All-American running back Fred Wendt, who set UTEP records with 326 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns versus New Mexico State on November 25, 1948, has passed away.
Wendt died on Monday (May 18), just two months shy of his 96th birthday. He was born on July 15, 1924 in Las Cruces.
He attended school in Lubbock and Amarillo before moving to El Paso in 1938. He graduated from Austin High School in 1942 before entering Texas College of Mines (now UTEP). Wendt played for the Miners in 1942 and from 1946-48, sandwiched around a stint in the Army during World War II. He lettered in track and football at Texas College of Mines.
Wendt’s college football career produced 283 carries for 2,166 yards and 23 touchdowns. He ranks first in the Miner record book in yards per attempt (7.65), sixth in rushing touchdowns, and 10th in rushing yards.
Wendt rushed for 1,546 yards, the third-top seasonal output in school history, in 1948, while also setting the school standard with 20 rushing scores. He rushed for 100+ yards eight times in a Miner uniform.
Upon graduation he held the NCAA record for single-season rushing yards, single-season scoring (152 points), single-game rushing (326 vs. NMSU) and single-game scoring (42 vs. NMSU).
He is one of only two Miners to rush for 300 yards in a game, alongside current Green Bay Packers star Aaron Jones, who achieved the feat with 301 yards versus North Texas in 2016.
Wendt’s record-breaking performance versus New Mexico State in 1948 resulted in a 92-7 Miner victory. UTEP team records for points, touchdowns (14) and rushing yards (645) were established in that game and still stand to this day.
Wendt was also the Miners’ leading punter during the 1946, 1947 and 1948 seasons.
A two-time All-American (1947 and 1948), Wendt was inducted into the UTEP Athletics Hall of Fame in 2005. He is also a member of the El Paso Athletic Hall of Fame. In 2008, he was chosen as a member of the 75th Anniversary All Sun Bowl Team. He rushed for a game-high 92 yards on 15 carries in the 1949 Sun Bowl Game versus West Virginia.
Wendt is survived by his wife of 70 years, Dorris, three daughters, and numerous grandchildren and great grandchildren.