Former Spartan All-American Don McAuliffe Passes Away
EAST LANSING, Mich. – Former Michigan State All-American Don McAuliffe, who was the captain of the 1952 National Championship team, passed away on Saturday, July 14 in La Jolla, California. He was 90 (1927-2018).
A three-year letterwinner (1950-52) under Hall of Fame Coach Clarence “Biggie” Munn, McAuliffe earned first-team All-America honors as a halfback his senior season in 1952 as Michigan State went 9-0 and claimed its second straight National Championship.
McAuliffe, who ranked eighth in the Heisman Trophy voting in 1952, tied for the top spot on the team with nine total touchdowns while ranking second with 531 rushing yards on 98 attempts (5.4 avg.). In addition, he tied for the team lead with seven rushing touchdowns, and also had eight catches for 194 yards and two TD receptions. One of his biggest plays came against Michigan when he rambled 70 yards for a score just after the Wolverines had taken a 13-0 lead. The run was the turning point in a 27-13 win for MSU.
For helping lead Michigan State to a final No. 1 ranking by The Associated Press and United Press International, McAuliffe was awarded the Washington, D.C. Touchdown Club’s Walter Camp trophy by then-Speaker of the House Sam Rayburn. McAuliffe also presented footballs to President Dwight D. Eisenhower and host Ed Sullivan on the Ed Sullivan TV show and was featured on the cover of Colliers Magazine.
On MSU’s 1951 National Championship team that also posted a perfect 9-0 record, McAuliffe led the Spartans in rushing (566 yards), rushing TDs (9), carries (124) and scoring (54 points). He also caught seven passes for 107 yards. McAuliffe rushed for a career-high 150 yards on 16 carries against Colorado in the 1951 season finale in Spartan Stadium to cap an undefeated season.
A native of Chicago, McAuliffe closed out his career with 1,180 yards on the ground and 20 total TDs, then No. 2 on the school’s all-time list. He was invited to several all-star games following his 1952 All-America season, including the Senior Bowl, East-West Shrine Game, and the College All-Star Game at Soldier Field. The Spartans posted a combined 26-1 record during McAuliffe’s three seasons (1950-52).
Prior to attending Michigan State, McAuliffe spent one year at the U.S. Naval Academy.
McAuliffe was selected in the 28th round of the 1950 NFL Draft (No. 358 overall) by the New York Giants, but played three seasons at Michigan State.
McAuliffe was inducted into the Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame in 1998.
A family memorial service is planned in the future.