When Chris Banjo joined the Packers in 2013, he was the first player from Southern Methodist to play for Green Bay in more than a quarter of a century, since replacement players Putt Choate, Perry Hartnett and Don King in the 1987 strike season. However, there was a stretch in the 1950s and 1960s when the Dallas university sent several players to City Stadium, including a few All Pros.
In 1953, two SMU players joined the Packers as rookies, Bill Forester and Val Joe Walker. Although Walker had a brief career in Green Bay, he was an All-League quality safety. Forester, of course, had an 11-year career, mostly at linebacker, for the Packers and was All-Pro numerous times.
A year later, two more future Packers graduated from SMU. Halfback Don Miller played for Green Bay in 1954, while defensive back Jerry Norton spent nine years with the Eagles, Cardinals and Cowboys before finishing his career as the Packers’ punter from 1963-64.
In 1955, two Mustangs who were sophomores when Forester and Walker were seniors joined the NFL: Doyle Nix who started at cornerback as a rookie in his only year in Green Bay and the Hall of Fame opponent pictured below.
Four Mustangs who were freshmen during Forester and Walker’s senior year and went on to have an impact on the Packers graduated in 1956. Hall of Fame tackle Forrest Gregg had a 14-year career in green and gold. Halfback Don McIlhenny came to the Packers from Detroit in the 1957 Tobin Rote trade and spent three seasons with the Packers before being drafted by Dallas in the 1960 expansion draft. Quarterback John Roach came into the league with the Cardinal and was obtained by the Packers in 1961 to back up Bart Starr; he finished his career with the Cowboys in 1964. Finally, there’s another Hall of Fame opponent from that class depicted below.
Custom Card Notes: Forester and Walker are 1953 Bowman style; Walker is colorized. Miller is 1954 Bowman and Norton 1963 Topps; both colorized. Nix is 1955 Bowman and colorized. Gregg is 1956 Topps, McIlhenny 1957 Topps and Roach 1961 Fleer; Gregg and McIlhenny are colorized. Hall of Fame opponents are from the 1955 SMU Yearbook and are of Raymond Berry and Lamar Hunt.