Felix "Doc" Blanchard was a college football superhero, the powerful Mr. Inside to Glenn Davis' Mr. Outside in Army's famous Heisman Trophy winning backfield of the 1940s.
Blanchard, who won Heisman in 1945 and along with Davis led Army to three consecutive undefeated seasons, died Sunday of pneumonia at home in central Texas. He was 84.
His daughter, Mary Blanchard, said her father had been living with her and husband for about the last 20 years and he had been in good health until recently coming down with pneumonia.
Blanchard scored 38 touchdowns and gained 1,908 yards in his three seasons playing at West Point.
In 1944, after Blanchard had helped Army beat Notre Dame 32-13 in Baltimore, Fight Irish coach Ed McKeever was quoted as saying, "I've just seen Superman in the flesh. He wears No. 35 and goes by the name of Blanchard."
Army already had scheduled to hold Doc Blanchard Day and retire No. 35 on Oct. 10, when the Cadets host Vanderbilt.
The school announced Monday the ceremony will go on, and Blanchard will become the fourth Army player to have his uniform number retired by the Army Athletic Association. He will join Davis (41), Heisman Trophy winner Pete Dawkins (24), and Joe Steffy (61), a star lineman who blocked for Davis and Blanchard.
Steffy said Monday he spoke on the phone nearly every day for years with either Blanchard or Blanchard's daughter.
"I'm very sad," Steffy said. "I enjoyed arguing with him, and he and I had a lot of arguments. That was the fun part. You've got to have some guy you can argue with."
Blanchard, who also played linebacker and handled place-kicking and punting duties, capped his Heisman Trophy season by scoring three touchdowns in a 32-13 victory against Navy. He also became the first football player to win the Sullivan Award, given to the nation's top amateur athlete.
"His best play was right up the middle," Steffy said. "He made so many of them, but I think what sticks out in my memory is he played both ways. He was a linebacker, and we discussed in later years, if he had gone in the pros and if they had two-platoon football, where would he have played? And we all agreed he would have played linebacker. He was a great linebacker, and he was a great offensive fullback, too."
The year after Blanchard became the first junior to win the Heisman Trophy, Davis won it. Army went 27-0-1 from 1944-46, winning national titles in '44 and '45.
In 1944, after a famous season-ending win over Navy, Gen. Douglas MacArthur even took time out from his war duties to send this wire: "The greatest of all Army teams ... We have stopped the war to celebrate your magnificent success. MacArthur."
In November 1945, Davis and Blanchard shared the cover of Time magazine.
Davis died in 2005 at the age of 80.
Blanchard was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers with the third overall pick, but he never played professional football.
He ended up serving a long career as a fighter pilot in the Air Force, flying in the Korean and Vietnam wars retiring with the rank of Colonel.
He was inducted into the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame in 1959.
Blanchard, the son of a doctor, was born in Bishopville, S.C.
He led St. Stanislaus School in Bay Saint Louis, Miss., to an undefeated season during his senior year in 1941 and was recruited by Army and Notre Dame, among others.
"They had contacted me about going to West Point when I was in high school," Blanchard told the AP in 1995. "At that point in time, I really wasn't interested. Academically, I never was too hot, so I never had any idea I would pass the entrance examination and go to West Point."
After completing his freshman year at the University of North Carolina, he tried to enlist in the Navy's V-12 program, which allowed students to complete their education in return for a service commitment. He was rejected because he was considered overweight and had a vision problem.
Blanchard decided to enlist in the Army, but his father secured an appointment to West Point, and he enrolled in July 1944.
Hall of Fame Army coach Earl "Red" Blaik united Blanchard and Davis in the backfield, and they were dynamic from the start, leading Army to a 9-0 record and its first national championship.