Erwin T. Prasse (December 1, 1917 in Chicago, Illinois – June 18, 2005) was a college football player for the University of Iowa. He was a second team All-American and the captain of Iowa’s 1939 “Ironmen” team.
Prasse graduated from Schurz High School in Chicago, Illinois. He played the end position in football. Iowa struggled in his first two varsity football seasons, compiling a 2-13-1 record in 1937 and 1938. Prasse was an All-Big Ten selection as a junior in 1938, and he was elected captain of the Hawkeye football squad for 1939 over teammate Nile Kinnick.
The 1939 seasonEdit
In Iowa’s Big Ten conference opener in 1939, Prasse set an Iowa Stadium record by catching three touchdown passes from Kinnick in a 32-29 victory. His third and final touchdown catch came on fourth down with only minutes remaining in the game. His three touchdown catches remained a Kinnick Stadium record until 2005, when Ed Hinkel caught four touchdowns in a game against Minnesota.
The 1939 Hawkeyes were nicknamed the “Ironmen”, because several players were forced to play all 60 minutes of many games. Prasse was one of those Ironmen; he played all sixty minutes of each of Iowa’s last five games in 1939. The Hawkeyes finished the year with a 6-1-1 record and were ranked ninth in the country. While Prasse’s teammate, Nile Kinnick, won the Heisman Trophy, Prasse was named a second team All-American in 1939.
Prasse was also a talented basketball and baseball player. He earned nine varsity letters at Iowa, and he played both basketball and baseball professionally. He played three seasons for the Oshkosh All-Stars of the National Basketball League, a forerunner to today’s NBA, winning an NBL championship with them in 1941. He also played minor league baseball in the St. Louis Cardinals organization.
During World War II, Prasse became an officer in the United States Army. He landed on Omaha Beach on D-Day and was later shot in the arm while on reconnaissance in Germany. That injury earned him the Purple Heart from the Army. He then retired from sports and returned to private life after the war.
Prasse was inducted into the University of Iowa Athletics Hall of Fame in its first year in 1989. In 1989, Iowa fans selected an all-time University of Iowa football team during the 100th anniversary celebration of Iowa football, and Prasse was an honorable mention selection.