EVANS, RAY R.
Hometown: Kansas City, KS (Wyandotte HS)
1942: Starter, All Big 6, All-American
1943: Starter, All Big 6, All-American
1946: Played last part of season after being discharged from military service.
Football player: QB/HB, All Big 6 in '42 and '47, All-American in '47.
Ray Evans’ accomplishments as a Jayhawk athlete would fill a large scrapbook. He holds the distinctive honor of being named All-American in both football and basketball (twice).
After a stellar high school career in basketball and football at Wyandotte High School in Kansas City, Evans enrolled at Kansas University and was named a basketball All-American his first two years. In 1942, Evans teamed with All-Americans Charlie Black and Ralph Miller, leading KU to a 17-5 record and a first place tie in the Big Six. The following year, Evans and Black teamed with Otto Schnellbacher to take KU to a 22-6 record, undefeated in the Big Six.
On the gridiron in 1942, he led the nation in passing for 1,117 yards and once owned the NCAA record for 60 passes attempted without an interception. His KU record of 3,799 yards of total offense stood for over 20 years.
His collegiate career was interrupted by World War II, when he joined the Air Force. He returned to Kansas late in the 1946 season after being discharged, helping the Jayhawk cagers to a 19-2 record, a Big Six conference title and an NCAA tourney appearance. He played the full season in 1947, along with Black and Schnellbacher, but it was a tough season, with coach Allen out for much of the season with influenza.
He helped lead Kansas to a pair of Big Six football championships in 1946 and 1947. In 1947 he ran and passed for 1,018 years, was named All-American, and was the star of the 1948 Orange Bowl. He also played hellacious defense as a two-way performer.
After being selected in the first round of the NFL draft, he played one professional season with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He was inducted into the Orange Bowl Hall of Honor in 1978, the Helms Foundation College Hall of Fame, the Helms Foundation College Basketball Hall of Fame, the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame and the University of Kansas Athletic Hall of Fame.
He later worked at Traders National Bank in Kansas City, where he served as President until he retired in 1975. While there, he was instrumental in bringing the Kansas City Chiefs to Kansas City and served as first president of the Chiefs Club. He also was a member of the Kansas State Board of Regents for 12 years and president of KU’s Alumni Association 1952-53.
The Ray Evans trophy was established in 1968 to honor a member of each current Jayhawk football team whose all-around excellence on and off the field best exemplifies the traits of the former KU star. KU’s football players practice on the ‘Ray Evans Field’ in Anschutz Pavilion. His son Ray Darby Evans was a defensive back for the KU football team in 1981.
Ray was on hand at Allen Fieldhouse on February 22, 1997 to see his #15 jersey hung in the rafters of Allen Fieldhouse in front of 16,300 appreciative fans. “When I go to the games,” Evans quipped, “I always look to the right and see the ‘Beware of the Phog’ banner. Now I’ll have to look to the left, also.” His gridiron number 42 was also retired in the late 40’s.
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