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Glenn Davis:
"The Real Touchdown Twin"

by David Pietrusza
Despite being dubbed the "Touchdown Twins," Army's Glenn Davis and Doc Blanchard were
not identical physical specimens.
Doc Blanchard, at 6'0" and 205 pounds, was by far the bigger
of the two football legends. The 5'9", 170 pound Davis, however, may have been the better
natural athlete.

At the Point Davis lettered not only in football but in baseball, basketball and track. And he did
not just letter. On the diamond the center fielder's arm was described as "whiplike," and he was
good enough to earn Branch Rickey's comment that he could fetch a $75,000 bonus. Coming
from a man with a reputation for tossing dollars around like man-hole covers, that was high praise
indeed.

Even in his full football uniform Glenn Davis could flat out run, covering 100 yards in less than ten
seconds Perhaps most impressive though was his performance on the "Master of the Sword" test
the Military Academy devised to test the athletic prowess of future officers. Out of a possible
1,000 points on such diverse events as a 300-yard-run, dodge run, vertical jump, parallel bar
dips, softball throw, sit-ups, chin-ups, and the standing broad jump, the average cadet scored
540. Davis posted a 926.5 mark--the all-time record.

While Davis was not, however, Doc Blanchard's physical twin, he was his brother Ralph's twin.
Ralph was named for their father, a southern California bank manager, but it was Glenn who was
always known as "Junior." Why? He was born ninety minutes after his "older" brother.

The Davis twins were nearly inseparable. They double-dated together, played harmless juvenile
pranks together, and planned on attending USC together. But instead Congressman Jerry
Voorhis (later defeated for re-election by a young war veteran named Richard Nixon) offered
Glenn a berth at West Point. Glenn said yes but only if brother Ralph could come along.

No problem, said the Army, bring him along.

Glenn Davis had already distinguished himself as an athlete, being a four-letter man in high school
and winning the Knute Rockne trophy as Southern California's outstanding schoolboy track star.
In football he scored 263 points his senior year.

Davis debuted for Army during the 1943 season, running for eight TDs and passed for four more.
West Point, which recently had been a football laughingstock, finished with a respectable 7-2-1
mark. It was a decent start for both Davis and his team, but it hardly gave any hint of the true
greatness to come.

Football, however, was not the only thing on Davis' mind in 1943--or maybe it was. Even though
he rose at four each morning to cram in his studies, he still failed math and was in the parlance of
the Academy "found" deficient. That meant he was kindly asked to leave the Academy that
December to study even harder for re-admission.

Davis succeeded, returning to West Point the next fall but having to repeat his plebe year. That
had its benefits. During World War II West Point was graduating classes in three years rather
than four. Davis’s lack of numerical expertise gave him another year on the gridiron--and
ultimately the Heisman Trophy.

In 1944 Davis came into his own, leading the nation with an average of 11.5 yards per carry and
in total scoring with 120 total points. Blanchard and Davis, "Mr. Inside and Mr. Outside," paced
Army to an undefeated and untied season--it's first since 1916. The Black Knights scored a
fearsome 504 points, 56 per game, second only to 1904 Michigan's 58.9. Army rightfully earned
the Lambert Trophy, the Williams Trophy, and the Williamson Plaque.

Davis secured the Maxwell Trophy, the Walter Camp Trophy, and the Helm Foundation Award,
but finished second to Ohio State's Les Horvath for the Heisman.

Speed was his forte, but it was hardly the only weapon in his arsenal. "He also possessed," Bob
Carroll, the founder of the Professional Football Researcher's Association (PFRA), noted, "a
devastating change of pace, a powerful leg drive, and a strong stiff arm."

Despite his natural ability the grind occasionally wore on Davis. Football required an hour and a
half of grueling practice each day--in addition to the three hours of physical education required
weekly of each cadet. And, of course, there was the obligation of academics and the specter of
another failed math course. "I never used to think about taking a daytime nap," Davis admitted,
"Now I get sleepy every time I see a sofa."

Army went on to another perfect season in 1945 and at Yankee Stadium defeated Navy for the
national championship. Davis's 49-yard touchdown helped.

For the year Davis scored 108 points and led the nation with 11.5 yards per carry. Such a
performance inspired the great Grantland Rice to write in November 1945: "Davis is not only one
of the fastest backs that ever lugged a football on any field at any time, but he is also a strong
running back who isn't easy to bring down."

And those who actually had to face him were even more impressed. "Every time Davis touched
the ball," said Columbia's Gene Rossides, "it would be like an electric current going through the
defending team."

Yet, it was Doc Blanchard, who led the nation in total scoring and captured the 1945 Heisman.
Still when Blanchard accepted his trophy in January 1946, he told the audience: "I'd have voted
for Glenn Davis."

All eyes were on Army's squad as it began its 1946 season. Both Blanchard and Davis returned
for another season. Their teammates elected the "Touchdown Twins" as the first co-captains in
Army football history, and they graced the cover of
Life magazine.

That was the good news. Just about every other indicator was bad. First and foremost, the
nation's civilian schools now benefited from demobilization. West Point and Annapolis would no
longer have their pick of athletic talent. The competition was getting equalized.

Secondly, after the some acrimonious public wrangling team lost one of its stars, Thomas "Shorty"
McWilliams, who was allowed to resign from the Academy.

And against Villanova in the season's first game, Doc Blanchard hurt his knee and was never
again at peak form. Davis had to pick up the slack. Perhaps his greatest moment came against
Michigan when he rushed for 105 yards and caught seven passes for an additional 159 yards.
Beyond that, he intercepted two passes and even threw a pass for a another touchdown.

Legendary Army coach Earl "Red" Blaik praised him as "the best player I have seen, anywhere,
any time."

Despite increased competition and Blanchard's ills, 1946 Army squad still remained undefeated;
the only blot on its record being a scoreless tie against Notre Dame, which dethroned the Black
Knights as national champions.

Red Blaik had no apologies and ranked his 1946 Black Knights as superior than either the 1944
or the 1945 teams. "I reserve the warmest affection and the greatest respect for the 1946 team,"
he once wrote, " which, in the face of adversities, playing the best of college opposition,
completely and thoroughly demonstrated its right to be classed as great." Much as Davis had
placed second in 1944 and 1945 for the Heisman, Blaik had come in second for Coach of the
Year honors both seasons. In 1946 he captured the award.

And Glenn Davis finally won his Heisman. The glory was now his. Also bestowed on him were
the Maxwell Trophy, the Walter Camp Trophy, and the Associated Press designation of Male
Athlete of the Year. He might have also garnered the Sullivan Trophy--but in an administrative
snafu his name had been left off the ballot

The Heisman vote:
Player                           School          Total
1 Glenn Davis                Army             792
2 Charles Trippi             Georgia          435
3 Johnny Lujack             Notre Dame   379
4 Doc Blanchard            Army             267
5 Arnold Tucker            Army             257
6 Herman Wedemeyer   St. Mary's      101
7 Burr Baldwin              UCLA              49
8 Bobby Layne              Texas              45

By the time Davis had hung up his Army spikes he has posted some prodigious numbers:

              RUSHING            PASS RECEIVING       SCORE
YEAR        ATT   YDS     AVG     NO     YDS   AVG    TD     TOTAL
1943          95       634       6.7       7          68      9.7       1        48
1944          58       667    *11.5      13       221     17.0      4      *120
1945          82       944    *11.5       5       213     42.6       0       108
1946         123       712       5.8     20       348     17.4       5        78
            
Totals       358      2957       8.3     45       850    18.9      10       354
* - Led the nation


In his 38 games for Army Davis had scored 59 touchdowns. Twenty-seven were over 37 yards,
with his longest being 87.

The NFL's Detroit Lions drafted Davis, and both he and Blanchard had wanted to pursue pro
football careers after graduating. But the Secretary of the Army refused to allow such activity,
and the only football action the duo saw in 1947 was on the set of a low-budget film called
The
Spirit of West Point
. The picture was hardly memorable, but it had its place in football history.
During filming, Davis tore cartilage and ligaments in his right knee. They never healed properly.

Red Blaik had once commented about Davis that he was "as bashful as a girl on her first date,
even though he is an All-America." That may have been true, but it did not stop the very eligible
bachelor from being seen with a number of Hollywood's most attractive young starlets. Still in the
Army, he dated Ann Blyth and after meeting Elizabeth Taylor at a touch football game on the
beach (where else?), they became an item. Just before Davis shipped off for Korea, the couple
became engaged ("When I saw that frank, wonderful face, I thought, 'This is the boy'"), but
Taylor proved less reliable than Doc Blanchard and the engagement was off. He was later
married briefly to actress Terry Moore before marrying the beautiful Ellen Harriet Lancaster
Slack.

After completing his obligatory three-year Army hitch, Davis returned to football, signing with the
Los Angeles Rams in 1950 and powering them to 9-3-0 record, good enough for a tie with
George Halas's Chicago Bears. They defeated the Bears 24-14 but fell to the Browns in that
year's Championship Game 30-28.

Davis had lead the Rams in rushing, scoring seven touchdowns, but thought the injury he had
suffered during
The Spirit of West Point's filming and the four-year layoff had taken their toll on
his skills. "I was as good a player as a senior in high school," he once modestly said, "as I was
with the Rams." After just one more season in the NFL he called it quits.

For three decades he worked as special events director for the
Los Angeles Times, earning the
respect of those around him. "West Point," said one sports writer a half-century ago, "might make
an officer out of Glenn Davis, but he's already a gentleman."