Kansas State football announces death of Wildcats first-round pick, ex-Packers

Former Kansas State football halfback Veryl Switzer died Saturday at the age of 89, the school announced. Switzer was a founding member of the K-State Athletics Hall of Fame in 1990 and the K-State Football Ring of Honor in 2002.

“Today is a sad day for Kansas State University,” K-State athletic director Gene Taylor said in a statement from the university.. “Veryl was one of the most influential and impactful K-Staters of our lifetime and helped pave the way for so many others to follow in his footsteps. He will forever be remembered as a true trailblazer as we keep his family and friends in our thoughts and prayers.”

Switzer, who played soccer at K-State in the early 1950s, made history as the first black man scholarship player to graduate from college in 1954. He was an All-American for the Wildcats for three consecutive seasons from 1951 to 1953 and is considered one of the most complete players in school history. Switzer was the team’s top rusher in 1952 and 1953 and still ranks statistically as one of the most productive returners in program history.

Switzer became the No. 4 overall pick of the Green Bay Packers in the 1954 NFL Draft and still holds the designation of K-State’s highest-drafted player in the history of the event. His NFL career only lasted two seasons before entering the The US Air Force as a first lieutenant in 1956. He returned to football in 1958, this time with the CFL, as he spent two years with the Calgary Stampeders and Montreal Alouettes.

Switzer returned to K-State as an administrator in 1969, developing the school’s first college program for minority students. He then received one of the nation’s comprehensive federal programs for minority student support.

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Switzer’s success as an athlete has extended beyond football. He was also the 1952 Big Seven indoor long jump champion and was entered in track and field three times while at K-State.

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