Bob Reinhart, the 1956 national college football leader in passer efficiency rating and the first San Jose State quarterback to be selected in a National Football League (NFL) Draft, died at age 83 on March 19 in San Clemente, Calif.
Mr. Reinhart was a quarterback and punter on the 1953 and 1956 San Jose State football teams. A transfer from Glendale College, he was a back-up on the 1953 Spartan team that included future Super Bowl winning coach and Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee Bill Walsh. Mr. Reinhart returned to San Jose State in 1956 after being stationed at nearby Fort Ord, Calif., for two years (1954-56). He would be a teammate of Dick Vermeil, San Jose State’s second Super Bowl winning coach, in his final season. Mr. Reinhart is one of three Spartans who were teammates of San Jose State’s two Super Bowl winning coaches.
The Long Beach, Calif., native was a strapping 6-foot-3, 205-pound college football player. Andrea Schenker and Nina Brubaker, his daughters, described him as a passionate, self-taught quarterback. One of Mr. Reinhart’s teammates, running back Joe Barrington, viewed him as perceptive and courageous on the playing field.
Mr. Reinhart would be San Jose State’s number-one quarterback in 1956. He would team with the late Art Powell (1937-2015) to form college football’s top quarterback-receiver combo that season. Mr. Reinhart completed 90 passes for 1,138 yards and 10 touchdowns and had the highest quarterback efficiency rating of 121.3 for players with at least 15 passing attempts per game played according to the 2015 NCAA Division I Football Records Book. Mr. Powell led all college football players with 40 receptions for 583 yards and five touchdowns.
Mr. Reinhart completed more passes that season than quarterbacks Paul Hornung, the 1956 Heisman Trophy winner from the University of Notre Dame, two-time Super Bowl winning coach Tom Flores of the University of the Pacific, College Football Hall of Famer Joe Kapp of the University of California and Pro Football Hall of Famer Len Dawson of Purdue University.
Dawson would be the number-one target of legendary Pro Football Hall of Fame head coach Paul Brown of the Cleveland Browns. After the Pittsburgh Steelers used its first pick of the 1957 NFL Draft on Dawson, Brown would select future all-time great Jim Brown of Syracuse University and five quarterbacks in hopes of returning the franchise to championship status. Mr. Reinhart was one of those quarterbacks as the Browns’ 10th round draft choice and the Draft’s 114th overall selection. In today’s game, the 114th selection would be equivalent to a fourth-round pick.
Mr. Reinhart decided to follow Mr. Powell to the Canadian Football League (CFL). His pro football career with the Toronto Argonauts was short-lived due to a preseason shoulder injury. Mr. Powell would go on to play in the CFL for the Montreal Alouettes, the NFL and starred in the 1960’s for the Oakland Raiders of the American Football League.
Mr. Reinhart would go on to a lengthy career in the roofing industry. He was a designer of roof shingles for Johns Manville and later became a roofing products salesman.
His daughters also said their dad was a history buff who loved reading. Winston Churchill was one of his most admired statesmen. Mr. Reinhart was an accomplished water colorist who would occasionally donate selected original paintings to local non-profits for fund raising projects. Surfing and biking were two more of his favorite activities.
Mr. Reinhart’s survivors include his daughters, Andrea Schenker (son-in-law, Eric) and Nina Brubaker (son-in-law, David), and four grandchildren.
Services for Mr. Reinhart are pending.