Top 10 Army Football Players of All Time
There was a time in college football history when the most dominant program in the country resided in West Point, New York — home of the Army football program.
Army won three consecutive national championships from 1944 to 1946 and produced three Heisman Trophy winners from 1945 to 1958 — just one Heisman Trophy behind the nation's current dynasty college football program at the University of Alabama.
Army's football program is about much more than those long-ago championships, with a history of great players and patriots that can only be matched by its fellow Commander-in-Chief's Trophy pursuers at the Naval Academy and Air Force Academy.
These are the 10 greatest Army football players of all time.
10. Bob Mischak
Born: Oct. 25, 1932 (Newark, New Jersey)
Died: June 26, 2014, 81 years old (Orinda, California)
High School: Union High School (Union Township, New Jersey)
Position: Offensive Line/Defensive Line
Career highlights: Two-time All-AFL Team (1960, 1961), two-time AFL All-Star (1961, 1962)
Bottom line: Bob Mischak is responsible for perhaps the single-greatest play in Army history — made during his senior year at Army under the watchful eye of assistant coach Vince Lombardi. Leading Duke 14-13 in a game in October 1953 at Polo Grounds in New York City, Mischak chased down Duke running back Red Smith on a double reverse that would have been a 73-yard touchdown run … instead dragging Smith down at the 1-yard line.
Army's defense held at the goal line, and it saved the win, which was famously chronicled in Lombardi's biography, "When Pride Still Mattered," by David Maraniss. Mischak went on to play seven seasons in the NFL and AFL, where he was a two-time All-AFL pick.
After his playing career was over, Mischak won three Super Bowls as a tight ends coach for the Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders. He died in 2014 at 81 years old.
9. Christian 'Red' Cagle
Born: May 1, 1905 (Merryville, Louisiana)
Died: Dec. 26, 1942, 37 years old (New York, New York)
High School: Merryville High School (Merryville, Louisiana)
Career highlights: Three-time AP All-American (1927-29)
Bottom line: Christian 'Red' Cagle — also known as "The Red Thunderbolt of West Point" — had one of the more interesting college careers we've ever come across.
That's because Cagle played eight years of college football. First, he was a three-sport star at the University of Louisiana in football, basketball and track and field from 1922 to 1925 before playing four years at Army, where he was a three-time All-American who was so good he was featured on the cover of Time Magazine as a senior.
Cagle's time at Army ended in scandal — he was forced to resign from West Point after it was discovered he married in secret in 1928. He was a star player for the NFL's New York Giants, briefly owned the NFL's Brooklyn Dodgers in the mid-1930s and also founded the New York Touchdown Club.
Cagle died under mysterious circumstances in 1942, at just 37 years old, when he was found unconscious and with a fractured skull at the bottom of the stairs of a Manhattan subway staircase.
8. Josh McNary
Born: April 10, 1988 (Houston, Texas)
High School: Clear Lake High School (Houston, Texas)
Career highlights: Armed Forces Bowl champion (2010), Burlsworth Trophy finalist (2010), Lott IMPACT Trophy semifinalist (2010), East-West Shrine Game Pat Tillman Award (2011)
Bottom line: Josh McNary went from an undersized, dominant defensive lineman at Clear Lake High in Houston, Texas, to an undersized, dominant defensive lineman at Army. At just 6-foot and 251 pounds, McNary finished his career at Army as the program's career sacks leader and career tackles for loss leader along with records for most sacks in single game and most sacks in a single season — a record that stood until defensive end Andre Carter II broke it in 2021.
After going undrafted in 2011, McNary served two years of active service duty before signing as an undrafted free agent with the Indianapolis Colts in 2013 and playing in the NFL for four seasons.
7. Andre Carter II
Born: June 2, 2000 (Missouri City, Texas)
High School: Cheshire Academy (Cheshire, Connecticut)
Position: Defensive End
Career highlights: AP All-American (2021)
Bottom line: We can just believe what our eyes tell us when it comes to Andre Carter II — the only current Army player to make the list. Carter, 6-foot-7 and 260 pounds, was second in the nation with 15.5 sacks, 18.5 tackles for loss and four forced fumbles as a junior in 2021 and became Army's first AP All-American since 1990.
Carter only had 3.0 sacks in 2022 headed into the annual Army-Navy game after missing three games with a concussion and facing constant double teams or teams just going entirely away from him. What we're curious about is Carter's future because he seems like he could be a first-round pick in the NFL Draft.
6. Joe Steffy
Born: April 3, 1926 (Chattanooga, Tennessee)
Died: May 22, 2011, 85 years old (Newburgh, New York)
High School: Baylor School (Chattanooga, Tennessee)
Position: Offensive Line
Career highlights: Two-time National Champion (1945, 1946), Outland Trophy (1947)
Bottom line: Joe Steffy was a five-sport star at the famed Baylor School in Chattanooga, Tennessee, before playing one year at the University of Tennessee in 1944, where he lettered on a team that went unbeaten during the regular season and played in the Rose Bowl.
Steffy received an appointment to West Point as a sophomore, where he played on back-to-back national championship teams in 1945 and 1946, blocking for Heisman Trophy winners Glenn Davis and Doc Blanchard. As a team captain in 1947, Steffy won the Outland Trophy as the nation's top interior lineman.
Steffy fought in the Korean War, where he was awarded a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart. Steffy died in 2011 at 85 years old.
5. Tex Coulter
Born: Oct. 26, 1924 (Fort Worth, Texas)
Died: Oct. 2, 2007, 82 years old (Austin, Texas)
High School: Masonic Home High School (Fort Worth, Texas)
Position: Offensive Line/End
Career highlights: National Champion (1945), AP All-American (1945), Tto-time Pro Bowl (1948, 1949), two-time NFL All-Pro (1948, 1949), CFL Most Outstanding Lineman Award (1955), three-time CFL All-Star (1953-55)
Bottom line: Tex Coulter was a high school football star in Texas and a two-time state champion in the shot put, including when he set a national high school record with a throw of 59 feet, 1 inch as a senior.
Coulter earned All-American honors on Army's national championship team in 1945, blocking for Heisman Trophy winner Doc Blanchard at running back while also throwing the shot put.
Coulter played 11 seasons in the NFL and CFL, earning NFL All-Pro honors with the New York Giants and All-CFL honors with the Montreal Alouettes. Coulter died in 2007 at 82 years old.
4. Pete Dawkins
Born: March 8, 1938 (Royal Oak, Michigan)
High School: Cranbrook School (Bloomfield Hills, Michigan)
Career highlights: Heisman Trophy (1958), Maxwell Award (1958), AP All-American (1958)
Bottom line: Pete Dawkins beat polio as a child in the late 1940s before becoming a football and baseball star at Cranbrook School — made infamous by the 2002 movie "8 Mile" — before picking Army over Yale for college.
Cadets at Army are considered to be "outstanding" if they become First Captain, president of their class, captain of the football team or rank in the top 5 percent of their class academically — Dawkins did all four and won the Heisman Trophy as a senior in 1958.
He wasn't done there. Hawkins was named a Rhodes Scholar and earned master's degrees from both Oxford and Princeton while also receiving a Bronze Star for valor in service during the Vietnam War, where he commanded both the 7th Infantry Division and the 101st Airborne Unit. Dawkins retired with the rank of brigadier general in 1983 and went to work on Wall Street.
3. Alejandro Villanueva
Born: Sept. 22, 1988 (Meridian, Mississippi)
High School: SHAPE High School (Casteau, Belgium)
Position: Offensive Line/Wide Receiver
Career highlights: Two-time Pro Bowl (2017. 2018)
Bottom line: Along with Army's trio of Heisman Trophy winners, Alejandro Villanueva is likely the most well-known player to ever come out of West Point.
Villanueva, 6-foot-9 and 290 pounds, played defensive line, offensive tackle and wide receiver for Army before joining the Army Rangers and serving three tours of duty in Afghanistan, where he earned the Bronze Star for his service.
After failing to make several NFL teams as a tight end and defensive end, the Pittsburgh Steelers converted him to an offensive tackle, and Villanueva played eight seasons, making two Pro Bowls appearances.
2. Felix 'Doc' Blanchard
Born: Dec. 11, 1924 (McColl, South Carolina)
Died: April 19, 2009, 84 years old (Bulverde, Texas)
High School: Saint Stanislaus College (Bay St. Louis, Mississippi)
Career highlights: Heisman Trophy (1945), Maxwell Award (1945), three-time National Champion (1944-46), Sporting News Player of the Year (1945), Sullivan Award (1945), three-time AP All-American (1944-46)
Bottom line: Doc Blanchard and Glenn Davis teamed up to form one of the greatest backfields in college football history while at Army, winning three consecutive national championships and going 27-0-1 from 1944 to 1946. That was a stretch in which both Blanchard and Davis each won the Heisman Trophy — Blanchard in 1945 and Davis in 1946 — and both were named three-time AP All-Americans.
Blanchard was drafted No. 3 overall by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1947 NFL Draft but chose to pursue a career in the military, where he was an Air Force pilot until his retirement in 1971 and flew 113 missions during the Vietnam War.
Blanchard died in 2009 at 84 years old.
1. Glenn Davis
Born: Dec. 26, 1924 (Claremeont, California)
Died: March 9, 2005, 80 years old (La Quinta, California)
High School: Bonita High School (La Verne, California)
Career highlights: Heisman Trophy (1946), three-time National Champion (1944-46), Sporting News Player of the Year (1946), AP Athlete of the Year (1946), Maxwell Award (1944), three-time AP All-American (1944-46), Pro Bowl (1950)
Bottom line: Glenn Davis originally planned to attend USC after leading Bonita (Calif.) High to an 11-0 record and Southern Section championship as a senior, but an appointment to Army changed his plans.
Davis was a four-sport star at Army in football, basketball, baseball, and track and field but made his legend on the gridiron. Over his final three seasons, Army went 27-0-1 and won three consecutive national championships. Davis was a two-time Heisman Trophy runner-up in 1944 and 1945, to fellow running back Doc Blanchard, before winning the Heisman as a senior in 1946.
Davis served four years of active service duty in the Army before playing two seasons in the NFL for the Los Angeles Rams, where he earned a Pro Bowl nod in 1950. Davis went to work for The Los Angeles Times as a special events coordinator following his playing career. In his honor, the Glenn Davis Award is given annually to the best high school football player in Southern California.