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Reflections by Sammy Way: Army's Blanchard was football's 'Mr. Inside'

By SAMMY WAY
Sumter Item archivist and historian
Posted 5/30/20

Reflections remembers one of the greatest football players produced by the state of South Carolina. Felix Anthony "Doc" Blanchard Jr. became a living legend at the U.S. Military Academy during the 1940s. He was commonly referred to as "Mr. Inside" …

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Reflections by Sammy Way: Army's Blanchard was football's 'Mr. Inside'

Posted

Reflections remembers one of the greatest football players produced by the state of South Carolina. Felix Anthony "Doc" Blanchard Jr. became a living legend at the U.S. Military Academy during the 1940s. He was commonly referred to as "Mr. Inside" and with his teammate Glen Davis, "Mr. Outside," formed a tandem that thrilled the fans who were able to watch them play. The following information and photos on Felix "Doc" Blanchard were obtained from The Sumter Item archives.

"Felix A. (Doc) Blanchard was born in McColl, S.C., and reared in nearby Bishopville. He attended Bishopville public schools, where he began his football-playing career. He later enrolled in St. Stanislaus, a respected prep school in Mississippi which his father had also attended. From St. Stanislaus he went to the University of North Carolina, where his mother's cousin was an assistant coach. He starred in freshman football but was drafted into the Army and was given the opportunity to enroll at West Point, where he played on the national championship teams in 1944 and 1945. While at the Academy, his teams never lost a football game."

Blanchard's mother, Mrs. Felix A. Blanchard Sr., lived in Sumter along with his sister, Dr. Mary E. Blanchard, who still resides here.

Blanchard experienced one of the most successful football careers of any player during his era. An article published in the Sumter Daily Item on Jan. 16, 1946, noted that "Felix (Doc) Blanchard, Army's great fullback and two-time All-American who has been showered with virtually every conceivable trophy for gridiron prowess, became the first football player to hold amateur sports' highest honor -the James E. Sullivan award. The Sullivan trophy is the 22nd award bestowed on Blanchard. He became the first-ever junior to win the Heisman Trophy, Maxwell Award and the James E. Sullivan Award, all in 1945. He was inducted into the National Football Hall of Fame and the South Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame.

Although Blanchard became famous because of his feats on the gridiron, the 200-pound athlete also is one of the ranking stars of the track and field world. He held the I.C. 4-A indoor and outdoor shot put championships, and he tossed the iron ball 51 feet, 10 inches to set an Army-Navy meet record. After a 25-year career in the Air Force, he retired in 1971 to Texas where he lived in San Antonio with his wife, Jody. He died on April 19, 2009, and is buried in Texas.