Jack McDowall
Sport(s)Football, basketball, baseball, track and field
Biographical details
Born(1905-06-26)June 26, 1905
Micanopy, Florida
DiedMay 25, 1969(1969-05-25) (aged 63)
Winter Park, Florida
Playing career
Position(s)Halfback, quarterback
Accomplishments and honors
1 SoCon (as player, 1927)
1 SIAA (as coach, 1940)
All-Southern (1927)
SoCon high jump record 1925-1931
NC State Athletic Hall of Fame
2x Norris Cup recipient (1925, 1926)
College Football Hall of Fame
Inducted in 1975 (profile)

John Witherspoon McDowall (June 26, 1905 – May 25, 1969) known as "Spindle Legs" was an American football, baseball, basketball player and track athlete at North Carolina State University. McDowall was recognized as an All-Southern football player in 1927. He was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1975 - becoming the first player from NC State to be inducted.

Early yearsEdit

Jack McDowall was born on June 26, 1905 in Micanopy, Florida to J. W. McDowall and M. D. Younglove.[1] Jack played high school ball in Gainesville, Florida then at Rockingham HS in North Carolina. He took both schools to appearances in the state championship game. After having starred at Gainesville, he was deemed too small to ever get a scholarship to the University of Florida even though he was some 6 feet 1 inch tall. At a Gainesville pool hall J.B. "Shorty" Lawrence, a Floridian coaching in NC, walked in and offered him the chance to play at Rockingham for $25 a week, eventually leading to his chance to play for NC State.[2]

NC StateEdit

McDowall won 11 letters at A&M. He was named the top athlete in the first half-century of NC State Athletics.[3][4] McDowall is the only man to twice win the Norris Cup, and once held the North Carolina state record in the high jump.[5] McDowall is the only man to twice win the Norris Cup, and once held the North Carolina state record in the high jump.[5]


He is best known as North Carolina State's first All-Southern running back, and its first inductee to the College Football Hall of Fame.


He once ran for an 80-yard touchdown against Richmond.[3]


He led the Wolfpack to a 9–1 mark and a Southern Conference championship in 1927 under coach Gus Tebell. McDowall threw for 14 of the Wolfpack's 31 touchdowns. In the 12 to 6 win in Tampa over his hometown Florida Gators, he ran 75 yards for a touchdown after intercepting the ball off a Gator's hands.[6] The season closed with a convincing defeat of Michigan State. He was selected to play on an All-Southern team which beat an All-Pacific Coast team on Christmas Day in Los Angeles.[7] Georgia Tech coach Bill Alexander said of McDowall, "I have talked with a number of persons who know football well and that have seen McDowall play. They all say he is a wonder at running and passing. We expect much of him when we go to the Pacific Coast for the Christmas charity game."[8]



He was also captain of the basketball team in 1928.

Coaching careerEdit

He later coached at Asheville High School, and was athletic director of Rollins College in his native state of Florida for 29 years.[9][10]


In 1952, he successfully ran as a Democrat for Orange County commissioner on a platform consisting of pro-business administration, better roads, country beautification, the Sports Fishermen's Program, and conservation. Re-elected in 1956, McDowall held the position until 1960.[4]


McDowall completed a master's degree in psychology at Duke University.[11]

One description of Jack goes as follows: "He wears spectacles, is wiry of build and has been described as looking more like a minister than a football player."[7]


  1. Who's Who In American Sports.
  2. Tim Peeler (May 2014). "Jack McDowall Was A Multi-Sport Standout In The 1920s". The Wolfpacker: 86. Retrieved January 25, 2015.
  3. 3.0 3.1 "NC State's 2014 Hall of Fame Class: Jack McDowall". August 14, 2014.
  4. 4.0 4.1 "John Witherspoon McDowall".
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Jack McDowell Gets Rollins College Job". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. June 23, 1929.,5271843.
  6. T. A. Vernon (October 28, 1927). "State Wolves Invade Florida and Win 12-6". The Technician: p. 3.
  7. 7.0 7.1 "Jack McDowall Wins Praise For Sensational Grid Play". St. Petersburg Times. December 23, 1927.,7166962.
  8. "Jack McDowall All Praises By Georgia Tech Coach". The Technician. December 3, 1927.
  9. "Jack McDowell".
  10. "All American Player Is Given Coach Job". Altoona Mirror: p. 17. July 24, 1929. Retrieved March 13, 2015. open access
  11. "Rollins Grid Mentor Faces Tough Season". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. September 20, 1934.,6103753.

External linksEdit

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