John J. Jankowski '34 (Football, Basketball, Golf, Football Coach)
“Jan” Jankowski, for two seasons (1931-32) played in arguably the finest backfield in Catholic University football history. The right halfback teamed with fellow CUA Hall of Fames Buster Sheary (fullback) and Tommy Whelan (left halfback). When Jankowski graduated in 1934, the Cardinal yearbook said:
“For although an outstanding athlete during all four years of his college career, he is much more than that; he is a well-rounded, polished gentleman who has not cultivated sports to the detriment of his intellectual and moral progress.”
Jankowski came to CUA from St. Peter’s High School in Worcester, Mass., following in Sheary’s footsteps. He began by playing freshman football and basketball. In 1932, he was chosen captain of the school’s first golf team, and as a senior, was elected football captain.
“Briefly may we summarize our impression of him – a student, an athlete, a leader and one worthy of the title – gentleman,” the 1934 Cardinal said.
In his three years on the varsity football team (1931-33) under legendary coach Dutch Bergman, the Redbirds posted a record of 20-5-2 (.808). The 1931 club was 8-1 and stretched a school-record 11-game winning streak into the following season. The 1932 edition finished 6-1-1, giving up just 21 points and recording five shutouts. Jankowski caught a 30-yard touchdown pass in one of the biggest victories that year, a 19-0 win over Chattanooga. The Mocs were three-time reigning Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association champions.
Jankowski scored two TDs in the 1932 Cardinals’ season-opening 47-0 victory over CCNY. In a 14-6 win over Wake Forest, he scored the first TD on an 8-yard run and set up a fourth-quarter TD with a 15-yard jaunt to the 1. Defensively, according to CUA’s student newspaper, The Tower, Jankowski and Whelan “… displayed a fine pass defense when they repeatedly batted many Deacon passes to the ground …”
Jankowski also found the end zone in the 1933 season opener, a 37-6 rout of La Salle. He scored both TDs in a 12-0 victory over Wake Forest in Raleigh, N.C. Again, the 1934 Cardinal:
“To his power, drive and keen foresight may be attributed much of the glory of the Cardinal season.”
Jankowski also played basketball four years and golf two. He later coached the Cardinal football team for two seasons (1949-50).