchison, Dartmouth ……………… 682,693
KENNY WASHINGTON, UCLA ……… 679,184 ………… 11 All-America teams
Olie Cordill, Rice ……………………………. 662,716 ………. (1st round NFL draft pick)
Dom Carney, Rockford …………………… 658,926
Jack Nix, Mississippi State ……………… 647,114
Joe Dubsky, Washington ………………… 438,552
George McAfee, Duke …………………….. 122,863 ………….. 7 All-America teams
Paul Stewart, Macomb (Ill) ……………… 116,492
Michael Brenkus, North Dakota ………… 98,215

(It is interesting to note that Kay Eakin, the Arkansas ball-slinger whom the Pittsburgh Steelers had made the third overall player picked in the first round of the 1940 National Football League Draft after leading the entire nation with 962 passing yards as a senior for the Razborbacks in 1939, finished in 25th place after receiving 28,317 votes)

1940 College All-Star Voting : Quarterback
———————————————————————
Ambrose Schindler, USC ………………… 759,312
Ted Hennis, Purdue ……………………….. 727,853
Grenville Lansdell, USC ………………….. 704,736 …………. 5 All-America teams
Tony Sacco, St. Ambrose …………………680,144
Steve Sitko, Notre Dame ………………… 653,416
Ben Kish, Pitt …………………………………. 627,504
George Cafego, Tennessee ………………. 604,293 …………. 9 All-America teams
Ken Heineman, Texas Mines …………… 582,817
Archie Steele, Bowling Green ………….. 439,607
Paul Krueger, Tulane ………………………. 216,593

(It is also interesting to note that USC third-string quarterback Doyle Nave, the so-called “Hero of the 1939 Rose Bowl” whom the Detroit Lions had made the sixth overall player taken in the first round of the 1940 NFL Draft, ended up in 17th place after garnering 21,278 votes)

1940 College All-Star Voting : Fullback
—————————————————————
Joe Thesing, Notre Dame ………………… 981,276
Dom Principe, Fordham ………………….. 704,755 …………. 4 All-America teams
George McGurn, Northwestern ……….. 676,392
Marty Christiansen, Minnesota ……….. 646,824
John McDermott, Detroit ……………….. 583,176
Frank Emmons, Oregon ………………….. 497,281
Jim Molnar, Bradley ……………………….. 321,754
Leon De Witte, Purdue ……………………. 137,963
Clarence Hydron, Missouri ……………… 118,582
Raymond Andrus, Vanderbilt ………….. 114,253

Fortunately for the sake of the College All-Stars’ chances in a game against the defending National Football League champions, the All-Stars coaches (who were always chosen after the balloting for the starting line-up had been completed) were under no obligation to leave any starting player(s) in the contest for any certain length of time after the opening kickoff.

In all reality, the vote to determine the starting XI for the College All-Stars was a ceremonial affair — actual playing time in the 1940 contest against the Packers, itself, would be decided on the practice field during the All-Stars’ eighteen-day training camp in August.

(As it was, the custom of allowing fans nationwide to elect a starting line-up and a coaching staff for the College All-Stars was discontinued in 1943)

Comments Off on Validating The All-America Candidacy Of Kenny Washington Via The 1940 College All-Star Game – The Vote For the Starting XI

Filed under UCLA - College All-Star Game, UCLA Football

UCLA Bruins In College All-Star Game At Chicago’s Soldier Field

ucla-68-beban-all-star-gameHard-charging Green Bay Packers defensive end Willie Davis (# 87) glares with intent as quarterback Gary Beban (# 16) from the UCLA Bruins, hero of the Rose Bowl in 1966 and winner of the Heisman Trophy in 1967, looks to unload the football in a hurry during the annual College All-Star Game at Soldier Field in Chicago that was witnessed by a crowd of 69,917 fans on August 2nd, 1968.

======================================

UCLA BRUINS appearing in COLLEGE ALL-STAR GAME
——————————————————————————————
1940 …. Kenny Washington – left halfback
1941 …. Jackie Robinson – right halfback
1947 …. Burr Baldwin – end, Ernie Case – halfback/placekicker
1948 …. Tom Fears – end
1951 … * Bob Wilkinson – end
1952 … * Hal Mitchell – tackle
1953 … * Donn Moomaw- guard, Ernie Stockert – end, Joe Sabol – halfback
1954 ….. Paul Cameron – left halfback
1955 … * Jim Salsbury – center
1957 ….. Don Shinnick – fullback
1961 ….. Billy Kilmer – quarterback
1963 ….. Kermit Alexander – halfback
1964 ….. Mel Profit – end
1967 … * Mel Farr – right halfback
1968 … * Gary Beban – quarterback
1976 …… Cliff Frazier – defensive tackle

* asterisk denotes UCLA player in official starting line-up for All-Stars

Notes — It is important to bear in mind that the above chart only lists players who actually made an official appearance in the annual contest at Soldier Field in Chicago, itself, and that participants are listed by the corresponding position played at the College All-Star Game (as compared to the position played for the UCLA Bruins during the preceding collegiate season).

Chuck Cheshire, the left halfback who was named Third Team All-America by the Newspapers Editors Association and accorded honorable mention status by both the Associated Press as well as the United Press as a senior in 1935, was one of 51 players selected for the College All-Star squad that faced the defending National Football League champion Detroit Lions in 1936. The 170-pound homegrown product out of Los Angeles High School, who established the UCLA school record for rushing yards in a single season (864) that stood until 1955 and still holds the Westwood school record for longest rushing play from scrimmage (93 yards versus Montana in 1934), had been the second round pick (# 17 overall) of those very same Detroit Lions at the 1936 NFL Draft. However, despite reportedly acquitting himself rather well during the training camp practice sessions prior to the game, Cheshire was not among the 32 total players used against the Lions by All-Stars head coach Bernie Bierman from the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers.

Jimmy Johnson, the Pro Football Hall of Fame defensive back whom the San Francisco 49ers had chosen with the sixth overall pick in the first round of the 1961 NFL Draft after the right halfback had averaged 8.5 yards per attempt on 21 rushing attempts and 18.1 yards per catch on 14 pass receptions as a senior for the UCLA Bruins during the 1960 NCAA season, was named to the College All-Star squad in 1961 but did not make an appearance in the annual classic at Soldier Field in Chicago.

Comments Off on UCLA Bruins In College All-Star Game At Chicago’s Soldier Field

Filed under UCLA - College All-Star Game, UCLA Football

The All-America Candidacy Of Kenny Washington, According To The Statistics – Part Three

kwash-cal-280Having thoroughly reviewed the statistics of the nine backfield players who have been deemed by this blog to be “serious consensus All-America candidates” with respect to the 1939 NCAA season, it is most important to expand on a concept first touched upon in the first part of this series.
In terms of quality of opposition that each individual All-America candidate had to contend with that year, it is extremely relevant to consider the number of collegiate players who were ultimately chosen by the professional clubs at the annual National Football League Draft to help put strength of schedule into proper perspective. Simply because, in any era, it is always the pro scouts and general managers whose very own livelihood flounders or flourishes based on their abilities to identify and acquire standout players.

One thing is certain – none of the other eight backfield players being scrutinized in this particular series, all of whom were named First Team All-America in 1939 by at least one of the fifteen major accredited organizations analyzed by this blog, had to face teams that season which featured as many future NFL Draft picks as UCLA Bruins left halfback KENNY WASHINGTON did.

1940 NFL Draft Picks Faced During 1939 NCAA Season
—————————————————————————————
WASHINGTON, UCLA ……. 31 NFL picks … 10 games …. 3.100 seniors/game
Kimbrough, Texas A&M * … 27 NFL picks … 11 games …. 2.455 seniors/game
Lansdell, USC ………………….. 24 NFL picks … 10 games …. 2.400 seniors game
Cafego, Tennessee * …………. 23 NFL picks … 11 games …. 2.091 seniors/game
Christman, Missouri …………. 20 NFL picks … 10 games … 2.000 seniors/game
Kinnick, Iowa * ………………… 16 NFL picks ….. 8 games …. 2.000 seniors game
Harmon, Michigan * …………. 11 NFL picks ….. 8 games …. 1.375 seniors game
McFadden, Clemson …………. 11 NFL picks … 10 games …. 1.100 seniors/game
McAfee, Duke ……………………. 9 NFL picks ….. 9 games …. 1.000 seniors/game

Total Future NFL Draft Picks Faced During 1939 NCAA Season
—————————————————————————————————
WASHINGTON, UCLA ……. 75 NFL picks … 10 games …. 7.500 total/game
Kinnick, Iowa * ………………… 57 NFL picks ….. 8 games …. 7.125 total/game
Lansdell, USC ………………….. 68 NFL picks …. 10 games …. 6.800 total/game
Kimbrough, Texas A&M * … 73 NFL picks …. 11 games …. 6.636 total/game
Harmon, Michigan * …………. 42 NFL picks ….. 8 games …. 5.250 total/game
Cafego, Tennessee * …………. 54 NFL picks … 11 games ….. 4.909 total/game
Christman, Missouri …………. 48 NFL picks … 10 games …. 4.800 total/game
McFadden, Clemson …………. 43 NFL picks … 10 games …. 4.300 total/game
McAfee, Duke …………………… 26 NFL picks ….. 9 games …. 2.889 total/game

It is only fair to point out that the overwhelming majority of All-America teams in 1939 were announced before the results of the 1940 National Football League Draft (which was actually held on December 9th, 1939) could have had any impact on the voting and, of course, the various All-America selectors could not have possibly known in advance exactly which sophomore and junior players were slated to be chosen at the upcoming NFL Drafts in 1941 and 1942.

Still, now that this sort of information is available to be reviewed, it only serves to bring the individual statistical accomplishments of the nine backfield players involved in the side-by-side comparison offered by this series into a much more clear focus.

Comments Off on The All-America Candidacy Of Kenny Washington, According To The Statistics – Part Three

Filed under UCLA Football

UCLA’s Kenny Washington Wins Douglas Fairbanks Trophy After Vote Of Collegiate Players

kwash-trophies
=======================================================

Several years before there ever was such a thing as the coveted Heisman Trophy (first presented in 1935) or even the prestigious Maxwell Award (1937), the collegiate football player rated to be the nation’s very best was bestowed with the honor of the DOUGLAS FAIRBANKS TROPHY.

The noteworthy prize was named after the famous silent film era actor who also was a founding member of both the United Artists entertainment company as well as The Motion Picture Academy organization. From its inception in 1931, the Douglas Fairbanks Trophy was directly tied to the annual All-America XI as determined by a poll of collegiate football players across the country and formally announced by the popular national magazine, Liberty Magazine. Players on every major college team were given specific instructions with respect to a comprehensive grading system co-invented by USC Trojans head coach Howard Jones along with prominent southern California syndicated sports columnist Norman L. Sper, Sr., and asked to vote for the very best performer at each position out of all the players that their own team had faced during the season in quesiton; additionally, players were also requested to name one opponent judged to be the most outstanding overall.

It is very relevant to note that Sper’s annual national poll of collegiate players on behalf of Liberty was always conducted after the very last of all NCAA regular season games in any given year had been played. At this particular point in time, of course, the majority of All-America squads were named before some college teams had actually completed their respective schedules. It is also important to remember that, from 1931 thru 1941, Liberty Magazine retained status as an official “selector” in terms of the NCAA’s annual Consensus All-America XI.

The roll call of Douglas Fairbanks Trophy winners reads very much like a list of college football’s brightest stars during the decade that preceded the United States’ involvement in colossal event known as World War II; as it turned out, all eleven of the players who won the Douglas Fairbanks Trophy were later enshrined in the College Football Hall Of Fame :

1931 …… Erny Pinckert …………………….. Southern Cal – sr HB
1932 …… Harry Newman ………………….. Michigan – sr QB
1933 …… Francis “Pug” Lund …………….. Minnesota – jr HB
1934 …… Robert “Bones” Hamilton …… Stanford – jr HB
1935 …… Jay Berwanger ……………………. Chicago – sr HB
1936 …… Sam Francis ……………………….. Nebraska – sr HB
1937 …… Byron “Whizzer” White ………. Colorado – sr HB
1938 …… Davey O’Brien ……………………. Texas Christian – sr QB
1939 …… Kenny Washington …………….. UCLA – sr HB
1940 …… Tom Harmon …………………….. Michigan – sr HB
1941 ……. Frank Sinkwich ………………….. Georgia – jr HB

As for the validity of allowing the collegiate players to serve as the voters exclusively, no less of a qualified authority than the professional scouts and coaching staffs of the National Football League clubs, themselves, certainly seemed to stamp their overwhelming approval on the individual players who were being chosen to receive the Douglas Fairbanks Trophy each year … (with the conspicuous exception of UCLA’s Washington, that is) :

Berwanger …… 1st round, 1st overall – 1936 NFL Draft ……. Philadelphia
Hamilton …….. 8th round, 67th overall – 1936 NFL Draft … Brooklyn
Francis ………… 1st round, 1st overall – 1937 NFL Draft ……. Philadelphia
White ………….. 1st round, 4th overall – 1938 NFL Draft …… Pittsburgh
O’Brien ………… 1st round, 4th overall – 1939 NFL Draft …… Philadelphia
Washington ……………….. not selected – 1940 NFL Draft
Harmon ……….. 1st round, 1st overall – 1941 NFL Draft ……. Chicago
Sinkwich ………. 1st round, 1st overall – 1943 NFL Draft ……. Detroit

————————————————————————————————————————

“GRIDDERS NAME KEN WASHINGTON GREATEST PLAYER”

Berkeley Daily Gazette – December 27, 1939

NEW YORK (United Press) — 1,659 players from 91 major football schools in the country today selected their own All-America team based on the ability of their rivals during the 1939 season. Their selection appears in the Liberty Magazine on sale today as is unique in that it was picked without the benefit of “experts”. Only one of the 664 players named (i.e., at all positions) received the vote of every player who opposed him (and) he was Kenny Washington, UCLA’s great halfback.

————————————————————————————————————————

The Berkeley Daily Gazette article referred to above also reported that “91 of the 93 ballots cast by opponents of the University of Michigan this year named Tom Harmon as the outstanding player they faced”. But those most impressive returns still left Harmon short as far as the voting for the Douglas Fairbanks Trophy was concerned. This because all 103 of the votes cast by opponents of the University of California at Los Angeles labeled Washington, the nation’s total offense (yards rushing & passing) leader in 1939, as the very best.

1 Comment

Filed under UCLA Football

The All-America Candidacy Of UCLA’s Kenny Washington, According To The Statistics – Part Two

ucla-38-wash-kwash-pass-rec
==================================================
UCLA Bruins left halfback KENNY WASHINGTON hauls in a forward pass opposite the California Golden Bears during the Pacific Coast Conference game at California Memorial Stadium in Berkeley on October 15, 1938. Two weeks earlier, against the Oregon Ducks on the road in Eugene, the dynamic junior out of Lincoln High School in Los Angeles had caught a 17-yard touchdown pass from right halfback Merle Harris. In addition to leading the Bruins in passing yardage during each of his three varsity seasons, Washington also had multiple pass receptions in each of his three NCAA campaigns, as well, catching a total of nine passes for 128 yards (14.2 avg) and one touchdown over the course of his distinguished collegiate career.
==================================================

Continuing on with a thorough statistical review of the nine major All-America backfield candidates for the 1939 NCAA season, it is important to bear in mind that seven of the nine players in question were, in fact, the primary passers for their respective teams with right halfback George McAfee of Duke and fullback John Kimbrough of Texas A&M being the two execptions. However, one of the great hallmarks of Single Wing football in the years between the two World Wars was the bygone aspect that any of the four backfield players could be inclined to a forward pass at any given time and, of course, any of the four backfield players might also be the intended pass receiver, as well. During this particular era of limited substitution football, there can be no doubt whatsoever that versatility (i.e., the ability to run, pass, catch, tackle and even punt or kick) was an extremely valuable commodity.

229 yards … 10 pass receptions … 3 tds …… McAfee, Duke
110 yards ….. 4 pass receptions … 1 tds …… Harmon, Michigan *

51 yards ……. 2 pass receptions … 0 tds …… WASHINGTON, UCLA
39 yards ……. 5 pass receptions … 0 tds …… Kimbrough, Texas A&M *
23 yards ……. 1 pass reception ….. 1 tds …… McFadden, Clemson

0 yards ……… 0 pass receptions … 0 tds …… Kinnick, Iowa *
0 yards ……… 0 pass receptions … 0 tds …… Cafego, Tennessee *
0 yards ……… 0 pass receptions … 0 tds …… Lansdell, USC
0 yards ……… 0 pass receptions … 0 tds …… Christman, Missouri

(* asterisk indicates 1939 Consensus First Team All-America as recognized by the National Collegiate Athletic Association … final receiving totals include statistics from Cotton Bowl, Orange Bowl, Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl games played on January 1, 1940)

It should not be forgotten that, as a junior, Duke’s McAfee also caught three passes for 45 yards against the USC Trojans in the legendary 1939 Rose Bowl contest despite missing the Blue Devils’ first seven games of the 1938 NCAA campaign due to injury. Blessed with breakaway speed in addition to a reliable set of hands, factor in the ability to effectively return kickoffs & punts and it is not very hard to figure out why the Philadelphia Eagles would have chosen the Duke senior right halfback with the second overall pick in the first round of the 1940 National Football League Draft. As it was, McAfee easily finished among the NCAA’s top ten players having accumulated 825 total yards from scrimmage rushing and receiving in 1939 :

978 yards rushing & receiving … 13 tds …… Harmon, Michigan *
862 yards rushing & receiving ….. 5 tds …… Washington, UCLA
825 yards rushing & receiving ….. 7 tds …… McAfee, Duke
742 yards rushing & receiving ….. 9 tds …… Lansdell, USC
666 yards rushing & receiving … 12 tds …… Kimbrough, Texas A&M *
503 yards rushing & receiving ….. 5 tds …… McFadden, Clemson
452 yards rushing & receiving ….. 1 tds …… Cafego, Tennessee *
436 yards rushing & receiving ….. 7 tds …… Christman, Missouri
374 yards rushing & receiving ….. 5 tds …… Kinnick, Iowa *

On the subject of versatility, there is also absolutely no question that the ability to excel in the fine art of running back kickoffs and punts had a certain influence on many of those voting not only for the various All-America teams but also the Heisman Trophy, itself, as well.

After returning a combined total of seven kickoffs in his first two varsity seasons for the Iowa Hawkeyes, undersized left halfback Nile Kinnick fielded more than twice that many during his highly decorated senior campaign in 1939 and was officially recognized as the NCAA leader based on total yards gained :

377 yards … 15 kick returns … 25.1 avg ……. Kinnick, Iowa *
178 yards ….. 4 kick returns … 37.0 avg …… Cafego, Tennessee *
132 yards ….. 5 kick returns … 26.4 avg …… Harmon, Michigan *
111 yards …… 5 kick returns … 22.2 avg …… McAfee, Duke
107 yards ….. 6 kick returns … 17.8 avg …… WASHINGTON, UCLA

14 yards …….. 1 kick return …. 14.0 avg …… McFadden, Clemson

For whatever reason, UCLA star left halfback Kenny Washington was much more effective as a kick returner in his sophomore and junior seasons for the Bruins, averaging more than twenty-three yards per return in each of his first two collegiate seasons; altogether, Washington returned a total of 19 kickoffs for 428 yards (22.5 avg) during his three years with the Westwood varsity.

====================================================
kwash-strode-robinson-470
====================================================
UCLA left end WOODY STRODE (# 27), who led the Westwood gridiron warriors with 15 pass receptions for 218 yards as a senior, was lauded as an Honorable Mention All-America by the Associated Press in 1939. Bruins junior right halfback JACKIE ROBINSON (# 28) was cited as an Honorable Mention All-America by both the AP as well as the Newspaper Enterprise Association in addition to be named “Additional Backfield” (what amounted to Third Team) All-America by Life Magazine that same year. During the 1939 NCAA season, UCLA left halfback KENNY WASHINGTON (# 13) tossed a pair of touchdown passes to both Strode and Robinson.
====================================================

It was, of course, none other than UCLA right halfback Jackie Robinson who led the entire nation in 1939 by averaging 16.4 yards per return after running back 18 punts for 295 yards in his first gridiron season with the Bruins following his transfer from Pasadena Junior College in early January of that year; based on total yards gained, it was Abisha “Bosh” Pritchard of Virginia Military Institute, the 170-pound sophomore right halfback in his first term with the Keydets after transferring to V.M.I. from Georgia Tech, who was formally recognized as the NCAA leader in 1939 with 583 yards on 42 punt returns (13.9 avg) :

365 yards … 37 punt returns ….. 9.9 avg … 0 tds …… McAfee, Duke
253 yards … 19 punt returns … 13.3 avg …. 1 tds …… Cafego, Tennessee *
227 yards … 19 punt returns … 11.9 avg …. 0 tds …… Kinnick, Iowa *

18 yards …….. 1 punt return ….. 18.0 avg … 0 tds …… WASHINGTON, UCLA
11 yards …….. 2 punt returns ….. 5.5 avg …. 0 tds …… Harmon, Michigan *

8 yards ………. 5 punt returns ….. 1.6 avg …. 0 tds …… McFadden, Clemson

Unfortunately, the punt return statistics for the 1939 NCAA season of USC Trojans senior quarterback Grenville Lansdell are not available for display here. But it will be noted for the record that the player whom the New York Giants made the tenth overall pick in the first round of the 1940 NFL Draft logged no less than two touchdowns on punt returns as a junior for Southern Cal in 1938. Lansdell, yet another product of Pasadena Junior College, ran one boot back 82 yards for a touchdown versus the Ohio State Buckeyes and returned another punt 71 yards to register six points against the Washington Huskies.

The one and only punt return touchdown in the collegiate career of Tennessee Volunteers left halfback George Cafego, whom the Chicago Cardinals made the first overall pick in the first round of the 1940 NFL Draft, came at the expense of little Sewanee : The University of the South, who were, to be succint, perennial doormats of the Southeastern Conference throughout the 1930s.

Of course, football was still a two-way game with players going both ways on offense and defense at the time that Kenny Washington was starring for the UCLA Bruins. During the Single Wing era, the fullback played at linebacker while the other three backfield players were deployed in the defensive secondary. At that time, no one bothered to keep track of individual tackles for statistical purposes, but contemporary newspaper writers, naturally, noted which players were the most influential on defense — one thing is certain, throughout the course of his collegiate career for UCLA, Washington was constantly praised for his ferocious tackling and his tendency to be involved in a high number tackles, as well.

As far as pass defense was concerned, it was left halfback Hal van Every of the Minnesota Golden Gophers, the the first round pick (# 9 overall) of the Green Bay Packers at the 1940 NFL Draft, who led the entire nation by intercepting nine passes during the 1939 NCAA season :

8 int … 52 yards … 0 tds …… Kinnick, Iowa *
5 int … 59 yards … 0 tds …… Kimbrough, Texas A&M *
4 int … 56 yards … 0 tds …… McAfee, Duke
3 int … 98 yards …. 1 tds …… Harmon, Michigan *
3 int … 29 yards …. 0 tds …… McFadden, Clemson
1 int … 28 yards …. 0 tds …… WASHINGTON, UCLA
1 int ….. 0 yards …. 0 tds …… Lansdell, USC
0 int ….. 0 yards …. 0 tds …… Cafego, Tennessee *

If there was one particular facet of the game that Iowa’s Kinnick truly excelled at over the course of his entire collegiate career, it was pilfering forward passes thrown by the Hawkeyes’ opponents. The 1939 Heisman Trophy winner registered no fewer than 18 interceptions during his three varsity seasons for the Hawkeyes, a figure that still stands as the school record to this very day. Eight interceptions in a single season is also happens to be yet another feat which has never been bettered by any other Iowa player before or since.

Ironically enough, the interception that Michigan’s Harmon hauled back for a touchdown in 1939 was the spectacular 95-yard return of a pass thrown by Iowa’s Kinnick during the Wovlerines’ 27-7 romp over the Hawkeyes on the second Saturday in October of that year.

Comments Off on The All-America Candidacy Of UCLA’s Kenny Washington, According To The Statistics – Part Two

Filed under UCLA Football