2022 Army-Navy game Dec 10, 2022; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Cadets and Midshipmen from West Point and Annapolis conduct a prisoner exchange before the first half of the 123rd Army-Navy game at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Danny Wild-USA Today Sports

This time of year, the college football world is often focused on conference championships, the College Football Playoff, and bowl games. But the last regular-season college football game of the season, the annual game between the Army Black Knights and Navy Midshipmen is also very worthy of your attention and consideration.

Regardless of the records, fans look forward to this game every season because of the tradition and pageantry. While it’s been a long time since this game had national championship implications, it’s a series full of all-time greats, All-Americans, champions, and national heroes. Some of the biggest names in college football have played for both academies, with some going on to play in the NFL and most going on to serve the country.

We are here to honor some of the greatest players who ever put on a Navy or Army uniform and our list is full of Heisman Trophy winners and All-Americans. Here are the 10 best to ever put on either uniform.

Andre Carter II
Army Black Knights outside linebacker Andre Carter II (34). Credit: Danny Wild-USA Today Sports

Andre Carter II (Army defensive end)

Andre Carter II has a unique story. He is a Texas native who didn’t even play during his freshman year with the Army Black Knights. But once he did, he took the team by storm. In 2021, he garnered 15.5 sacks, the most in academy history and second in the nation. He also racked up 18.5 tackles for loss and four forced fumbles en route to becoming Army’s first AP All-American (third-team) since 1990. He finished his Army career with 20.0 career sacks, second most in academy history. Only the second Army player to participate in the Senior Bowl, he currently plays for the Minnesota Vikings.

Navy Midshipmen quarterback Keenan Reynolds (19) runs for a touchdown during the first quarter against the Pittsburgh Panthers at Navy-Marine Corps. Stadium.
Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Keenan Reynolds (Navy quarterback)

Keenan Reynolds was one of the best quarterbacks and athletes to come out of the Naval Academy. Reynolds holds several NCAA records, including most career rushing yards by a quarterback (4,559), most career rushing touchdowns (88), and most rushing touchdowns by a quarterback in a game (7). Back in 2015, He won AAC Player of the Year, was named a third-team All-American, and was named first-team All-AAC. Reynolds was also a serious contender for the Heisman Trophy that year. He had a brief career in the NFL as a wide receiver but now works as a college football analyst for CBS Sports.

Joe Bellino (Navy halfback)

Joey Bellino, known as the “Winchester Rifle,” was the Naval Academy’s first Heisman Trophy winner, claiming the award in 1960. In his senior year, he rushed for 834 yards, caught 15 passes for 264 yards and three touchdowns, threw two touchdown passes, averaged 47.1 yards as a punter, and returned kicks. He won the Heisman by the largest margin in the trophy’s history that season. He also was a unanimous All-American, Maxwell Award winner, and was named the United Press International’s Player of the Year. Bellino, who is also a member of the College Football Hall of Fame, served 28 years in the Navy and retired as a captain.

Napoleon McCallum (Navy halfback)

Coming out of high school, Napoleon McCallum was one of the best running backs in the country. He received offers from schools like North Carolina State, Syracuse, and Tennessee, but he chose the Naval Academy because, unlike those other schools that wanted him to play defense, the Navy wanted him to play running back. When you see his stats, you understand why. McCallum was a two-time consensus All-American and set an NCAA record with 7,172 career all-purpose yards. He was also the all-time rushing leader at Navy with 4,179 yards until that record was broken by Keenan Reynolds. McCallum went on to play several years for the Los Angeles Raiders. His No. 30 was retired by the academy and he is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame.

Former West Point Heisman Trophy Award-winner and 1958 All-American player Pete Dawkins celebrates Army's 17-14 win over Air Force at Michie Stadium.
Credit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

Pete Dawkins (Army halfback)

Pete Dawkins was the third player in the Army’s history to win the Heisman Trophy. He won the award in 1958, joining Glen Davis and Doc Blanchard as Golden Knights who received that honor. Dawkins was also an All-American and Maxwell Award winner. In his career with the Army, he rushed for over 1,100 yards and 16 touchdowns. After his football career, Hawkins was named a Rhodes Scholar and earned master’s degrees from both Oxford and Princeton, while also receiving a Bronze Star for valor in service during the Vietnam War. He retired in 1983 as a Brigadier General and is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame.

Glen Davis (Army halfback)

Glen Davis and Doc Blanchard were known as Mr. Inside and Mr. Outside for Army in the 1940s. Playing for one of the few college football teams to ever win three consecutive national championships (1944-1946), Davis won the Heisman Trophy, was a three-time All-American, was named AP’s Athlete of the Year, and won the Maxwell Award. In 1946, he rushed for 712 yards and 13 touchdowns, caught 20 passes for 348 yards, and passed for 396 yards and four touchdowns. He graduated as Army’s all-time leading rusher with 2,957 yards and still holds the NCAA record for most yards gained per carry in a career (8.3). The multi-sport athlete would later become a member of the College Football Hall of Fame.

Doc Blanchard (Army fullback)

While Glen Davis was Mr. Outside, Doc Blanchard was Mr. Inside. A year before Davis won the Heisman, Blanchard won one of his own. Along with winning the Maxwell Award in 1945 as well, Blanchard was a three-time All-American. In his three years playing for Army, Blanchard scored 38 touchdowns and gained 1,908 yards as the academy went 27–0–1. Despite being selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers, Blanchard instead joined the Air Force and was a  fighter pilot until 1971 when he retired. He flew 113 missions during the Vietnam War.

Navy Midshipmen quarterback Roger Staubach (12) looks to throw against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Notre Dame Stadium during the 1963 season.
Credit: Malcolm Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Roger Staubach (Navy quarterback) 

Perhaps the most famous and successful former military player of all time is Roger Staubach. Staubach won the Heisman Trophy in 1963, becoming the second (and last) Heisman winner for the Navy Midshipmen. He was also a Maxwell Award winner, a unanimous All-American, and also won several Player of the Year awards that season. Staubach was known as a runner and a passer, succeeding at both. In his Heisman season, the quarterback passed for over 1,400 yards and seven touchdowns. He ended his career at Navy with over 4,200 combined offensive yards. Like most of the men on this list, Staubach would serve some time in the military, but he eventually joined the Dallas Cowboys where he would become a star and two-time Super Bowl champion. He is a member of both the College Football and Pro Football Hall of Fame.

About Stacey Mickles

Stacey is a 1995 graduate of the University of Alabama who has previously worked for other publications such as Sportskeeda and Saturday Down South.