(Born April 18, 1926). Wallace Triplett was the son of a postal worker and a outstanding football player. His outstanding play in high school as well as the upscale nature of suburb he resided in caused the University of Miami to offer Triplett a scholarship under the impression that he was white. When the Miami discovered that Triplett was in fact black, they rescinded their scholarship offer prompting Triplett to attend Penn State University in the fall of 1945. During the 1946 season, the Nittany Lions had a scheduled regular season game against the University of Miami who like many colleges in the south at the time, refused to play integrated schools unless their black players were left at home. Taking this matter to a vote, the team decided to cancel the game rather than compromise by leaving their black players at home. In 1948, Triplett became the first African American to play in the Cotton Bowl Classic, catching the tying touchdown pass in a 13-13 tie with Southern Methodist University. It is also thought that Penn State’s famous “We are Penn State” cheer originated during a request by SMU for a meeting to protest the participation of Penn State’s two black players.
Triplett went on to the 1949 NFL Draft becoming the third African American selected but the first to play in a league game playing for the Detroit Lions. In 1950, Triplett was drafted into service for the Korean War and upon his return was traded to the Chicago Cardinals. He retired from professional football in 1953.