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Most recognized All-America football team has three Rams

By Staff | Dec 22, 2017

Back in 1889, before leather helmets and the forward pass came to college football, an All-America team was named by Walter Camp and two colleagues. Camp was the driving force behind the naming of All-America teams until his death in 1925.

Camp’s yearly selections were the recognized best-in-the-nation players.

When Camp died, the Associated Press wire service began naming its All-America selections. The AP used a panel of sportswriters to gather information on players and then declared the teams.

Only a few teams had the means to play for what amounted to a mythical national championship. The University of Chicago, Yale, Northwestern, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Tennessee, Great Lakes Naval Training, Fordham and Pennsylvania were usually among the schools vying for honors – and their players garnered individual acclaim.

By 1950, the Midwest had bona fide challengers, as did the Southwest. Chicago, Yale, Great Lakes Naval Training and Fordham had been surpassed or no longer even played football.

The 1946 All-America backfield, posted by the AP, featured Doc Blanchard of Army, Glenn Davis of Army, Johnny Lujack from Notre Dame and Charlie Trippi from Georgia. While in college, Blanchard, Davis and Lujack all won the Heisman Trophy. Trippi had a long career with the NFL’s Chicago Cardinals.

Lujack, Bobby Layne from Texas, Doak Walker from SMU and Michigan’s Bob Chappius were the AP’s backfield in 1947.

In 1950, the AP named Vic Janowicz of Ohio State, Babe Parilli from Kentucky, Leon Heath of Oklahoma and Kyle Rote from SMU as its All-America backfield. All of those players went on to the NFL and Janowicz even played a few seasons of Major League Baseball.

By 1958, the country was full of national championship contenders. The earlier powers from the 1920s through the early 1950s were no longer riding high on the collegiate scene.

Billy Cannon from LSU was a Heisman Trophy recipient, and halfback Pete Dawkins from Army gained that honor in 1958. Bob White of Ohio State and quarterback Randy Duncan from Iowa were the other two All-America selections in the AP balloting.

It’s been nearly 100 years since the first AP All-America team was named.

That wire service organization still has the most widely recognized All-America teams in any given year.

That’s why, when Shepherd’s Myles Humphrey (first-team defense), Lavonte Hights (first-team offensive line) and J.D. Cornish (first-team tight end) were placed on the 2017 Associated Press All-America team, it was a highly prized honor.

Having three players on an AP first-team is unusual, and has never happened at Shepherd. It hasn’t happened at many schools, in fact.

There have been other such All-America teams already named this season and there will be several others to follow in January.

But the most cherished All-America honor annually comes from the Associated Press, and Shepherd had three players named in the same season.