Hall of Fame - Inductee Detail

Willie Heston

Willie Heston


  • Position: Halfback
  • School: San Jose State, Michigan
  • High School: Grant's Pass, OR (Grant's Pass HS)
  • Years: 1898-1904
  • Inducted: 1954
  • Place of Birth: Galesburg, IL
  • Date of Birth: Sep 09, 1878
  • Place of Death: Traverse City, MI
  • Date of Death: Sep 09, 1963
  • Height: 5-8
  • Weight: 190

Member Biography

William M. "Willie" Heston was born September 9, 1878, on a farm at Galesburg, Illinois. His family moved to Grants Pass, Oregon, and he finished high school there. Willie then enrolled at San Jose Normal College - now San Jose State University. He was on the San Jose football team in 1898, 1899, and 1900. At San Jose State he played against a Stanford team coached by Fielding Yost in 1900. Yost moved to Michigan in 1901, and he encouraged Heston to join him and study law. Heston was a star on the Michigan teams 1901-1904. Those teams posted records of 11-0, 11-0, 11-0-1, 10-0, a total of 43-0-1. In scoring each year, Michigan went 550-0, 644-12, 565-6, 577-22: totals, 2,326-40. These were called the "Point-a-Minute" teams. Heston stood 5-8, weighed 190, and was a 10-flat sprinter in the 100-yard dash. Walter Camp named him on his third All-America team at halfback in 1901- 02 and on his first team 1903-04. When Michigan beat Stanford 49-0 in the Rose Bowl January 1, 1902, Heston, a freshman, did not score a touchdown but gained 170 yards on 18 rushes. School records show Heston's touchdowns for his four years - 20, 15, 15, 21; total, 71. In 1974, the Football Writers Association named him at halfback for the all-time team for the period 1869-1919. Heston coached Drake in 1905 (record: 4-4) and North Carolina State in 1906 (record: 3-2-4). He tried pro football with the Canton Bulldogs and suffered a broken leg playing against Massillon in his first game. Heston practiced law in Detroit and was Wayne County assistant prosecutor 1911-16 and county recorder 1917-23. Until he was 75, he ran a half-mile every morning for conditioning. Two sons, William Jr. and John, lettered in football at Michigan in the early 1930s. Willie Heston died on his 85th birthday September 9, 1963 at Traverse City, Michigan.