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Jack Shanafelt

Courtesy: University of Pennsylvania
HALL OF FAME CLASS IX: Jack L. Shanafelt W'54
Courtesy: University of Pennsylvania  
Release:  05/01/2014

In an era when the Penn football program consistently took on national football powerhouses such as Notre Dame, Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio State, Georgia, Navy, Army and Penn State, Jack Shanafelt was a standout tackle for the Quakers. He played both sides of the ball -- one of the last ‘sixty-minute men’ -- and was the last Penn Football player to earn Division I first-team All-America honors. Shanafelt was a three-year letterwinner and started all three years of his varsity career for the Quakers (at the time, freshmen were not allowed to play varsity football). All the more impressive, he was an asset to the Red and Blue on both offense and defense. In his second season as a starter, Shanafelt began to garner national recognition. He had key fumble recoveries in a win at Columbia and a tie with Navy. In the 1952 season finale, he added 11 tackles in the Thanksgiving Day win over Cornell. Shanafelt finished the year with 51 tackles, which led all Penn linemen. The breakout season earned him All-East honors as a junior. He duplicated the accolade in his final season wearing the Red and Blue. In the final year of head coach George Munger’s Hall of Fame career, No. 72 was arguably the team’s most prominent player. Following his senior season, Shanafelt was selected first-team All-America by several publications including the Associated Press, Football Writers Association and Look Magazine -- premier honors in the 1950s, as at the time only 11 players in the entire country were picked. Shanafelt is known as Penn’s last Division I All-America selection, as he was the final Quaker player to receive the honor prior to the program’s move to the Football Championship Subdivision (Division I-AA) upon its creation in 1978. Following his collegiate career in the Red and Blue, Shanafelt was selected in the 1954 NFL Draft by the Detroit Lions. In addition, he was a member of the Army All-Star football team in Japan and later elected to the Ohio Sports Hall of Fame.

“In 1953, the year Jack was chosen to be on all the All-American football teams, we were fraternity brothers at SAE and roommates. We were also good friends! I am sorry that his family could not be here. They will receive a full report on this wonderful evening, as will Ken Thorn and Ted Moock who have kept Jack’s name very much alive before the selection committee.
     “I saw George Bosseler, a teammate, at a Homecoming game a few years ago and asked if he or the Mungermen had heard from Jack. He said they had not, but added that Jack was a real rock at right tackle. Jack also was a real rock as a friend! During the fall of 1953, we both had an 8:00 class and would walk down Spruce Street together. During the football season, Jack would give every sycamore tree a forearm so hard that it is a wonder any of them lived through the blow.
     “Two more memories of Jack that fall. One: When we played the University of Georgia, a Georgia gal, who was the current Miss America, was introduced at halftime. A tradition, and I hope it still is, was a reception for the teams after the game. At about 7.30, a big party was going on at SAE house. Jack walked in with Miss America on his arm. (Her handler was not far behind.) Two: Ed Sullivan of the Sunday TV show always had the current All-America team on the show. At the SAE house, we were watching and having a few beers when Jack was called to the microphone by Sullivan -- great for his fraternity brothers to watch. When he got back on Monday, we asked him why he was the only player interviewed. ‘I was the only one who could speak in complete sentences,’ was Jack’s answer.
     “Jack, you are a dear friend to so many. Your University honors you as a hero. We honor you with love and affection. God Bless you!”

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