Ewell Doak Walker II (January 1, 1927 – September 27, 1998) was an American football player. He played college football as a halfback at Southern Methodist University (SMU), where he won the Heisman Trophy in 1948. Walker then played professionally in the National Football League (NFL) with the Detroit Lions for six seasons, from 1950 to 1955.
Walker was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1959 and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1986. The Doak Walker Award, awarded annually since 1990 to the top running back in college football, is named after him.
Walker in 1948
|Position:||Halfback, kicker, punter|
|Born:||January 1, 1927|
Dallas, Texas, U.S.
|Died:||September 27, 1998 (aged 71)|
Steamboat Springs, Colorado, U.S.
|Height:||5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)|
|Weight:||175 lb (79 kg)|
|High school:||Highland Park (TX)|
|NFL Draft:||1949 / Round: 1 / Pick: 3|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Career NFL statistics|
Walker was born in Dallas, Texas, in 1927. His father, Ewell Doak Walker, Sr., was a Tennessee native and a school teacher who later became assistant superintendent and personnel director of the Dallas school system. His mother Emma was a Texas native, and he had a younger sister, Elsa.
Walker attended Highland Park High School in University Park, where he was a five-sport athlete in football, basketball, baseball, swimming, and track and field. In 1944, Doak Walker led his high school football team to the state championship game. He and future college and NFL star Bobby Layne were teammates at Highland Park; Layne played college football at the University of Texas in Austin.
Two days after being discharged from the Merchant Marine, Walker appeared in his first college football game for Southern Methodist University. Walker played in five games for the SMU Mustangs in November 1945 and was sufficiently impressive as a halfback and placekicker as to win All-Southwest Conference honors and a spot in the annual East–West Shrine Game in San Francisco. In the Shrine game, he threw a tying touchdown pass for the West team.
Walker did not play college football in 1946, as he was inducted into the U.S. Army in March 1946. His stint was brief, playing football for the Brooke Medical Center service team in San Antonio before being discharged in January 1947.
Following his discharge, Walker re-enrolled at SMU and rejoined the Mustangs football team. As a sophomore, he led Southern Methodist to a 1947 SWC championship and was named to a myriad of All-American teams. He gained similar All-American honors in 1948, and 1949. Walker won the Maxwell Award as a sophomore in 1947 and the Heisman Trophy in 1948 as a junior.
During his award-winning 1948 season, Walker gained 532 yards on the ground, carrying the ball 108 times for a 4.9 yards per carry average. He also threw six touchdown passes from the halfback position, going 26-for-46 and gaining 304 yards in the air. As a receiver, Walker hauled in 15 passes for 279 yards and 3 touchdowns. On the defensive side of the ball, he intercepted three passes. He also punted for a 42.1 yard average for the Mustangs, returned punts and kickoffs, and did duty as the SMU placekicker. Walker finished the year with 11 touchdowns scored, which combined with his kicking put 88 points on the scoreboard for the year.
Walker's impact on SMU and football in the Dallas area led to the Cotton Bowl's expansion and nickname: "The House That Doak Built." He was also a member of Phi Delta Theta fraternity, the men's society Cycen Fjodr, and lettered on the SMU basketball and baseball teams.
Following his junior year at SMU, Walker was selected by the Boston Yanks with the third pick of in the 1949 NFL Draft, held in December 1948. The Detroit Lions acquired Walker's rights from Boston in exchange for Johnny Rauch, who the Lions had selected with the second pick of the 1949 NFL Draft. The Cleveland Browns held the AAFC to arbitrate their conflicting claims or flip a coin. Instead, the Browns agreed in January 1950 to forego their claim to Walker in exchange for the Lions' second pick in the 1950 NFL Draft.
In Detroit, Walker was reunited with former high school teammate Bobby Layne who the Lions acquired by trade in April 1950. The two Texans led the Lions to one of the top scoring offenses during the 1950 NFL season, as Layne led the NFL with 2,323 passing yards and Walker led the league with 128 points on five rushing touchdowns, six receiving touchdowns, 38 extra points, and eight field goals. Walker appeared in all 12 games for the 1950 Lions at the left halfback position; he rushed for 386 yards on 83 carries (4.7 yards per carry), caught 34 passes for 534 yards, and totaled 1,262 all-purpose yards. He was selected by both the Associated Press (AP) and United Press (UP) as a first-team player on the 1950 All-Pro Team. His 128 points in 1950 was the second highest single-season total in NFL history to that time.
Walker had another strong season in 1951, appearing in all 12 games at left halfback for the Lions, totaling 1,270 all-purpose yards (fourth best in the NFL), scoring 97 points (third best in the NFL), and leading the NFL with 43 extra points. He was again selected by the AP and UP as a first-team All-Pro.
Walker suffered leg injuries that limited him to seven games during the 1952 season. He was fully recovered in time for the post-season and rushed for 97 yards and caught two passes against the Browns in the 1952 NFL Championship Game.
Healthy for the full 1953 season, Walker helped lead the Lions to their second consecutive NFL championship. He ranked third in the NFL with 93 points scored and totaled 978 all-purpose yards, including 502 receiving yards and 337 rushing yards. In the 1953 NFL Championship Game, he scored a touchdown and kicked a field goal and an extra point to account for 10 of the Lions' 17 points. At the end of the 1953 season, Walker was selected by the AP as a first-team All-Pro and by the UP as a second-team All-Pro.
In 1954, Walker helped lead the Lions to their third consecutive NFL Western Division championship. He led the NFL with 43 extra points (out of 43 attempted) and an average of 14.4 yards per touch. He ranked second in the NFL with 106 points scored and third with 11 field goals. He also kicked a field goal and an extra point in the 1954 NFL Championship Game and was selected by the AP, UP, and The Sporting News as a first-team back on the 1954 All-Pro Team.
In July 1955, Walker signed a contract worth $27,500 to play a final season for the Lions and to serve as a special scout for the Lions in Texas in 1956 and 1957. At age 28, Walker retired not because his abilities had diminished but because of the need to attend to multiple business interests in Texas. In his final season, he appeared in all 12 games for the Lions and led the NFL in scoring with 96 points. Walker scored 11 points in the final game of the season to secure the league's scoring title. His 1955 scoring title was remarkable given the fact that it was achieved while playing for a team that won only three games and compiled the worst record in the NFL.
On December 11, 1955, the day of Walker's final regular season game, the Lions held a "Doak Walker Day" at Briggs Stadium at which he was presented with a silver football engraved with the names of his teammates and coaches. Walker's jersey (No. 37) was also retired as part of the ceremony.
At the time of his retirement, Walker ranked third in NFL history with 534 points scored (not including 21 post-season points) in six NFL seasons. Only Don Hutson (825 points in 11 seasons) and Bob Waterfield (573 points in eight seasons) had scored more points. Walker also totaled 1,520 rushing yards on 309 carries (4.9 yards per carry) and 152 receptions for 2,539 yards (16.7 yards per reception).
Walker has received numerous honors for his football career. His honors include the following:
"He's Doak Walker, and he was as golden as golden gets. He had perfectly even, white teeth and a jaw as square as a deck of cards and a mop of brown hair that made girls bite their necklaces. He was so shifty you couldn't have tackled him in a phone booth, yet so humble that he wrote the Associated Press a thank-you note for naming him an All-American. Come to think of it, he was a three-time All-American, twice one of the Outstanding Players in the Cotton Bowl, a four-time All-Pro. He appeared on 47 covers, including Life, Look and Collier's. One time, Kyle Rote, another gridiron golden boy, saw a guy buying a football magazine at a newsstand. 'Don't buy that one,' Rote said. 'It's not official. It doesn't have a picture of Doak Walker on the cover.'"
Shortly after Walker's death in 1998, Texas running back Ricky Williams wore Walker's number 37 in a game as opposed to his customary number 34 in remembrance of Walker. Williams would go on to set the NCAA all-time rushing record that season (though it has since been eclipsed by Ron Dayne), winning the Heisman Trophy in the process.
In March 1950, Walker married his college sweetheart, Norma Jane Peterson, at the Highland Park Presbyterian Church in Dallas. His groomsmen included Bobby Layne and Kyle Rote They had four children: Laurie ('52), Kris ('56), Russ ('60) & Scott ('63). They were divorced in 1965. Walker married Olympic ski racer Skeeter Werner in 1969, and they lived in her hometown of Steamboat Springs, Colorado.
Walker left pro football in 1955 to concentrate on his private business interests in sporting goods and as a sales executive with an electrical contracting company. Walker took a position as a coach with the Akron Vulcans of the Continental Football League. When the Vulcans owner was exposed as a con-artist and stopped paying his bills, Walker and his assistant coaches (Tobin Rote and Lou Rymkus being among them) kept the team alive as long as they could with funds out of their own pockets; Walker eventually quit before the team folded. He later founded Walker Chemicals in Denver, a company he sold upon retirement.
In January 1998, at age 71, Walker was paralyzed from the neck down in a skiing accident at Steamboat Springs, Colorado. He died at age 71 in September 1998 as a result of injuries suffered from the same skiing accident eight months earlier. After hitting a change in terrain, he flew 20 to 30 feet in the air and tumbled 75 feet.
The 1947 Baylor Bears football team was an American football team that represented Baylor University in the Southwest Conference (SWC) during the 1947 college football season. In its first season under head coach Bob Woodruff, the team compiled a 5–5 record (1–5 against conference opponents), finished in last place in the conference, and was outscored by a total of 138 to 128. The team played its home games at Municipal Stadium in Waco, Texas. James W. Griffin was the team captain.The 1947 season featured great backs across the Southwest Conference. Baylor lost games to SMU (No. 3 in the final AP Poll) led by halfback Doak Walker; Texas (No. 5 in the final AP Poll) led by quarterback Bobby Layne; and Rice (No. 18 in the final AP Poll) led by quarterback Tobin Rote. It won against an Arkansas team led by halfback Clyde Scott who was later inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.1948 Cotton Bowl Classic
The 1948 Cotton Bowl Classic was a post-season game between the SMU Mustangs and the Penn State Nittany Lions. The game was a struggle of yardage with the final score being decided on a missed extra point.1948 SMU Mustangs football team
The 1948 SMU Mustangs football team represented the SMU Mustangs of Southern Methodist University during the 1948 college football season. Doak Walker was a junior when he won the Heisman Trophy. Doak established several other Southwest Conference records that still stand.1949 Cotton Bowl Classic
The 1949 Cotton Bowl Classic was a post-season game between the SMU Mustangs and the Oregon Webfoots. 20 points were scored in the final quarter.1951 All-Pro Team
The 1951 All-Pro Team consisted of American football players chosen by various selectors for the All-Pro team of the National Football League (NFL) for the 1951 NFL season. Teams were selected by, among others, the Associated Press (AP) (chosen in a national poll of AP football writers), the United Press (UP) (selected by UP sports writers), and the New York Daily News.The All-Pro selections were dominated by players from the Cleveland Browns (nine first-team honorees including Otto Graham and Lou Groza), New York Giants (seven honorees including Emlen Tunnell), Los Angeles Rams (six first-team honorees including Elroy Hirsch), and Detroit Lions (four first-team honorees including Doak Walker).
This was the first year that separate defensive and offensive teams were selected as up until this point most players had played both ways for much of the game (although this had decreased in the later 1940s), so a quarterback/tailback/ halfback on offense usually just became a defensive back similar to today's safety when playing defense while the fullback, usually a larger player, or a larger halfback (and before the T-formation, the quarterback, who was usually actually a blocking back on offence), would play a position similar to linebacker. Ends would also usually convert to defensive backs, similar to corner backs of today.1952 NFL Championship Game
The 1952 National Football League championship game was the 20th annual championship game, held on December 28 at Cleveland Municipal Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio.The Detroit Lions (9–3) were the National Conference champions and met the Cleveland Browns (8–4), champions of the American Conference. It was the first of three consecutive matchups in the title game between the Lions and Browns.
The Lions were led by quarterback Bobby Layne, running back Doak Walker, and head coach Buddy Parker, and the Browns were led by head coach Paul Brown and quarterback Otto Graham. It was the Browns' third consecutive NFL championship game appearance since joining the NFL in 1950. The Lions returned to the title game after 17 years, since their win in 1935.
The Lions finished the 1952 regular season tied with the Los Angeles Rams (9–3) for top of the National Conference. Even though the Lions won both meetings, the rules of the day called for a tiebreaker playoff game. The teams' third game was held at Briggs Stadium in Detroit on December 21, which the Lions also won, 31–21.The Lions were 3½-point favorites in the title game, and won by ten points, 17–7.1953 Detroit Lions season
The 1953 Detroit Lions season resulted in the Lions winning their second consecutive and third overall National Football League (NFL) championship. In their fourth year under head coach Buddy Parker, the Lions compiled a 10–2 record during the regular season, outscored opponents 271 to 205, finished in first place in the NFL's Western Division, and defeated the Cleveland Browns, 17–16, in the 1953 NFL Championship Game at Briggs Stadium in Detroit.
The 1953 Lions ranked fifth in the NFL in scoring offense. The offense was led by quarterback Bobby Layne who compiled 2,431 yards of total offense (2,088 passing, 343 rushing) and 16 passing touchdowns. Halfback Doak Walker totaled 839 yards from scrimmage, (337 rushing, 502 receiving) and was the team's leading scorer with 93 points on five touchdowns, 12 field goals, and 27 extra points. For the fourth year in a row, Bob Hoernschemeyer was the team's leading rusher, contributed 764 yards from scrimmage (482 rushing, 282 receiving) and scored nine touchdowns.
The team also ranked second in the NFL in scoring defense. Defensive back Jack Christiansen led the NFL with 12 interceptions and 238 interception return yards. Eight members of the 1953 Lions were selected as first-team All-NFL players for the 1953 season: middle guard Les Bingaman, Christiansen, offensive guard Lou Creekmur, Hoernschemeyer, Layne, defensive tackle Thurman McGraw, guard Dick Stanfel, and Walker. Seven members of the team, Christiansen, Creekmur, safety Yale Lary, Layne, linebacker Joe Schmidt, guard Dick Stanfel, and Walker, were later inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.1953 NFL Championship Game
The 1953 National Football League championship game was the 21st annual championship game, held on December 27 at Briggs Stadium in Detroit.The defending NFL champion Detroit Lions (10–2) of the Western Conference were led by quarterback Bobby Layne and running back Doak Walker, and the Cleveland Browns (11–1) of the Eastern Conference were led by head coach Paul Brown and quarterback Otto Graham. The game was a rematch of the previous year, which was won by the Lions, 17–7.
This was the Browns' fourth consecutive NFL championship game appearance since joining the league in 1950, and they were favored by three points.The Lions were attempting to become the third team in the championship game era (since 1933) to win two titles in a row, following the Chicago Bears (1940, 1941) and Philadelphia Eagles (1948, 1949).The home underdog Lions rallied in the fourth quarter with a late touchdown and conversion to win by a single point, 17–16. The two teams met the following year for a third consecutive title match-up.1954 NFL Championship Game
The 1954 National Football League championship game was the league's 22nd annual championship game, held on December 26 at Cleveland Municipal Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio. Billed as the "1954 World Professional Football Championship Game," the turnover-plagued contest was won by quarterback Otto Graham and the Cleveland Browns, who defeated Bobby Layne and the Detroit Lions by a score of 56 to 10.1999 Cotton Bowl Classic
The 1999 Southwestern Bell Cotton Bowl Classic was a post-season college football game played on January 1, 1999. It pitted the Texas Longhorns against the Southeastern Conference (SEC) West champions Mississippi State Bulldogs. This was the first Cotton Bowl Classic broadcast by Fox.
This game was the first time Texas had reached the post-season since the 1996 season. It was the first bowl game for Texas under new head coach Mack Brown. Texas had compiled an 8–3 season record.
Meanwhile, Mississippi State had compiled an 8–3 regular season record under head coach Jackie Sherrill. They won the SEC West division title before falling to Tennessee, 24–14, in the SEC Championship game. The loss knocked them to 8–4 coming into the bowl game.
Behind the rushing of Ricky Williams, who was declared the Heisman Trophy and Doak Walker award winner a few days before, Texas raced to a 14–3 lead by halftime. They scored 24 unanswered points in the third quarter en route to a 38–11 victory.
It was Texas's first bowl game win since the 1994 Sun Bowl, and their first 9-win season as a Big 12 team (Texas had left the Southwest Conference and joined the Big 12 at the start of the 1996 season). It was also Texas's first New Year's Day bowl win since the 1981 season. It was also the first Cotton Bowl Classic on Fox.Andre Williams (American football)
Andre Rishard Williams (born August 28, 1992) is an American football running back who is currently a free agent. He was drafted by the New York Giants in the fourth round of the 2014 NFL Draft. He played college football at Boston College, where he was a finalist for the 2013 Heisman Trophy, and won the 2013 Doak Walker Award as the nation's best running back. During the 2013 season, Williams became only the 16th player in NCAA history to rush for over 2,000 yards and he finished his college career ranked 5th all-time for most yards rushed in a single season with 2,177 yards.Bam Morris
Byron "Bam" Morris (born January 13, 1972) is a former American football running back who played for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Chicago Bears, Baltimore Ravens, and the Kansas City Chiefs.Byron Hanspard
Byron Courtnay Hanspard, Sr. (born January 23, 1976) is a former American college and professional football player who was a running back in the National Football League (NFL) for two seasons during the 1990s. He played college football for Texas Tech University, earned All-American honors and won the Doak Walker Award as the nation's top college running back. A second-round pick in the 1997 NFL Draft, he played professionally for the NFL's Atlanta Falcons.Doak Walker Award
The Doak Walker Award, first awarded in 1990, honors the top running back in college football in the United States. It is named in honor of Doak Walker, a star halfback in college for the SMU Mustangs and in the National Football League for the Detroit Lions. The 2018 winner of the Doak Walker Award was Jonathan Taylor of Wisconsin.
The award requires all candidates to be:
in good academic standing, and
on schedule to graduate within one year of students in their eligibility classification.The award recipient receives a sculpture of Doak Walker, cast in bronze and mounted on a wooden base. It was created by artist Blair Buswell, who has sculpted the busts of more than a dozen inductees in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.Greg Lewis (running back)
Gregory Alan Lewis (born August 10, 1969) is an American former college and professional football player who was a running back for the Denver Broncos of the National Football League (NFL) for two seasons in the 1990s. Lewis received All-American honors and the Pacific-10 Conference offensive player of the year award in 1990 at the University of Washington. He was the inaugural winner of the Doak Walker Award given to college football's most outstanding running back.Jonathan Taylor (American football)
Jonathan Taylor (born January 19, 1999) is an American football running back for the Wisconsin Badgers. During the 2018 season he won the Doak Walker Award, the award for the top running back in college football.LaMichael James
LaMichael Keondrae "LaMike" James (born October 22, 1989) is a former American football running back. James played college football for the University of Oregon.
The 2010 season was a breakout one for James, as he rushed for 1,731 yards, the highest in the nation. He finished third in balloting for the Heisman Trophy that year and received the Doak Walker Award. In 2011, he became Oregon's career rushing leader and rushed for a school-record 1,805 yards. He was considered to be one of the top running backs throughout his college career, with his 5,082 total rushing yards placing him 2nd in Pac-12 Conference history and 14th in NCAA history. James was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft.Nils V. "Swede" Nelson Award
The Nils V. "Swede" Nelson Award is an American college football award given annually by the Gridiron Club of Greater Boston to "the player who by his conduct on and off the gridiron demonstrates a high esteem for the football code and exemplifies sportsmanship to an outstanding degree" among northeastern colleges and universities. In 1982, the award was narrowed to the player deemed to be the "very best, and most academically talented, college football player in New England." Since 1989, the award has been given annually to two players (with the exception of a single winner in 1996 and three winners in 2007), one from a Division I football program, and one from a small college.The award is the fourth oldest collegiate football award in the United States, following the Heisman, Maxwell, and George "Bulger" Lowe trophies.The award is named for the founder of the Gridiron Club, Nils V. "Swede" Nelson, a former college player at Harvard and coach. Nelson was a member of the unbeaten Harvard football team that defeated Oregon in the 1920 Rose Bowl.
The inaugural winner of the trophy was quarterback Perry Moss of Illinois in 1946. Other notable winners of the award include Doak Walker (1949), Johnny Bright (1951), Floyd Little (1966), Dick Jauron (1971), Otis Armstrong (1972), Tom Waddle (1988), Jay Fiedler (1992), Matt Hasselbeck (1997), and Mark Herzlich (2009).Toby Gerhart
Tobin Bo Gunnar Gerhart (born March 28, 1987) is a former American football running back. He was selected by the Minnesota Vikings in the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft. He played college football for Stanford University, and was a unanimous All-American. In 2009 Gerhart won the Doak Walker Award and was the runner-up for the 2009 Heisman Trophy. He received 1,276 points in the Heisman voting, coming in second to Mark Ingram Jr., who received 1,304 points; the 28-point margin was the closest vote in Heisman history. Gerhart had a breakout senior season in 2009, leading all running backs in the nation in rushing yards, touchdowns, and points scored, and setting several Pac-10 and school records. He held the Stanford record for most rushing yards in a season (1,871) until Christian McCaffrey broke it in 2015, but still holds Cardinal records for touchdowns in a season (28), and most touchdowns in a career (40).
Doak Walker—awards, championships, and honors