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The Greatest All-American Team Ever?

Doak Walker following the 1948 game against UT

By Ryan Sprayberry

99 years ago arguably the greatest single All-American team ever assembled was announced. The 1947 group looked like this:

Position

Name

School

End

Paul Cleary

USC

End

Bill Swiacki

Columbia

Tackle

George Connor

Notre Dame

Tackle

Bob Davis

Georgia Tech

Guard

Joe Steffy

Army

Guard

Bill Fischer

Notre Dame

Center

Chuck Bednarik

Penn

Back

Johnny Lujack

Notre Dame

Back

Bob Chappius

Michigan

Back

Charley Conerly

Mississippi

Back

Bobby Layne

Texas

Back

Doak Walker

SMU

 

The first question you will probably ask is, “Why are there 12 players – shouldn’t a team only have 11?” The answer to that: the 1947 team was simply that good. When Charley Conerly and Bobby Layne tied in voting, the committee eased the regulations so both could be included. An unusual number for sure, but it does help designate the group, called by some “The Magnificent 12.”

Bobby Layne at the University of Texas

The group was made even more memorable, as every member of the ’47 All-American team played another member of the team, with the only exceptions being Davis and Conerly.

What many considered the “crown jewel” of those matchups was high school teammates, Bobby Layne and Doak Walker’s meeting late in the season. Layne’s Longhorns and Walker’s Mustangs were both still unbeaten and vying for the Southwest Conference title.

The two made good on the hype, as Walker led SMU to its first score and then made a spectacular 64-yard catch to set up the second Pony TD. Layne, for his part, led the ‘Horns to one touchdown and then passed for a 15-yard score to give UT a chance to tie the game. However, the Texas kicker missed the extra point and SMU held on to win 14-13.

“The Magnificent 12” became the first All-American team to have all of its members enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame. While some of the players from ’47 no longer carry the name recognition they once did, there’s no doubt the Highland Park teammates still resonate today in Texas. Layne and Walker remain legends of the Lone Star State and many of their accomplishments can be relived here at the Texas Sports Hall of Fame.

We hope you come visit!

Ryan Sprayberry is the Director of Content and Community Engagement at the Texas Sports Hall of Fame

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