Standing six feet tall and weighing more than two hundred pounds, Blanchard distinguished himself as a fullback on the West Point football teams from 1944 to 1946. He received the Heisman Trophy as the nation’s top collegiate player in 1945, the first junior to gain that recognition, and was named to the All-America teams in 1944, 1945, and 1946.
Football player, Heisman Trophy recipient. “Doc” Blanchard was born in McColl on December 11, 1924, the son of Felix Blanchard and Mary Tatum. When Blanchard was eight years old, his family moved to Bishopville in Lee County. As the son of a physician, townspeople called Blanchard “Little Doc,” attaching a nickname that followed him for a lifetime.
Blanchard started playing football as a junior high student in Bishopville, then attended St. Stanislaus Prep School in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, where he excelled in football. In 1942 he enrolled at the University of North Carolina, where he starred on the school’s freshmen football team. On being drafted the following year, he was inducted at Fort Jackson, and he was later accepted for officer candidates school. In 1944 he was appointed to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York.
Standing six feet tall and weighing more than two hundred pounds, Blanchard distinguished himself as a fullback on the West Point football teams from 1944 to 1946. He received the Heisman Trophy as the nation’s top collegiate player in 1945, the first junior to gain that recognition, and was named to the All-America teams in 1944, 1945, and 1946. Blanchard also was recipient of the Maxwell Award in 1945 as the nation’s top football player and became the first football player to receive the Sullivan Award as the country’s most outstanding amateur athlete. Army compiled a 27–0–1 record during his three years with the team, which included two national championships.
At West Point, Blanchard teamed with the halfback Glenn Davis in a devastating offense, in which Blanchard was known as “Mr. Inside” and Davis as “Mr. Outside.” Davis was runner-up to Blanchard in the 1945 Heisman voting and won the Heisman Trophy in 1946. Typical of reaction to Blanchard’s prowess was a comment by Notre Dame coach Ed McKeever following Army’s 59–0 rout of the Fighting Irish in 1944. “I have just seen Superman in the flesh,” said McKeever. “He wears number 35 and goes by the name of Blanchard.” During his career at West Point, Blanchard compiled 1,908 total yards and scored thirty-eight touchdowns. A linebacker on defense, he also punted and returned kickoffs. On the Army track team, he ran the 100-yard dash in ten seconds and heaved the shot put 54 feet.
Following graduation, Blanchard made the U.S. Air Force his career, flying missions as a fighter pilot in both the Korean and Vietnam Wars. On October 12, 1948, he married Jody King of San Antonio, Texas, who died in 1994. Their marriage produced three children. Blanchard retired with the rank of colonel in 1971 and made his home in San Antonio, Texas.
Blanchard was inducted into the National Football Foundation’s College Football Hall of Fame in 1959. The Interstate 20 / U.S. Highway 15 interchange nearby has been named in his honor. A quiet, unassuming individual, Blanchard made little of his athletic accomplishments. He donated his Heisman Trophy to St. Stanislaus Prep School for display, commenting, “I really don’t miss seeing it around.”
Fimrite, Ron. “Mr. Inside & Mr. Outside.” Sports Illustrated 69 (November 21, 1988): 76–92.
Newhouse, Dave. Heismen: After the Glory. St. Louis, Mo.: Sporting News, 1985.
Spear, Bob. “Bishopville’s Favorite Son.” Columbia State, October 18, 2002, pp. C1, C4.