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Henry Williams


Henry Lane Williams

Inducted 1951

Date of Birth



Hartford, CT


University of Minnesota (1901-1921)

United States Military Academy (1891-1891)


Henry Williams was the inventor of the famous tackle-back offense. In 1891, he used it to give Army its first-ever victory over archival Navy. This was an era when you were not required to have seven men on the line of scrimmage. Williams moved his tackles into the backfield for added blocking at the point of attack. Williams was a teacher at Siglar Academy in Newburgh, New York, ten miles north of West Point, when he began making twice-weekly trips to the Army campus in order to coach the Cadet varsity. His tackle-back offense was to pay off in huge fashion. Williams later enrolled in Penn's School of Medicine, paying his way while acting as football and track coach at William Penn Charter School. He then moved to Minnesota and began building outstanding Gopher teams, including his own Minnesota shift, the fore-runner of the Notre Dame shift made famous by Knute Rockne. Williams played football at Yale 1887-1890. He was on a team with Amos Alonzo Stagg, Bum McClung, Pa Corbin and Pudge Heffelfinger, all of whom made the Hall of Fame as players. He coached Army in 1891 with a 4-1-1 record, coached a prep school, Penn Charter, 1892-99, and coached Minnesota 1900-1921. His Minnesota record was 137-33-11. In his first 16 years Minnesota won eight conference championships. The teams of 1903-1905 had a 35 game unbeaten streak. The 1903 team was 14-0-1 and outscored opponents 618-12. The 1904 team went 13-0 and outscored opponents 725-12. While at Yale, Williams also was on the track team and set a world record in the 120-yard high hurdles. At Minnesota he served as director of athletics and instructor in the medical school. After he left coaching following the 1921 season, he practiced medicine full-time. He is a charter member of the College Football Hall of Fame.


Wins 141

Losses 34

Ties 12

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