Dr. Max Biggs was born in Cleveland, Ohio, the son of a foreman in a rubber-company plant, and was an end at De Pauw in 1941. A basketball star, too, and on a scholarship, he was starting a career in medicine that was to lead him to research in radiation.
Dr. Loyal W. Combs (called Bill) was a 21-year-old senior at Purdue and the son of a small-town storekeeper from Lowell, Ind. He intended to become an engineer but became so wrapped up in biology courses that he chose medicine instead. He played end three years at Purdue and put in a season with the Philadelphia Eagles before settling down to his medical studies.
William Howard Crawford was born in Fort Worth, Texas and grew up in the home of Ed Carleton, father of the St. Louis Cardinal pitcher Tex Carleton. In 1941 he was a guard (a third-year veteran) on the Texas Christian team that beat Tulsa, Arkansas, Indiana, Baylor, Centenary, Texas and SMU, tied Rice, lost to Fordham and Texas A&M and met Georgia in the Orange Bowl.
William Herbert Geyer had an unusually tough beginning to overcome. When he was a fullback on a state high school championship team he was chosen the most popular person in Bloomfield, N.J. and given an all-expense tour of the U.S., including the Rose Bowl game. He kept his perspective in spite of this, got to Colgate on a scholarship, worked for his room and board and played three years under famed Coach Andy Kerr. In 1941 he set a college record of 966 yards for kicks returned that still stands.
Arthur Harrison, the son of a machinist, was born in East Walpole, Mass., went to Exeter Academy and played varsity football for three years at Tufts as a 5-foot-10�, 180-pound left halfback. A history major, he expected war to come soon and has only a vague memory of the game just before Pearl Harbor. "It was against Massachusetts State," he says. "I think we won it 14-7." They did.
Fred Harold Harrison played high school football in Lawrence, Mass., then went to Phillips Academy and, on a scholarship, to Yale, where he starred on the unfortunate 1941 Yale team that won only one game. But he remembers that one vividly. Yale gave Virginia, and Bill Dudley, its only defeat, 21-19.
James Oliver Jackson was born in Denison, Texas, the son of a railroad employee. In 1941 he was a 21-year-old single-wing tailback on the Abilene Christian College eleven. A track star, and eventually a celebrated track coach rather than a football star, he was a dependable performer on the team that came to the end of the season with six wins and two losses. The last game just before Pearl Harbor was an 18-14 win over St. Mary's University.
Fred Morgan Kirby was a 170-pound end playing his last game for Lafayette on the day before his 22nd birthday, when he caught a pass to set up a touchdown that helped beat Lehigh 47-7. Lafayette had an undistinguished season—four won and four lost up to that point—and, says Kirby, "it's always the thrill of the season when Lafayette beats Lehigh." A son of the celebrated financier Allan P. Kirby, he was born in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., played football at Hackley and, briefly, at Lawrenceville (he was injured in the first game). The high point of his three years with the Leopards of Lafayette was in 1940. Playing Army for the first time since 1893, the small Lafayette eleven was terrified when it went on the field, astonished when it began to score and then played good, hard football to win 19-0, as Army careened to the worst year in its history.
Captain Custer Krickenberger, age 20 in his senior year, was a 5-foot-8�, 170-pound guard on the 1941 Case Institute of Technology team. He and Case had a good season that year. The Roughriders won seven and lost only one, and Krickenberger scored two touchdowns, which he thought was pretty good for a guard, especially since one came after he made a wild tackle to stop a long run. The ball shot up in the air and Krickenberger caught it and got away in the other direction to the goal.
Noah Noel Langdale Jr. played his best game for Alabama against Tennessee in 1941, when Tennessee was finally beaten 9-2 after walloping Alabama three years in a row. A big, tenacious tackle with extraordinary stamina, Langdale was born in Valdosta, Ga., a brilliant student ( Phi Beta Kappa) and a stentorian orator. After one year on the Alabama varsity, he was out for a year with a leg injury so bad that he had to work at getting on and off chairs. He came back to play two more years and to get one of those watches awarded to everybody who played in the Cotton Bowl. Shortly before Pearl Harbor once-beaten Alabama met once-beaten Vanderbilt in a crucial game of nationwide interest. Langdale's opposite number in that game was Dan Walton, another award winner, and all afternoon they glared and collided until Vanderbilt won 7-0. "We've butted heads quite a bit," Judge Walton says, "but I've never met the man."