UT Athletics Honors Bronson, Johnson With Locker Room Dedication

Saturday, August 18, 2007 - by by special report to The Chattanoogan

KNOXVILLE -- The University of Tennessee Athletics Department recognized two former Vol gridiron greats Friday by naming the football locker room inside the Neyland-Thompson Sports Center in honor of Tommy Bronson and Bill Johnson.

“Tommy and Bill have helped build the foundation that makes Tennessee football what it is today,” head coach Phillip Fulmer said during the midday ceremony. “The Bronson-Johnson Locker Room will serve as an inspiration for the young men that enter this locker room each day. I am honored to have their names forever associated with Tennessee football.”

A large gathering of friends and family, including five shared grandchildren, were on hand along with numerous athletics department employees. Johnson recognized UT staff members and former teammates who have influenced or befriended him over the years, while Bronson challenged the senior football players in attendance to grasp the opportunities presented by playing for the University of Tennessee.

As members of the 1955-57 teams, Bronson and Johnson helped lead Tennessee to a 24-7-1 record, a 3-0 record versus Alabama, two bowl appearances, an SEC championship and a No. 2 ranking in 1956. After their playing days, they have been loyal supporters and leaders of the university and the athletics program.

Bronson, a native of Gainesville, Fla., played fullback and defensive halfback for the Vols, starting 31 games in his career. In addition, Bronson served as the 1958 UT senior class president. He earned his degree in business administration and entered the Army following graduation. Bronson went on to a successful career in the construction materials industry, serving as president and CEO of several major corporations. He continues to demonstrate the Volunteer spirit through his involvement with several state commissions in Florida, his church and leadership support of UT athletics during the STEP UP campaign and Campaign for Neyland Stadium.

Johnson came to UT from Sparta and was a standout at the guard position. His play on the field earned him All-SEC and All-America honors in 1957. He was also named an Academic All-America and is one of only five Vols to have received both honors. Johnson’s leadership of the team earned him the distinction of being named a co-captain in 1957. After graduating with a business degree, Johnson served in the Army and later as president and vice-chairman in a successful banking career. He remains active in community and church activities in his hometown of Sparta. Bill provided leadership to the university as a member of the Board of Trustees, Athletic Board and through his contribution to the Volunteer Athletics and Scholarship Fund.

“As student-athletes and as alumni of the university, they have personified the excellence that all who represent the university strive to achieve,” said Mike Hamilton, men’s athletics director. “Tommy Bronson was a great player, student government leader, served our country, is a successful executive and supporter of many charitable causes including the University of Tennessee. Bill Johnson was an All-SEC and All-America guard, standout student in the classroom, served our country, continues to have a successful career in banking and has been a generous friend to the university and athletics with his time and resources.”

The STEP UP Campaign continued the University of Tennessee’s commitment to offering world-class facilities in which Volunteer student-athletes study, train and compete. More than 870 donors committed $28.61 million towards new, renovated and expanded facilities benefiting nearly all of UT men’s and women’s intercollegiate teams in their quest to compete for SEC and NCAA championships.

Other facilities funded through the STEP UP Campaign include the Wolf-Kaplan Hospitality Center, an expansion of the indoor practice field at the Neyland-Thompson Sports Center, the construction of the McKenzie-Lawson Athletics Center, the Allan Jones Intercollegiate Aquatic Center, an Intercollegiate Golf Complex, Regal Soccer Stadium and Sherri Parker Lee Softball Stadium.

(E-mail Stan Crawley at wscrawley@earthlink.net)


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