Through the years, an SMU player has been honored as a member of the All-America Team. Players such as Bobby Wilson, Doak Walker, Don Meredith, and Eric Dickerson have received the honor. But before any of these men stepped on to the field as a Mustang, a lineman named "Choc" Sanders was the very first SMU player to be named an All-American in 1928. For being named SMU's first All-American, Choc has earned his place as a part of the 90 Greatest Moments in SMU Football History.
Henry J. "Choc" Sanders grew up on a farm outside of Garland and attended Garland Schools. He officially competed for Garland High School from 1919 until 1922, when Garland first became known as the Owls. During that time, the teams of which he was a member compiled a record of 20-6-3. This particular won-loss figure is noteworthy because Garland High School had one of the smallest enrollments of any school in the Dallas area, and yet many of the games were played against schools with larger enrollments, sometimes four times their size. Known for his abilities as a runner, passer, kicker and defender, and highly respected by his fellow athletes, Choc was elected captain of his team at Garland.
After graduating from Garland, Choc spent the next couple of years working on the family farm to help them make ends meet. However, he stayed in top physical condition because he planned to go to college and continue playing football. In 1926, he attended Wesley Junior College in Greenville and was the captain of their football team. Then, in 1927, Choc enrolled at SMU to play for Coach Ray Morrison's Mustangs. Morrison was impressed with Choc's size and agility, something Morrison wanted on his offensive line. Over the next three seasons, Choc became one of the most dominant guards in all of football.
Following the 1928 season, Choc was named to the All-Southwest Conference team. Soon after being honored by the SWC, Choc received national praise. He was voted first-team All-American by the New York Sun, The Post, New York Journal, Jim Thorpe and Boston Record. He became the first All-American selection for SMU as well as the first All-American to come out of the Southwest Conference. The following season, he was named the captain of the Mustangs and was All-SWC for the second year in a row. In his three years on the Hilltop, Choc helped lead the Mustangs to a record of 19-5-5.
There is an old saying that "they don't make them like they used to." In the case of Choc Sanders, this saying has never been truer. We honor Choc and his being named SMU's first All-American by placing him on our list of the 90 Greatest Moments in SMU Football History.