Bill McColl: Everybody's All-American
A descendant of legendary Scottish Highland clan leader Angus McColl, William Frazier McColl was born April 2, 1930 at Mercy Hospital in San Diego, California. It would take a full-fledged biographical work to do justice to one of the most accomplished student-athletes in Stanford Football history, but we will give it the old college try.
McColl came from a family of athletes and scholars. His older brother Johnny (Jack) would earn "Little All-American" honors as a quarterback at Pomona College in 1949. A four-sport star at Hoover High School in San Diego (hitting .425 in baseball and striking out just twice in two years for the same school that produced the "Splendid Splinter" Ted Williams), the younger McColl was one of the most sought-after recruits in California. An Eagle scout in addition to winning local soap box derby and kite-flying contests, "Little Willie" was recognized by the Helms Foundation of Los Angeles as the top prep athlete ion Southern California. He was reportedly offered five-figure bribes to enroll at certain schools hoping to exploit his athletic ability. Nope, instead he would head to Palo Alto on a scholastic, rather than athletic scholarship!
Down on the Farm, McColl would prove ridiculously versatile, playing seven different positions, but making his mark primarily as an unstoppable pass-catching offensive end. The proud member of the Zeta Psi fraternity would become a two-time consensus All-American and finish as third runner-up for the Heisman Trophy in 1951. That same year, he became the first person to receive the "W.J. Voit Memorial Trophy" as the outstanding football player on the Pacific Coast.
1951 was a remarkable season not only for McColl, but his Stanford Indians team as a whole as the "How Boys" would win the PCC Championship for the first time in 11 years and score a date with Illinois in the 1952 Rose Bowl. Along with his close friends who were dubbed by the media as the "Shish-kebab Twins" - talented Armenian quarterback Gary Kerkorian and halfback Harry Hugasian - and a stout defense led by the likes of Stanford Athletic Hall of Famer Dick Horn and Bootleg buddy Al Kirkland, the Indians under first-year head coach Chuck Taylor got off to a remarkable 9-0 start before dropping the Big Game to Cal and falling short in Pasadena.
McColl, the 6-4, 225-pounder [the relative equivalent of which today would be about 6-7, 265, running a 4.5 40] who wore size 14-D shoes, was named All-American for the second straight year, a unanimous choice in his senior season when he played exclusively at offensive end. As a junior in 1950, McColl broke all-time Pacific Coast Conference records for pass receptions (39) and yards (671) and he followed that up with an equally impressive final season despite no longer being the team's exclusive/primary offensive weapon. An incredible athlete for his size, McColl won the low hurdles in the All-University Intramural Championships in the spring of 1951 and was said to be able to throw a football 75-80 yards.
In August of 1952 McColl played alongside USC star Frank Gifford, Ohio State's 1950 Heisman winner Vic Janowicz, UW's Hugh McElhenny and USF stars Ollie Matson and Gino Marchetti in the 19th Annual All-Star game at Soldiers' Field in Chicago, which featured the nation's top college players against the defending NFL champion Los Angeles Rams (Bob Waterfield, Norm Van Brocklin, Tom Fears, Andy Robustelli, Elroy Hirsh, Dick "Night Train" Lane and the great Len Teeuws (whose sons Mike and John would later play football at Stanford). The pros escaped with a hard-fought 10-7 victory.
McColl had been drafted by the Chicago Bears in the third round of the 1952 NFL Draft. According to the November 1951 issue of Sport magazine, Bears owner George Halas told his people "Do anything, trade anybody, make any deal you have to make - but get the draft rights to this end!" McColl would play defensive end and offensive end for the Bears from 1952 to 1959, catching TDs from among others, Bears quarterback George Blanda. Interestingly, he was one of the first ends technically to be referred to as a "tight end" as the pro set first was then becoming popular). McColl never missed a single pro game.
After his distinguished career in professional
football was cut short by the intensity of his medical studies, McColl went
on to become an orthopedic surgeon and served in Daegu, (South) Korea from
1962-64 as a Presbyterian medical missionary specializing in
reconstructive surgery for victims of leprosy. He even produced, directed
and narrated a film, "Highway of Hope," focusing on the rehabilitation of
leprosy victims. McColl would later serve as board chairman of
American Leprosy Missions Inc. in the
None of this was surprising as McColl came from a medical clan that at the time could count 18 physicians in the family.
Dr. McColl was recognized by NFL Hall of Fame with a humanitarian award for his overseas service and was voted one of the 10 "Outstanding Young Men of America" (TOYM) in 1964 by the United States Junior Chamber of Commerce. McColl was inducted into the San Diego Hall of Champions Breitbard Hall of Fame in 1965, inducted into the Stanford University Athletic Hall of Fame, and in 1973 into the College Football Hall of Fame. He served on the Stanford University Board of Trustees from 1976-80.
McColl has achieved so much in his life, but his
career and ambition was not completely immune from adversity.
The one thing that eluded him was a successful
political career. He ran three times for U.S. Congressman, hoping to mirror the path of
former '52 Rose Bowl teammate and two-time Olympic decathlon gold medalist Bob Mathias, but was
unsuccessful each time.
The McColls are understandably proud of their Scottish heritage and each family member has, and wears on special occasions, the McColl tartan, which features fighting colors of red (naturally!), green, blue (regrettably!), and brown.
LSJU may not have tartans, but they would probably qualify for crowns. If there is such a thing, the McColl family would have to represent "Stanford royalty". Each and every one of Bill and Stanford alum wife Barbara's six children graduated from Stanford University. Four earned master's degrees. McCall's son Duncan was a dominating defensive end for the Cardinal from 1974 to 1976 and as a senior made first-team All-American in 1976, joining his father as the first and only father-son All-America football combination in school history. Along with 1976 teammates, wide receiver Tony Hill and kicker Mike Michel, Duncan represented Stanford in the Shrine East-West game.
Another son, Milt McColl, was an outstanding linebacker for Stanford from 1977-80, won a couple of Super Bowl rings as a valuable reserve and special teams captain on Bill Walsh's San Francisco 49ers teams in the 1980s, once did missionary work in plastic surgery in South America, and today serves as a venture partner at biotech investment firm New Leaf Venture Partners (originally the Sprout Group, the venture capital arm of investment bank Donaldson, Lufkin, Jenrette, later Credit Suisse First Boston). Younger brother John McColl was an outside hitter for the Stanford Men's Volleyball team in the early 80s. Seriously, you can't make this stuff up!
Duncan, like his father a proud member of the Stanford Athletic Hall of Fame, played briefly for the NFL's Washington Redskins, but his career would be cut short by injury. He is now a minister, Senior Pastor at the First Presbyterian Church in Fullerton (Calif.). "Dr. Milt", who followed closely in his father's very large footsteps by attending medical school (at Stanford), has been extremely active with Cardinal athletics, serving in the past as Chairman of the Stanford Athletic Board.
As if all of that were not enough - it get's even better! Duncan's wife Emily was a sweeper on the Stanford women's field hockey team. Their daughter Meredith was a stand-out goalkeeper on the Stanford women's water polo team from 2004-07 and their son Will was a walk-on on the Cardinal men's water polo team in 2002-03. Milt and wife Cindy's son Kellen McColl is currently a junior outfielder on the Stanford Baseball team. Heck, there are probably even more McColls involved in Stanford sports, but even The Bootleg can't possibly keep track of them all!
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