RUSK, Texas (AP) — Jim Swink, a star TCU running back and College Football Hall of Fame inductee who bypassed a professional football career to become a doctor, died Wednesday. He was 78.
Swink died at his home in Rusk on Wednesday afternoon because of complications of lymphoma, said his wife, Jeanie Swink.
The 6-foot-1, 180-pound “Rusk Rambler” was the nation’s leading scorer and second-leading rusher in his junior year with the Horned Frogs in 1955, scoring 125 points and carrying for 1,283 yards, according to the College Football Hall of Fame website.
His best game came during TCU’s epic encounter with archrival Texas in 1955. Swink ran for 235 yards on just 15 carries for a 15.7 yard per carry average and scored a school-record 26 points as the Horned Frogs romped past the Longhorns in Austin, 47-20.
That season, he finished second to Ohio State’s Howard “Hopalong” Cassady in the Heisman Trophy voting.
TCU athletic director Chris Del Conte called Swink “a true TCU legend and one of the faces of our proud football tradition. He defined the Horned Frog factor. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.”
The two-time All-America halfback was taken by the NFL’s Chicago Bears in the second round of the 1957 draft, but Swink chose instead to enter medical school.
He signed with the AFL’s Dallas Texans (now the Kansas City Chiefs) in 1960, gaining 15 yards on five carries, catching four passes for 37 yards and returning one kick for 36 yards in just five games before quitting football for good.
Serving in the U.S. Army from 1966-68, Swink was a surgeon at the 12th Evacuation Hospital in Ku Chi, South Vietnam, during the Vietnam War, about 40 miles from Saigon. He was awarded a Purple Heart, Air Medal and Bronze Star.
He returned to Fort Worth and set up an orthopedic surgery practice in 1971 and was elected into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1980.
In 2007, he and his wife returned to his hometown of Rusk and practiced medicine there until he became ill, Jeanie Swink said.
“He lived the life he wanted to,” she said.