100 Days of MSU Football - Day 44
In 1944, Mississippi State tailback Thomas "Shorty" McWilliams finished 10th in the Heisman voting... as a Freshman. McWilliams, given his nickname as an irony to his stature as a running back (he was 6'3"), played his Freshman campaign at Mississippi State in 1944 before leaving to enlist in the Army. McWilliams played one season for the Army while enlisted, playing for the 1945 National Championship squad that included fellow backfield mates Felix "Doc" Blanchard and Glenn Davis. Blanchard won the Heisman Trophy in '45, while Davis finished second.
After the war was over, Shorty McWilliams applied for resignation to the Army so that he may return to Mississippi State to play football and finish his education. McWilliams, a Meridian, Mississippi native, was initially denied his request by Major General Maxwell Taylor, Superintendent at West Point at the time. Taylor alleged that McWilliams was receiving "a particularly lucrative financial offer from a certain quarter to leave West Point," an obvious shot at Mississippi State. Coach Allyn McKeen, the famed MSU head coach, immediately challaneged this allegation made by the Major General, and he was backed by school officials as well.
Shortly thereafter, Shorty was allowed to return to Mississippi State, where he played 3 more seasons ('46-'48), leading the team in rushing all three seasons and passing in '47 and '48. He truly was one of the greatest to ever wear the maroon and white.
Shorty also led the team in punting and punt return yardage in '47 and '48. Take a look at the new MSU Media Guide, pages 128-132, to really gauge the type of impact he made on the MSU team while he was at State.