clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

UT's Fred Bednarski: College Football Pioneer

When Fred Bednarski was five years old, he and his family were taken prisoners in their native Poland. It was 1942, and Bednarski's family would spend three years in a Nazi labor camp outside Salzburg, Austria.

After being liberated from the camp, and finding their way to the U.S., the Bednarski's moved to Smithville, TX. It was there that Fred Jr. blended the soccer skills he learned as a youngster in the labor camp into playing this strange American game called football.

It would eventually lead Bednarski to the University of Texas where, thanks to Darrell Royal, Bednarski kicked college football's first soccer-style field goal.

The boot came from 38 yards out and gave Texas a 3-0 lead against the #10 Razorbacks. The date was Oct. 19, 1957 and the Horns first-year coach decided to try to get on the scoreboard in a scoreless contest with this unusual soccer style kicker.

Bednarski had tried a 55-yard field goal against Oklahoma earlier in the season. As he sent him in, Royal told Bednarski, "If you miss, it'll be better than a punt, anyway."

Texas went on to defeat Arkansas 17-0. Bednarski, who was also fullback, didn't even play enough to letter in 1957 (he would letter in 1958), but he did find a place in college football history.