Felix “Doc” Blanchard, SSC Class of 1941, Wins Heisman Trophy in 1945
Felix “Doc” Blanchard was born in McColl, South Carolina. Doc’s father, Felix Blanchard, graduated from Saint Stanislaus in 1915. He was one of the first big names in athletics from Saint Stanislaus. After graduating, he played football for Tulane and became a medical doctor. Blanchard, nicknamed “Doc” because of his father’s occupation, attended from the sixth to twelfth grade and excelled at all sports.
He played four varsity seasons for the Rocks from 1938-41. As a senior, Blanchard led Saint Stanislaus to an undefeated season and the Gulf Coast Championship. The team played Jesuit High School in the annual Toy Bowl in New Orleans following the season. During his senior season, Blanchard was a 1,000-yard rusher and scored 165 points as he also kicked, punted, and played defense for the Rocks. He was named to the All-Gulf Coast team for his play.
Doc Blanchard was recruited to play football by Army, Fordham, and Notre Dame, among others, but chose to play for North Carolina, in part because its coach, Jim Tatum, was his mother’s cousin. Because NCAA rules at the time did not allow freshman to play varsity, Blanchard played with the freshman team.
Doc decided to enlist in the United States Army in 1943. He was stationed in New Mexico with a chemical-warfare unit until enrolling at West Point Military Academy in 1944.
During his three years of playing football at West Point, Army compiled an undefeated 27-0-1 record and won three national championships.
An all-around athlete, the 6 foot, 290-pound Blanchard served as the place kicker and punter in addition to his primary roles as an offensive fullback and a linebacker on defense. He teamed with Glenn Davis to form one of the most lethal rushing combinations in football history. In his three seasons at West Point, Blanchard scored 38 touchdowns, gained 1,908 yards and earned the nickname “Mr. Inside.” Teammate Davis earned the nickname “Mr. Outside,” and in November 1945, they both shared the cover of Time magazine.
As a sophomore, Blanchard was third in the Heisman voting after rushing for 335 yards and five touchdowns and catching three passes for 96 yards and three more scores. Army went undefeated and won the national title.
He totaled 17 touchdowns as a junior, rushing for 722 yards and 16 TDs with a 7.1 average while catching four passes for 166 yards and one more score. Army again went undefeated and won the national title. Blanchard won the Heisman while Davis finished second, the only time players from the same school have finished 1-2 in the Heisman vote.
In 1946, Blanchard missed the first two games of the season due to an injury to his knee, but he had another fine year with 613 rushing yards and 10 total touchdowns. He finished fifth in the Heisman vote, and Davis won the Heisman.
In 1947, Blanchard and Davis played themselves in the movie “The Spirit of West Point.”
In addition to football, Blanchard was also a member of the Army track and field team, when he won the 1945 NCAA shot put championship, and had a 10-second 100-yard dash.
In 1947, Blanchard graduated from West Point and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the United States Air Force. He coached Army’s freshman team in the 1950s, but he never played professional football, choosing a military career instead (he was selected third overall in the 1946 NFL Draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers). He served as a fighter pilot and garnered a commendation for bravery in 1959 after preventing his faltering plane from crashing into a village. He later flew 113 missions during the Vietnam War and retired from the Air Force in 1971 as a colonel. After retiring from the Air Force, he spent several more years as the commandant of cadets at the New Mexico Military Institute, a junior college that prepares students to enter the service academies.
In 1990, Blanchard donated his Heisman trophy to Saint Stanislaus. The trophy stands on display in the school resource center. As far as we know, the Heisman that Blanchard donated is the only one of two currently on display at any high school in the country. Blanchard’s Army teammate, Glenn Davis, donated his 1946 Heisman to his alma mater, Bonita High in La Verne, California, in the late 1990s.
He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1959. Blanchard died of pneumonia on April 19, 2009, in Bulverde, Texas.