Billy Vessels

Last updated

Billy Vessels
Billy Vessels.jpg
Born:(1931-03-22)March 22, 1931
Cleveland, Oklahoma
Died:November 17, 2001(2001-11-17) (aged 70)
Coral Gables, Florida
Career information
Position(s) Halfback
College Oklahoma
NFL draft 1953 / Round: 1 / Pick: 2
Drafted by Baltimore Colts
Career history
As player
1953 Edmonton Eskimos
1954 Kitchener-Waterloo Dutchmen
1956 Baltimore Colts
Career highlights and awards
Awards Heisman Trophy (1952)
CFL's Most Outstanding Player Award (1953)
Eddie James Memorial Trophy (1953)
Consensus All-American (1952)
Career stats

Billy Dale Vessels (March 22, 1931 – November 17, 2001) was a gridiron football player. He played college football at the University of Oklahoma and won the Heisman Trophy in 1952. Vessels went on to play professional football with the National Football League's Baltimore Colts and the Western Interprovincial Football Union's Edmonton Eskimos.

Contents

College football career

Vessels led the Oklahoma Sooners to the national championship in 1950, scoring 15 touchdowns. In 1952, he won the Heisman Trophy. Playing under the legendary Bud Wilkinson, he became the first of seven Sooners, followed by Steve Owens (1969), Billy Sims (1978), Jason White (2003), Sam Bradford (2008), Baker Mayfield (2017), and Kyler Murray (2018) to win the award. During the 1952 season he rushed for 1,072 yards including seven 100 yard performances, and 17 touchdowns. These achievements led to his induction into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1974.

He was also a member of the Sigma Nu fraternity at the University of Oklahoma, along with being a member of the Army Reserve Officers' Training Corps. [1]

Professional football career

Vessels was the first pick of the Baltimore Colts in the first round of the 1953 NFL Draft, but did not join the Colts following the draft, electing instead to play with the Edmonton Eskimos of the then Western Interprovincial Football Union. During his rookie season in 1953, Vessels led the WIFU, the forerunner of the CFL Western Conference (later changed to Division) in rushing with 926 yards on 129 carries and with eight rushing touchdowns. He caught 20 passes for 310 yards and with one touchdown. Vessels also passed 393 yards on 30 attempts with 18 completions and 4 touchdown passes to having thrown only one interception and while on defence he snagged four interceptions.

Vessels became the first player to win the Schenley Award as the Canadian Rugby-Football Union's (CRU) Most Outstanding Player (the CFL did not come into existence until 1958). Vessels played only the one season in Canada. Vessels played one game with the Kitchener-Waterloo Dutchmen of the ORFU who were acting as a farm team for Edmonton in 1954 - this was to try and qualify Vessels as a non-import under the rules at that time. [2] In 1956, he joined the NFL's Baltimore Colts, the team that had drafted him three years prior. That season, his only for the Colts, he had 11 receptions for 177 yards and a touchdown plus returned 16 kickoffs for 379 yards. Unfortunately, Vessels' professional career in the NFL was cut short by a leg injury.

Later life

Billy Vessels statue in Heisman Park at Memorial Stadium Norman, OK Billy Vessels statue in Heisman Park at Memorial Stadium Norman, Oklahoma.jpg
Billy Vessels statue in Heisman Park at Memorial Stadium Norman, OK

After his football career, Vessels was employed for many years by The Mackle Company, one of Florida's leading developers. In the 1970s, he became involved in horse breeding and served on the Florida Pari-Mutuel Commission from 1976 to 1983, becoming its executive director. He was elected president of the National Association of State Racing Commissions in 1984 and served as director of the Florida division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering from 1987 to 1989.

Honors

In September 2003, Cleveland, Oklahoma renamed its high school football stadium "Billy Vessels Memorial Stadium" in honor of Vessels. In 2007, the University of Oklahoma, through the state's Centennial Celebration, awarded the Vessels Heisman statue to Cleveland, Oklahoma, where it sits across from Cleveland High School in front of the school's gymnasium and event center. OU replaced its statue, and those of its other Heisman winners, the next spring.

Related Research Articles

Billy Sims American football player

Billy Ray Sims is a former American college and professional football player who was a running back in the National Football League (NFL) for five seasons during the 1980s. Sims played college football for the University of Oklahoma, where he was a two-time consensus All-American, and won the Heisman Trophy in 1978. He was the first overall pick in the 1980 NFL Draft, and played professionally for the NFL's Detroit Lions. Sims was the last Oklahoma player taken Number 1 overall in the NFL Draft until quarterback Sam Bradford was taken first in the 2010 NFL Draft. He was given the nickname "Kung Fu Billy Sims" by ESPN's Chris Berman, after a game where the Detroit Lions played the Houston Oilers. In the NFL Films highlight, rather than be tackled during a rushing attempt, Sims ran at, jumped, and, while fully airborne, kicked Oilers Cornerback Steve Brown in the head.

Tom Matte

Thomas Roland Matte, is a former American football player who played quarterback in college and primarily running back in the National Football League (NFL) in the 1960s and 1970s and earned a Super Bowl Ring. He attended Shaw High School in East Cleveland and is an Eagle Scout. Matte was an All-American back at Ohio State University.

Mike Pringle (gridiron football)

Michael A. Pringle is an American former professional football player. A running back, he had a successful career in the Canadian Football League (CFL), during which he set or tied almost every significant league records for the position. He played college football for the California State University, Fullerton Titans and was twice signed by National Football League (NFL) teams, though he never played a game in the NFL.

Reggie McNeal American football wide receiver and quarterback

Reginald Parrish McNeal is a former professional American football player. He played five seasons in the Canadian Football League. He played college football at Texas A&M University.

Loren Everett "Steve" Owens is a former American football player who played professionally as a running back in the National Football League (NFL) for five seasons in the early 1970s. Owens played college football for the University of Oklahoma, and was the 1969 Heisman Trophy winner and an All-American. He was selected in the first round of the 1970 NFL Draft by the Detroit Lions, 19th overall, and became the first Lion to rush for over a 1,000 yards in a season.

Troy Davis is a former American college and professional football player who was a running back in the National Football League (NFL) and Canadian Football League (CFL). He played college football for Iowa State University where he was a Heisman finalist. Davis twice earned All-American honors and was the first and one of only two NCAA Division I-A running backs to rush for over 2,000 yards in back-to-back seasons. In 2016, he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. He played professionally for the New Orleans Saints of the NFL, and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, Edmonton Eskimos and Toronto Argonauts of the CFL, and was a member of the Eskimos' Grey Cup championship team in 2005.

Troy Smith American football quarterback

Troy James Smith is a former American football quarterback. He played college football at Ohio State, was recognized as an All-American, and won the Heisman Trophy in 2006. He was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in the fifth round of the 2007 NFL Draft, and also played for the NFL's San Francisco 49ers, the UFL's Omaha Nighthawks, and the CFL's Montreal Alouettes. Despite winning the Heisman Trophy, Smith never found success on the professional level, never appearing in more than six games a season during his four-year NFL career. He played in the CFL for two seasons following his NFL career before retiring from football in 2014.

Terry Wayne Baker is a former American football and basketball player. He played college football and basketball at Oregon State University in Corvallis, where he was a member of Phi Delta Theta. Baker played as a quarterback for the football team from 1960 to 1962, winning the Heisman Trophy as senior. In the spring of his senior year, he led the basketball team to the Final Four of the NCAA tournament. To date, he is the only athlete to win a Heisman Trophy and play in the Final Four. Baker was the first overall pick in the 1963 NFL draft and played with the Los Angeles Rams of the National Football League (NFL) from 1963 to 1965. He then played for one season in the Canadian Football League (CFL) with the Edmonton Eskimos in 1967. Baker was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1982.

Jackie Parker

John Dickerson "Jackie" Parker was an American gridiron football player and coach. He was an All-American in college football and an outstanding professional football player in the Canadian Football League at the running back, quarterback, defensive back, and kicker positions. He is primarily known for his play with the Edmonton Eskimos. Later in his career, he played for the Toronto Argonauts and the BC Lions, and coached the Eskimos and Lions after his playing career ended.

Damien Ramone Anderson is a former American college and professional football player who was a running back in the National Football League (NFL) and Canadian Football League (CFL). He played college football for Northwestern University, and earned All-American honors. He signed as an undrafted free agent with the NFL's Arizona Cardinals, and later played for the CFL's Edmonton Eskimos.

Joe Dan Washington Jr is a former American football running back in the National Football League (NFL) for the San Diego Chargers, Baltimore Colts, Washington Redskins, and Atlanta Falcons.

"Indian" Jack Jacobs was an American and Canadian football player in the National Football League and Western Interprovincial Football Union. He was a charter member of the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 1963.

Johnny Bright Player of American and Canadian football

John Dee Bright was an American professional football player in the Canadian Football League. He played college football at Drake University. He is a member of the Canadian Football Hall of Fame, the National Football Foundation's College Football Hall of Fame, the Missouri Valley Conference Hall of Fame, the Edmonton Eskimos Wall of Honour, the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame, and the Des Moines Register's Iowa Sports Hall of Fame.

John Coleman Hufnagel is the president and general manager of the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League. He was previously the Stampeders' head coach and played quarterback for fifteen professional seasons in the CFL and National Football League. Prior to his hiring to the Stampeders on December 3, 2007, he was the offensive coordinator of the New York Giants of the NFL.

Pat Abbruzzi American football player

Pasquale "Pat" Abbruzzi was an American college and professional Canadian football running back and a successful high school football coach. Abbruzzi played collegiately for the University of Rhode Island, and professionally for the Canadian Football League Montreal Alouettes for four years (1955–1959).

Dan Edwards American football player

Daniel Moody Edwards was an American gridiron football player and coach. He played professional as an end in the All-America Football Conference (AAFC), the Canadian Football League (CFL), and the National Football League (NFL).

Jacoby Ford American football wide receiver

Jacoby Ford is a former American football wide receiver and return specialist. He was drafted by the Oakland Raiders in the fourth round of the 2010 NFL Draft. He was also an accomplished track and field athlete. He played college football as a wide receiver and return specialist for the Clemson Tigers at Clemson University, where he competed in sprinting events. During his stint in the NFL, Ford was widely regarded as one of the fastest players in the league. He has one of the top 100 meter times by NFL players.

Trent Richardson American football running back

Trenton Jamond Richardson is an American football running back for the Caudillos de Chihuahua of Fútbol Americano de México. He played college football for the University of Alabama, was recognized as an All-American, and was a member of two BCS National Championship teams. Considered the top running back prospect for the 2012 NFL Draft, Richardson was considered by some as the best running back prospect since Adrian Peterson, and was selected third overall by the Cleveland Browns. After being traded away from the Browns to the Indianapolis Colts during his second season, his production saw a massive decline. Having been out of the NFL after five seasons, he is sometimes considered one of the biggest draft busts in league history. He played for the Birmingham Iron of the Alliance of American Football in 2019 and led the league with 12 rushing touchdowns.

Jordan Lynch

Jordan Lynch is a former American football quarterback and running back. After playing college football at Northern Illinois, where he was a finalist for the Heisman Trophy in 2013, and going undrafted in the 2014 NFL Draft, Lynch had stints with the Chicago Bears of the National Football League and Edmonton Eskimos of the Canadian Football League.

Coleman "Buck" McPhail is a former American football fullback and placekicker in the National Football League. McPhail played college football at Oklahoma.

References

  1. Peterson, Robert (November 26, 1952). "Oklahoma's Billy Vessels '52 Heisman Trophy Winner As Outstanding Collegiate Football Player in Nation". Austin American-Statesman . Retrieved June 25, 2018. Lock-green.svg
  2. cflapedia - Billy Vessels