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Michigan State University

Making History Under Center

Thrower Jumping

Making History Under Center

 

With perhaps the most fitting name for a quarterback ever, MSU’s Willie Thrower, ’54, became the Big Ten’s first Black QB in 1950. He went on to play three seasons in East Lansing under Coach “Biggie” Munn. Thrower was a talented passer. He compled 59 percent of his attempts in 1952, and was integral to the Spartans’ march to that season’s National Championship title.

Sept. 1950, a group of sophomore football players from Pennsylvania. L to R: Renaldo Kozikowski, Vincent Pisano, Richard Tamburo, Bill Horrell, #27 Willie Thrower and Line Coach Duffy Daugherty.
Sept. 1950, a group of sophomore football players from Pennsylvania. L to R: Renaldo Kozikowski, Vincent Pisano, Richard Tamburo, Bill Horrell, #27 Willie Thrower and Line Coach Duffy Daugherty.
A group photograph of six football players. Second from the right is Willie Thrower. Others not identified.
Oct. 1952. Thrower is second from the right. Others not identified.
Spartans in uniform, Sept. 1951. #78 Donald Coleman, #27 Willie Thrower, #16 Arthur Ingram, #39 Leroy Bolden.
Spartans in uniform, Sept. 1951. #78 Donald Coleman, #27 Willie Thrower, #16 Arthur Ingram, #39 Leroy Bolden.
Willie Thrower in action.
Willie Thrower in action.

Less than a year later, on October 18, 1953, Thrower took the field for the Chicago Bears and became the first Black quarterback to play in the NFL.

Willie Thrower with Football
Willie Thrower, ’54, the Big Ten’s first Black quarterback.

 

Photos: Michigan State University Archives and Historical Collections

 

Author: Tim Cerullo, '08

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