Dennie Hoggard and Wallace Triplett|
March 23, 2012
Penn State juniors Dennie Hoggard and Wallace Triplett made Cotton Bowl history in 1948 when they became the first African-American juniors to play in the game. The Nittany Lions played Southern Methodist to a 13-13 tie. The game also marked the first interracial game played at the Cotton Bowl Stadium.
Hoggard was at the forefront of the civil rights movement, along with Triplett, as both players became the first African-Americans to take the field in varsity football games at Penn State in 1945. At Penn State, Hoggard was selected the first black member of the Lion's Paw honorary society, recognizing service to the college and extracurricular activities. He was also a member of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity.
Triplett was the first African-American starter for the Penn State football team in 1945, along with becoming the first to earn a varsity letter and first black Penn Stater to be drafted by the NFL in 1949. Triplett earned his physical education degree and went on to play two years for the Detroit Lions, setting an NFL record with 294 return yards in a single game. The record stood for 44 years.
Triplett left the NFL after the 1950 season for a year of military service in the Korean War and played one season for the Chicago Cardinals when he returned.