On Thursday morning, one of the trailblazers in the sport of football passed away.
Wally Triplett, a former Penn State RB and LB, died at the age of 92.
“This is a tremendous loss for not only our football program, but the Penn State community as a whole,” said Penn State coach James Franklin. “Wally was a trailblazer as the first African-American to be drafted and play in the NFL and his influence continues to live on. He had a profound effect on me and the team when he visited in 2015 and shared valuable lessons from his life story and ability to overcome. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Wally’s family.”
Triplett, outside of playing RB and LB for the Nittany Lions, he also returned punts. With his career average of 16.5 yards per return, that marks second-best in program history.
Following his time at Penn State, Triplett became the first ever African-American to be drafted and play in the NFL. He was selected in the 19th round of the 1949 NFL Draft by the Detroit Lions.
In 1950, against the Los Angeles Rams, he showcased his returning abilities by amassing a single-game record 294 yards on 4 kickoff returns. That record stood for 44 years.
Two weeks after that incredible returning performance, he was drafted into the Army and fought for 2 years in the Korean War.