Sun Devil Summer School: The Stars of the 1950s - Bobby Mulgado

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By Brad Denny By Brad Denny

In today’s football, a “jack-of-all-trades” is typically player able to run and catch the ball—maybe with some special teams sprinkled in to boot. Perhaps also the term can include a defensive back with the ability to track stride-for-stride with speedy wideouts while also boasting the beef to stack the box and crash down on running backs.  Maybe even a surefooted dynamo able to kick field goals, PATs, kickoffs and also punt.

Somewhere in a recliner enjoying his twilight years, Bobby Mulgado reflects on his football career and laughs at the simplicity of today’s “iron men” compared to those of the 1950’s.
Arguably the most versatile player in program history, the McKeesport, Pa., native literally created an impact in every way for Arizona State College.
Mulgado formed a sensational one-two ground game punch with Leon Burton from 1955-57, and in 1956 Mulgado had a team-best 755 rushing yards on 107 carries with eight total touchdowns. He followed that up with 681 rushing yards and eight scores as a senior beside Burton, with whom Mulgado combined for over 1,800 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns on the ground in 1957. Also that season, Mulgado hauled in a team-best six interceptions on defense. Additionally as a senior in 1957, Mulgado caught 16 passes for 339 yards and threw two touchdown passes on his way to All-Border Conference accolades.
The definitive “specialist”, Mulgado was the nation’s leader with a 19.1 yard-average on punt returns in 1957 with two touchdowns, while he also starred in the kicking game, leading ASU in punting in 1955-57 and kicked field goals and extra points as a senior.
In all, Mulgado, a team captain as a senior alongside yesterday’s subject Clancy Osborne, totaled 93 points in 1957, second nationally only to his teammate Burton.
Mulgado’s do-it-all skill set helped push the Devils to what at the time was the best season in school history as ASC compiled a perfect 10-0 record in head coach Dan Devine’s third and final year in Tempe.  The flawless slate enabled the Sun Devils to claim the Border Conference Championship and ASC also earned its first ever final season poll ranking, coming in at 12th in both the Associated Press and Coaches Polls.
At the conclusion of his college career, Mulgado totaled 2,003 rushing yards with 21 touchdowns, ranking him second in school history at the time only behind legendary Wilford “Whizzer” White.  His number was retired the Sun Devil football program the season after his college playing career completed and to this day Mulgado remains one of only 17 players in school history to have surpassed 2,000 career rushing yards.
After his time in Tempe, Mulgado was picked up as a free agent by the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the Canadian Football League before being selected in the fifth round of the 1959 NFL Draft by Philadelphia. In addition to his time with the Roughriders, Mulgado also played for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the CFL.
Mulgado was inducted into ASU’s Sports Hall of fame in 1997 and in 2011 he was one of nine inaugural members of ASU’s football Ring of Honor.