Bob Kyasky

In the mid fifties, a cadet by the name of Bob Kyasky from Ansonia, CT, was destined to become the next Glenn Davis. A gifted runner who came to the academy with blazing speed, he was considered by many to become a future All-American and possible Heisman Trophy winner.

It never happened and it didn't happen because of his lack of intensity or desire to excel. It happened because he was destined to be the hard luck player of Army Football during that decade.

A broken collarbone and a most serious leg injury during his years playing academy football cut Bob's days of glory on the Black Knight team down to a minimum.

Bob graduated from West Point in 1957 and his last chance to perform on the gridiron for the Army team was the 1956 season. Although he did manage to letter for the '54-'55 seasons, he wanted to go out on top as a First Classman and play for the entire season and in so doing, play well.

The following is an article written by sports columnist Harold Rosenthal before the 1956 season---

BIG SHARE OF ARMYS HOPES REST ON REPAIRED KNEE OF KYASKY

Fastest Gridder in Cadet History Robbed of Stardom by Injuries

By HAROLD ROSENTHAL

WEST POINT, N. Y.

Late last year a rugged-looking U. S. Military Academy cadet put in a rugged six weeks in Walter Reed Hospital after having undergone surgery on his left knee. It cost him his Christmas furlough, demanded long hours of painful concentration on the books as he strove desperately, but successfully, to keep up with his classwork. The latter effort was successful because Bob Kyasky is a good student. The entire Academy is hopeful that the knee operation that caused this unusual situation is equally as successful because a Bob Kyasky, 100 per cent effective, would prove a tremendous factor in the Army football picture this season.

Kyasky is the fastest man ever to play football for Army. That encompasses a tremendous area but the stop-watches don't lie. He has run the 100 as fast (0.09.7) as any Cadet in history, has run the 220 faster (0:20.6). And just in case he has to jump a final few, yards for a touchdown, he is co-holder of the Academys all-time broad jump record of 24 feet, two inch- es with Winfield Scott, another halfback of earlier vintage.

Small wonder, then, that most pre-season strategy meetings among Earl Blaik, veteran Army head coach, and his assistants invariably wound up with... "And, of course, this all depends on Bob's knee." Kyasky's knee was a junior-year ailment which hit the Army football plans after a broken collarbone had dealt Kyasky (and the Army) a cruel blow in 1954, his first year on the varsity.

The dynamic left halfback got to play about a half of the 1954 season after the collarbone mended. The heavy protective gear he was required to wear cut down, however, both on his running speed and his pass-snaring ability, both of which he has in heaping helpings. Despite the encumbrances of added gear, Bob uncorked two scoring sorties of more than 50 yards. Before the Cadets opened their 1956 campaign, by defeating Virginia Military Institute, 32 to 12, Sep- tember 29, Kyasky owned an average of five yards gained per carry.

Actually, no one knows quite how good the 180- pound youth from Ansonia, Conn. really is. There have been only flashes of form between injuries from the time he broke his collarbone a first time while playing with the Plebes, up to last year. When they carried him off the field during the Navy game in addition to the torn cartilege which caused the locking,there was a ligament that had slipped.

A procedure whereby a hole was drilled into the bone and the ligament was refastened through it was called for. The post-operative procedure called for Kyaskys passing up track and all other sports completely during rehab.

MERCURY IN MOLESKIN

West Point's Bob Kyasky

BOB TOTED SPECIAL WEIGHTS----

WEST POINT, N. Y.-Members of the Army's class of '57, making the summer trip to Wright- Patterson Field, Fort Sill, Fort Bliss, Fort Knox and Fort Belvoir in June, toted the standard Cadet gear, but Cadet Bob Kyasky's duffle was a little heavier than the rest. The reason was the special weight Kyasky carried to use in daily exercises for strengthening his injured knee.

The Army halfback last spring used as much as 100 pounds of weights in the various exercises designed to strengthen his leg and return it to normal use.

ROSENTHAL. JUST AS GOOD AS GLENN DAVISP

But the Army board of strategy, which has screened as much talent probably as any bigtime college coaching staff in the country, thinks Bob Kyasky is very, very good. All- America potential, in fact.

Said Earl Blaik: "If he hadn't been hurt, you'd be talking about Bob Kyasky today the way they spoke about Glenn Davis. He's as good a football player, and just as fast." Blaik warmed to his subject and declared, "They talk about 'the will to win' a lot these days and maybe they put this sometimes on fellows who don't deserve it, but this boy puts his intense desire to play football above all else. He'd play on one leg if we'd let him.

"Kyasky is a football player with track ability. In other words, football with him comes ahead of every- thing else. He knows bow to run and he's a champion in track but he isn't a straight up-and-down runner who comes out for football and doesn't make it. We have lots of 9.9 runners around here who are not football players, and we have football players who are 10.3 runners but Kyasky combines the best features of both.

"Unfortunately, Bob's injury could have happened to anyone. Look at Glenn Davis. He went through his whole college career without any trouble and then he gets in front of the cameras in Hollywood and tries to do something on the set that he's done a thousand times on the field. Pop, there it goes. He came up with the same kind of a knee Kyasky had." Kyasky's knee trouble stemmed from no goal-line plunge, no 60-yard pass completion, no smash off- tackle for a vital few yards. It was a prosaic piece of practice business, ironically on the opening day of 1955's practice.

"It was in the first hour we were working," de- clared Bob, "and we lined up in two lines with a coach throwing the ball between two men so that we could jump for possession. The first time I tried it nothing happened; the second time I came down on my knee funny and twisted it."

KNEE AS SOUND AS EVER

Twisted knees are not uncommon and nothing was thought of it except that it required the Cadets' first-string left half to lay off for a couple of weeks. He was back two weeks later, running in a signal drill. There was a sweep around left end with the man in front of Bob throwing a block on a dummy. Kyasky side- stepped to avoid bumping the blocker. Bang, it went again.

It was to be a bad knee now that was to confound Army's plans all season. He got in two minutes of play in the Penn State game, hurt it again. He started against Pennsylvania, had to be taken out. In the big Navy game Bob went 28 minutes, went to block a linebacker, and the knee locked hopelessly. The operation at Walter Reed followed a few weeks later. It wasn't an ordinary knee operation. His knee should be as sound as it ever will be this fall.

If it is, and if he shakes the hoodoo that has dogged his steps ever since he entered the Academy, Kyasky will be a powerful element in the Army attack. He is a strong break-away runner with a fast start. He is an ever-present threat on the receiving end of the long pass. He is a good blacker. Strange thing about Kyasky's proneness to injury in his first three years at West Point is that he was never hurt as a high school player at Ansonia where he won All-America honorable mention, nor at Manlius School, where he starred in football, basketball, baseball and track while preparing for entrance to the Point. And he appeared in all sports as a schoolboy, basketball, baseball and track.

Kyasky is an unusual trackman in that he combines all sorts of unlikely talents. A sprinter-broad jumper combination is ordinary enough, but Kyasky has also put the shot and tossed the javelin. He was a member of the Yale-Army team which went to England to face Oxford -Cambridge in the spring of 1955, was the outstanding performer in the 100 and broad jump, and a member of the winning 440-yard relay. Followers of Army football will remember 1954 for two setbacks-a whacking opening-game upset at the hands of South Carolina by a 34 to 20 count, and the 27 to 20 setback by Navy. Kyasky will also remember the South Carolina game always but for a slightly dif- ferent reason.

HIT OFTEN BY MISFORTUNE

A year earlier he had sustained a fracture of his left collarbone in a Friday afternoon mid- season game involving the Plebes and the Jayvees.

He had been thrown heavily on his left shoulder after catching a pass. A sling for the injured side was prescribed, and Kyasky was done with football in his freshman year. Now it was the start of his sophomore campaign, but misfortune didn't waste any time before striking again.

Half-way through the second period there Was a pass directed at Kyasky, He caught it, spun in the direction of the goal-line and as be did he was hit from the side. He fell on the same shoulder. When he arose there it was, drooping in that same dismaying tell-tale fashion which indicated a break.

This time they put a figure-8 cast on Kyasky and he wore it for four weeks. He got back into action in the Yale game, scored a couple of touchdowns. In the Navy contest he took a pass from Pete Vann for one of the Army tallies. The heavy sponge rubber protection and strapping by Rollie Bevan, the Army trainer, prevented him from functioning at his maximum efficiency. If Kyasky doesn't do another thing on the football field-and Army hopes fervently that he does-he's a hero in Red Blaik's eyes.

"Imagine," declared Blaik, "The boy missed four weeks of school last December and was able to catch up all by himself. That's almost a miracle. We don't get that kind of boy who is good at football and good at the books too often. I hope he's all right this year."


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