Princeton’s Greatest Players, 1931-1955

  • September 8, 2019

Princeton’s Greatest Players, 1931-1955, as selected by Staś Maliszewski ’66 and Eric Dreiband ’86.   Profiles compiled by Dreiband.

Backs

Dave Allerdice Jr. ’41

Dave Allerdice Jr. ’41

  • Princeton’s first aerial star.

“From 1938 to 1940, the Tiger grid fortunes dangled on the arm of Dave Allerdice, a gifted passer who was far ahead of his times,” wrote Jay Dunn in “The Tigers of Princeton”, published in 1977. “Allerdice was big, strong, and smart.”

His Princeton records for most yards gained passing per completion in a season (15.97) and per completion in a career (14.6) still hold, seven decades after he played. Allerdice’s school mark for the most yards gained per attempt in a season (8.79) lasted until broken in 2017 by Chad Kanoff. Allerdice’s Princeton record for total career passing yards stood until 1975.

He was 24-of-36 for 350 yards against Penn in 1940 – Princeton single game marks in completion and yardage that weren’t surpassed until 1972.

The New York Times called his arm “buggy-whipped” and wrote this following his Princeton finale.  “The greatest forward passer in Princeton history made his exit from intercollegiate football today with a display of aerial wizardry that whirled the Tigers to a spectacular 26-19 victory over Army before a gathering of 30,000.”  It was the third time Allerdice quarterbacked a win over the Cadets.

Following the 10-7 victory over Yale in 1940, the Daily Princetonian, wrote: Allerdice “did exactly what he has been doing all year. All those present saw the wonderful passing they expected and superlative defensive play and heady signal calling.”

  • Third-team All-America, 1940.
  • Honorable Mention All-East, 1938.
  • Participated in 1941 East-West Shrine Game.
  • Drafted by the New York Giants in 1941, but chose an Army career, serving as a pilot during both World War II and the Korean War.  Was a member of an Army All-Star team that played the Giants in 1942.
  • Son of Dave Allerdice, Sr., head coach, Texas, 1911-1915.
George Chandler ’51

George Chandler ’51

  • Captain of the 1950 team that won the national championship and Lambert Trophy (best team in the East).  
  • All-Ivy and All-East, 1950.

Three-year starter called “probably the finest blocking back in the East” and “an almost perfect single-wing quarterback” by the Daily Princetonian. “George combines experience with talent to produce what coaches like to call ‘class.”

W. Pepper Constable ’36

W. Pepper Constable ’36

Known as the Baltimore Bullet.  “A very great captain . . . fully equal as a field leader to the best in Princeton history,” wrote Donald G. Herring ’07 in Forty Years”.

  • Fourth in 1935 Heisman balloting.

“Pepper Constable’s plunging was irresistible, split the fighting Purple line asunder. He hits the line with the force of a rifle bullet and is like a frightened antelope in the open,” wrote A.G. Murray, Jr. ’35 in Going Back”, his review of the 1933 season. 

  • Scored two touchdowns against Yale, 1935.

Constable “plowed into the line like a runaway locomotive,” wrote Norman Macht in Football’s Last Iron Men”, an account of Yale’s 1934 upset of Princeton. “A perfectionist, he demanded more of himself than any human being could deliver.” 

  • Participant in 1935 East-West Shrine Game. 
  • Winner of the Pyne Prize, Princeton’s highest distinction for an undergraduate; 1936 class president and Phi Beta Kappa.
Jack Davison ’51

Jack Davison ’51

Described as a “line smasher,” Davison was the only sixty-minute performer on the 1950 team that won the national championship and Lambert Trophy.

“Jack plays like a demon for sixty minutes, improving each game at offensive fullback, and tackling like a savage on defense,” wrote the Daily Princetonian at the conclusion of the 1949 season. “He was one of the Tigers’ most able pass defenders also.”

  • Scored four touchdowns against Harvard in 1949.  
  • Second Team All-Ivy and East-West Shrine Game participant in 1950.
Royce N. Flippen, Jr. ’56

Royce N. Flippen, Jr. ’56

Yale killer ran or passed for 11 touchdowns against the Bulldogs during his career, including all three of Tigers’ 21-14 upset in 1954.

  • Scored 14 touchdowns (five passing) during 1953 and 1954 seasons.
  • All-East, 1954.
  • Captain, 1955.
  • Accounted for 1,103 yards as a sophomore in 1953.
  • Roper Trophy to Princeton’s best athlete, 1956.
John “Kats” Kadlic ’35

John “Kats” Kadlic ’35

  • Quarterback of national champions, 1933

“One of the finest passers ever seen in Palmer Stadium, as well as a brilliant defensive player,” wrote A.G. Murray Jr. in Going Back”. “A field general of the (Donold) Lourie-(Dan) Caulkins stripe.”

  • Poe Cup, highest honor for a Princeton football player, 1934.
  • Third-team All-America, 1934.
  • Three-year starter.

Touchdown pass to Ken Fairman provided the winner in a 7-0 victory against Dartmouth, 1933.  “Kadlic was in our eyes the greatest performer on the field, a brilliant, cagey field general, a hair-trigger passer and a deadly tackler,” wrote Murray.  “His was the arm that threw the touchdown pass, his the canny brain that conceived the play.”

Wrote Murray about the 13-0 victory over Navy: “Kats Kadlic was a brilliant quarterback, a tactical genius . . . .But you cannot laud this Ohio lad with mere words. He is a ballplayer’s ball-player.  His tackles fill the ear and eye.  You can hear their rasping impact on every nook and cranny of the Stadium.”

Richard Kazmaier ’52

Richard Kazmaier ’52

  • Princeton’s only Heisman Trophy winner, 1951.
  • Consensus All-America, 1951. All-America, 1950.
  • Maxwell Award, 1951.
  • Member, national champions, 1950.
  • All-Ivy, 1950-1 and All-East 1950-1.
  • Named Ivy League Football Player of the Decade in 1960.
  • Accrued 1,827 total yards in 1951 and 4,354 for his career.

Was 15-of-17 for 236 yards passing and 124 yards rushing in 1951 against Cornell, described by Coach Charlie Caldwell as “the greatest individual performance I’ve ever seen.”

Had 37 carries for 262 yards and two touchdowns against Brown in 1951, earning college back of the week award.

  • Known as the “Maumee (Ohio) Menace,” “Kasual Kaz,” and “Kinetic Kaz”.
Garrett LeVan ’36

Garrett LeVan ’36

“The most valuable halfback to his side I ever saw play,” wrote Herring in Forty Years”.

Called “Twinkle Toes” by his teammates, he was the outside part of an outside-inside combination with Pepper Constable.

“This writer has seen all the great Tiger climax runners of the last fifteen years and this ‘drifting ghost,’ Garry LeVan, looks like the greatest of them all,” wrote Murray in Going Back”. “He seems to drift, spook-like, up to the scrimmage and then with an amazing burst of speed, ‘Pouf!’ he’s off.  Once in the clear, I doubt if they’ll ever catch him.”

Wrote Macht inFootball’s Last Iron Men”: “The most dangerous open field runner in the land.  He could punt, was perhaps the best passer as well as receiver on the team, and led in interceptions.”

  • Scored on a 72-yard touchdown run against Williams in 1933
  • A standout defensive back. Had three interceptions against Washington & Lee in 1933.
  • Punted and returned punts.
  • Third-team All-America, 1933; fourth-team 1934; honorable mention, 1935.
  • All-East, 1933
  • Poe Cup, 1935.
  • His teams were 25-1 from 1933-5 and won two national championships.
  • Scored touchdown in the fabled 26-6 victory over Dartmouth in the snow, 1935.
  • Standout defensive back had four interceptions against Navy and three versus Washington & Lee in 1933.
  • Steubenville, Ohio native known as the “Steubenville Ghost” and the “Steubenville Spook.”
  • Member, baseball team. Awarded Kafer Cup “for his excellent performances on the diamond.”
Bob Peters ’42

Bob Peters ’42

Scored three touchdowns in 20-6 win over Yale in 1941 that completed a four-year sweep of the Bulldogs during his time at Princeton.  Was awarded the game ball by Hall of Fame Coach Tad Wieman, who said Peters “belongs in Princeton’s select list of football greats,” adding, “One of my deepest personal satisfactions in connection with the game is that Pete will be able to treasure the ball used in the Yale game, knowing he played such a large part in winning it.”

  • Also scored the only touchdown in the 10-7  win over Yale in 1940.
  • His 214 yards on 14 receptions–one of them an 82-yard toss from Allerdice–against Penn in 1940 remained Princeton single game records for 41 years.
  • Had 10 punt returns for a then single-game Princeton mark of 151 yards versus Harvard in 1940.

His spectacular 62-yard fourth quarter run during the 28-13 win over Rutgers in 1940 was described thusly by the Daily Princetonian: “He swung wide around his right end, straight-armed two men who had knifed through the Tiger line, slipped through a posse of secondary and escaped to the end zone.”

  • Captain and Poe Cup, 1941
  • Awarded punting trophy in the name of Leroy N. Mills ’05 in 1941.
  • Also played varsity basketball, baseball, and threw the javelin.
  • Army captain in World War II was awarded Bronze Star and two battle stars. 
Dick Pivirotto ’52

Dick Pivirotto ’52

  • Speedy and tough wingback-defensive back on 1950 national champion team and Lambert Trophy winners of 1950-1.
  • Was knocked unconscious after catching a punt against Penn yet did not fumble and returned to the game.
  • Averaged 4.8 yards per carry in 1951, when he was All-Ivy and played in East-West Shrine game,
  • Had nine carries for 152 yards, including an 82-yard run, against Harvard in 1951.

“(His) tackling [was] deadly all year,” reported the Daily Princetonian at the end of his 1950 sophomore season.

  • Averaged 4.8 yards per carry in 1951, when he was All-Ivy and played in East-West Shrine game.
  • Only player who started season playing both ways in 1951.
  • Drafted by Pittsburgh Steelers, 1952.
George Sella ’50

George Sella ’50

“One of the finest broken field runners in Princeton history” according to the Daily Princetonian, could also block, throw and tackle.

“George likewise executes blocking assignments with a high degree of perfection and ranks as a defensive back beyond whom opposing runners rarely go,” wrote The Prince. “When he’s in the safety position, this is particularly true. He is . . . a constant threat on offense, drawing heavy coverage as a decoy on pass plays, dazzling the defense if he is shaken loose in the open field on a wide sweep. On defense] he imparts to breaking up opponents’ plays that penetrate the Tiger secondary.”

Was described by [Coach Charlie] Caldwell as ‘Mr. Princeton Football.’”

Set several school records, including most touchdown receptions in a career (eight), most yards gained by punt returns in a career (433), most yards per carry in a season (6.3 in 1949), and career (6.1).

  • All-America, 1949.
  • All-East and All-Ivy, 1948-9.
  • Roper Trophy, 1950
  • Member, Big Three champions 1947-9.
  • Two-time All-Ivy basketball player was known as “Cyclone Sella” on the court.
Homer Smith ’54

Homer Smith ’54

  • All-East and All-Ivy 1953.
  • Honorable mention All-Ivy 1951, when he was member of Lambert Trophy winners.
  • Captain, 1953.
  • Had a 273-yard rushing game against Harvard, plus a 93-yard run against Yale, in 1952.
  • Poe Cup, 1953.
  • Class president awarded the W. Sanderson Detwiler ‘03 Prize given to the senior “who has done the most for his class” plus earned Roper Trophy in 1954.

Served as head coach at Davidson, University of the Pacific, and the U.S. Military Academy. Was offensive coordinator at UCLA, Alabama, Arizona, and the Kansas City Chiefs, plus backfield coach at the Air Force Academy and Stanford. Coached in four Rose Bowls and eight other bowl games.  

Honored by the American Football Coaches Association in 2007 with its Outstanding Achievement Award “for contributions to the football coaching profession, mentorship of his fellow coaches, and outstanding teaching of student-athletes.”

Linemen

Julian Buxton ’50

Julian Buxton ’50

  • Opened holes for the record-setting George Sella.
  • Honorable mention All-Ivy, 1948.
  • Three-year starter on the offensive line.
  • Big Three Championship, 1947-9.
  • Captain, freshman team.
  • Class president.
  • Declined NFL offers to attend Johns Hopkins Medical School.
Charles Ceppi ’34

Charles Ceppi ’34

“Charley Ceppi was squat as a trench mortar but mobile as a cat, a streak of lightning downfield, a powerhouse in the Tiger line all afternoon” wrote Murray about the 1933 Navy Game. “He played a slashing, All-American brand of tackle.”

  • All America and member of national champions 1933

“Charley Ceppi and Art Lane were twin demons of death to Columbia plays at the tackle. “ wrote Murray after 20-0 win in 1933. “Charging with a ferocity and berserk fervor, they murdered Lion players before they got underway.”

Blocked a punt that Ken Fairman picked up and ran in for a touchdown against Yale in 1933, after which Murray wrote: “Charley Ceppi, playing his last game, was the finest tackle the writer has ever seen in a Nassau jersey, including even such immortals as (Stan) Keck, (Herb) Treat, and (William) Barfield. His was an inspired brand of All-American football. On defense, he spent most of his time in the Yale backfield while, as running guard on offense, he was the spear-head of the Orange and Black’s puissant attack.”

  • Participant, East-West Shrine Game.
  • Named by Fritz Crisler to his All-East team, 1933.
  • Assistant coach at Princeton.
Hollie Donan ’51

Hollie Donan ’51

Described in 1950 by Coach Charlie Caldwell as a “wrecking crew” and “Princeton’s best tackle since Stan Keck (‘22)”

  • All-America and All-Ivy as member of the 1950 National Champions and Lambert Trophy winners.
  • Third-team All-America, 1949.
  • Gave pep talk at halftime of the 1950 Navy game that propelled the Tigers to 20-14 victory.
  • East-West Shrine game participant, 1950.
Redmond “Reddy” Finney ’51

Redmond “Reddy” Finney ’51

  • Center and main cog of the 1950 line, which powered Princeton to the national title.
  • All-America and All-Ivy, 1950.
  • One of two persons ever named All-America in both major college football and lacrosse, Jim Brown being the other.
  • Poe Cup, 1950.
  • Invited to play in Blue-Gray All-Star game, but declined due to Princeton wrestling obligations.
  • Roper Trophy, 1951.
Brad Glass ’53

Brad Glass ’53

“An immovable guard with unmatched upper body strength,” wrote Dr. William Ledger in his book Team of Destiny, Princeton’s Undefeated 1951 Season”.

Finney told the Daily Princetonian that trying to block Glass was “like trying to block a windmill.”

  • First-team All-Ivy, 1950-51.
  • Third-team, All-America, 1951.
  • Remains Princeton’s only national champion heavyweight wrestler (1951).
David F. Hickok ’52

David F. Hickok ’52

Member of national championship and Lambert Trophy teams of 1950. Also on Lambert Trophy team of 1951, which he served as captain.

  • Selected for East-West Shrine game, 1951.
  • All-Ivy and All-East, 1951.
  • Poe Cup, 1951.
Elwood “Mose” Kalbaugh ’35

Elwood “Mose” Kalbaugh ’35

“A quiet leader who became an impenetrable fortress all year,” wrote Macht in “Football’s Last Iron Men”. “His every snap of the ball was perfect, no small factor at a time when whoever was to take the snap stood several yards back on every player.”

Member on 1933 National Champions, when he was named All-East by Coach Fritz Crisler, who said Kalbaugh was a “great inspirational leader and invaluable at center all season.”

  • Goal-line tackle against Washington & Lea preserved a 6-0 win for the Tigers in 1933. 
  • All-America, 1934, when he was elected captain unanimously.
William Koch

William Koch

Defensive stalwart praised by line coach Dick Colman (and future Hall of Fame Head Coach) in 1948 for “teeth rattling tackles” during 47-7 drubbing of Harvard, one of the worst defeats in Crimson history.

  • Third-team All-America 1948.
  • Captain, 1948.
  • Invited to play in 1948 Shrine Charity North-South Game at the Orange Bowl.
Art Lane ’34

Art Lane ’34

  • Captained 1933 national champions and named second-team All-America.

“Magnetic of personality and high-powered in ability,” wrote Murray in Going Back”. “Often called the finest offensive tackle to enter Nassau since Stan Keck.”

 “Charley Ceppi and Art Lane were twin demons of death to Columbia plays at the tackle,” added Murray. “Charging with a ferocity and berserk fervor, they murdered Lion players before they got underway.” 

  • Selected by Crisler for his All-East team, 1933.
  • Pyne Prize recipient.
Frank Perantoni ’48

Frank Perantoni ’48

Started as a freshman in a new position for him – center – and made All-Ivy. Left Princeton for nearly three years to serve in World War II and returned to make All-America in 1946-47.

  • Captain of 1946 team that pulled off probably Princeton’s greatest-ever upset, 17-14 at Penn.
  • Poe Cup, 1947
  • Captain and All-America, Princeton track & field, 1946.
Bob Tierney ’40

Bob Tierney ’40

Unassuming, powerful giant (6’4’½, 220 pounds) was known as the “Pearl River Pachyderm,” a “tough customer,” and a “bone-crusher.”

Was the cornerstone of the 1939 line, recording a memorable safety in the 9-6 victory that year over Harvard. “Tierney did yeoman work in bolstering the line, and when [Harvard’s punter] Spreyer, standing flush with his goal posts, attempted a kick, the Tiger captain crashed through for one of his phenomenal blocks,” wrote the Daily Princetonian.  

  • Second-team All-America, 1939, when he also was All-Ivy and All-East.
  • Blocked multiple kicks in 1938, earning praise from Wieman for playing “aggressive, alert, and intelligent football.”
  • Three-year starter captained the 1939 team.
  • Honorable Mention All-East, 1938.
  • Invited to play in several postseason all-star games, plus try out for two professional teams, the New York Giants and the Brooklyn Dodgers.
  • Inducted into the Rockland County Sports Hall of Fame, 1984. 
Charles Toll, Jr. ’38

Charles Toll, Jr. ’38

Huge (6-5) and brawny tackle described as “the best tackle in the country” by renowned sportswriter George Trevor in 1936.

  • Second-team All-America 1935-6.
  • Captain, 1937. 
  • Member, 1935 national champions.
  • All-East, 1936.
  • Awarded Roper Trophy, 1938.
  • Was also a wrestler, basketball player, and lacrosse player at Princeton
John “Jac” Weller ’36

John “Jac” Weller ’36

  • Consensus All-America, 1935.
  • Second-team All-America, 1934.
  • Member of the 1933 and 1935 national champions.

At a huge-for-his-time 6-1, 225, Weller was, according to Macht in Football’s Last Iron Men”, a “savage tackler who also fast enough to outrun the ends down the field in pursuit of kick receiver and stepped back as a linebacker on defense.”

When Weller showed up late for training camp in 1934; Coach Fritz Crisler demoted him to the second team. Weller challenged the decision, but Crisler refused to yield.

  • Teams were 25-1 during Weller’s three varsity seasons.

A Jimmy Cagney lookalike, according to Macht, Weller played the role in 1935, kicking the butt, literally- of the “12th man”–a spectator who joined Dartmouth for a goalline stand in the snow–as he was led off the field by constables.

  • Set school record in the discus in 1936.

Ends

Kenneth “Ken” Fairman ’34

Kenneth “Ken” Fairman ’34

“A raging defensive wind, a hard blocker with a knack for snatching passes out of the air, he is a whirlwind down field,” wrote Murray in Going Back”.

Member, undefeated national champions, 1933. Ran for a touchdown that year with a Dartmouth punt blocked by Ceppi, scoring the only touchdown of a 7-0 victory. 

  • Selected by Crisler to his All-East second-team, 1933.
  • Earned eight varsity letters in football, basketball and lacrosse combined.
  • Captained the basketball team, 1933-34.
  • Awarded the Poe Cup.
  • Winner, B. F. Bunn Trophy
  • Basketball coach at Princeton, 1935-8, and athletic director, 1941-72. 
Gilbert Lea ’36

Gilbert Lea ’36

  • All-America, 1935.
  • Honorable mention, All-America, 1934.
  • Member of national championship teams, 1933 and 1935.

As son of Langdon Lea, was the fourth generation of his family to play football at Princeton.

“Offensive play is crisp and decisive,” wrote Murray in Going Back”.  “He has a flair for catching long passes on the dead run [and] is a flash downfield.”

After Princeton’s 20-0 victory over Columbia in 1933, Murray wrote: “His simian clutch of two passes from the sharp-shooting Kadlic were dramatic highlights of the afternoon.  His defensive play was of high caliber – his was a smashing devil-may-care, strip-of-wing, play. His block of Montgomery’s punt was a sensational bit of daring football.”

Frank McPhee ’53

Frank McPhee ’53

  • Consensus All-America, 1952.

All-America, 1951, when as a member of the Lambert Trophy team, he made a spectacular one-handed catch for a 31-yard touchdown against Penn.  

Blocked both a PAT and a punt, plus recovered a fumble against Cornell, in 1951. Named AP Lineman of the Week.

  • All-East, 1951.
  • Awarded Roper Trophy, 1953.
  • Teams were 25-1 and won the 1950 national championship.
  • Played one year in the NFL for the Chicago Cardinals.
Hugh MacMillan ’36

Hugh MacMillan ’36

  • Teamed with Gil Lea to form one of the most accomplished pair of ends in school history.

Honorable Mention All-America, 1935, when a member of National Championship team.

Also punted. “Hugh MacMillan [is] one of the most versatile players on the Nassau squad.” wrote the Daily Princetonian in 1934.  

  • Guard and Captain, Princeton basketball, 1935-6.
  • Awarded Roper Trophy, 1936. 

Presented Silver Anniversary All-America Award from Sports Illustrated in 1960, recognizing career as a surgeon in addition to his play on the 1935 national title team.

Kickers

Robert Perina ’43

Robert Perina ’43

Triple threat star who especially stood out as a punter. In 1942 set school record for most punts in a season – 79 (for 2,871 yards). Twenty of them went for 740 yards during the 1942 Penn game.

[Perina] is one of the East’s top ranking distance punters, as well as a hard and dangerous runner,” wrote the Harvard Crimson in 1942  “Now in his senior year, the Tiger right halfback is finally living up to the promise he showed as a freshman.”

  • Honorable mention All-America, All-Ivy and All-East, 1942.
  • Voted best all-around athlete, class of 1943.

Shortstop and captain, Princeton baseball team. Played for Louisville Colonels, farm team for Boston Red Sox.

  • Enlisted in Marines in 1943. Awarded Bronze Star for heroism on Iwo Jima, 1945.
  • Played quarterback, running back and defensive back for five NFL teams between 1946-50.
Elmer “Kenneth” Sandbach ’37

Elmer “Kenneth” Sandbach ’37

  • Led the nation in PATs during 1935 national championship season.
  • Third-team All-America, 1935. Honorable mention, All-America, 1934 and 1936. All East, 1936.

Called by the New York Times, “One of the East’s best field generals. He is a fine passer, a great blocker, and a good ball carrier.”

  • Had 145 yards on two kickoff returns against Williams in 1934.
  • Kicked the only points during 3-0 victory for the East in East-West Shrine Game, 1935.
  • Poe Cup, 1936.
  • Member, basketball team, 1934-36.
  • Awarded Roper Trophy, 1937.