Texas A & M

"Aggies" 1948-56
(Authentic Reproduction)


The most tumultuous, exciting, and perhaps rewarding years of A&M football, the reign of Paul "Bear" Bryant (1954-1957) remain among the most memorable in A&M history. Every fan knows about the infamous pre-season Aggie camp held at Junction, Texas in the brutal heat and humidity, the tortuous practice sessions, and the mass exodus of most of the team, leaving the famous twenty-seven Aggies that would forever be immortalized in college football history. Among those were future NFL and college coaches Jack Pardee and Gene Stallings. They would later be joined by a number of freshmen standouts, including John David Crow, who waited on the A&M campus while the varsity players were undergoing a Baptism under fire that changed the consciousness of Southwest college football. Bryant had been viewed as a miracle worker, having improved downtrodden programs at Maryland and Kentucky before arriving at College Station. His brand of football was structured on the highest levels of conditioning and defense and he understood that the Aggie program had grown fat and sloppy, at least in his estimation. The lean and mean bunch returned from their ten day summer torture sessions and went 1-9 in 1954 but Bryant saw what he had expected. As the players donned the white RT shells with the maroon center stripe, they had pride in themselves, their teammates, and their university. There was solid play within the disaster of the won-loss record and despite trying to recruit the best players to an all-male military college located in what was almost a desert, he proved that he was one of college football's greatest recruiters and he saw a brighter future.

Of those famous "Junction Boys" eight would still be with Bryant when A&M won the Southwest Conference Championship two years later. The ends on the 1954 contingent were Gene Stallings and Jack Pardee with the latter seen primarily as a defensive player in this two-way era. As the season wore on, Pardee saw action at fullback too where he would be stationed for the remainder of his college career. Lloyd Hale became famous for volunteering to become the Aggie center when all of the others quit and he remained the starter with lightly-regarded Dennis Goehring at a guard spot. The '54 freshmen team reflected the Bear's recruiting ability. Charlie Krueger, Bobby Joe Conrad, the record-shattering Kenneth Hall, and John David Crow all went on to pro careers while Jim Stanley later became a successful collegiate (Oklahoma State) and pro (USFL) coach. In 1955, the talented frosh joined the varsity and their 7-2-1 record does not indicate that the defense held six opponents to seven points or less. After being picked to finish in the basement, the Cadets finished second to TCU and their All American RB Jim Swink, a team they beat 19-16. Unfortunately, the team was placed on two years probation for recruiting violations, missteps that were standard operating procedure for almost all of the SWC schools at that time. Interestingly, none of the A&M players were cited, only two former players. One, Tom Sestak, had traveled through A&M, Baylor, and McNeese State before having a productive AFL career with the Buffalo Bills. None of the Bryant "bottle babies" were implicated as having received illegal aid from alumni. In that turnaround season of 1955, the Ags lost their opener to 1954 National Champion UCLA but then began ripping through the schedule. Pardee averaged six yards per carry from FB. Crow, even after injuring a knee against TCU, was an awesome force and did everything on both sides of the ball. Stallings, Bobby Keith, Krueger, Stanley, Goehring, and Hale returned as starting linemen and were dominant in the conference. 1956 saw the Cadets maintain the same helmet that Bryant began his tenure with, the simple white shell with maroon center stripe but now it was feared throughout the southwest. The line returned almost intact and John David Crow was a bona fide All American candidate as were Pardee and Krueger. As the season progressed Roddy Osborne blossomed into an All Conference QB, while end John Tracey, center Lloyd Hale, guard Dennis Goehring, and Crow also made All SWC. Krueger and Pardee were named as All Americans and Texas A&M despite probation and the inability to go to the Cotton Bowl, were Southwest Conference Champions with a 9-0-1 record.

If interested in any of these Aggie helmets please click on the photos below.