MSU top 50 football players: No. 41 John Pingel

This is the 10th in a 50-day summer series counting down the top players in Michigan State football history, as I see them. As with last year’s MSU basketball top 50, the criteria is performance and impact at MSU only, professional career irrelevant. Have your own opinion? Leave a comment or tweet at me @Graham_Couch.

No. 41 – John Pingel

Halfback / quarterback / punter, 1936-38, Mount Clemens

The skinny: Pingel is regarded as MSU’s first truly great player. It’s easy to see why. During his All-American season in 1938, Pingel rushed for 556 yards, averaging 5.5 yards per carry, and passed for 571 yards and seven touchdowns, completing 53 percent of his throws (a high percentage in those days). He also punted 99 times for what’s still an NCAA-record 4,138 yards, averaging 41.8 yards per punt.

In three seasons at MSU, Pingel rarely left the field, leading MSU to a 20-6-2 record and its first bowl appearance, the 1937 Orange Bowl, where his 23-yard pass accounted for one of MSU’s only two first downs in a 6-0 loss to Auburn. – Read more at

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