Anchoring the UTC Defense: Bob Klein to Davis Tull

All-Star Defensive Ends for 80 years

Friday, October 25, 2013 - by B.B. Branton

For nearly eight decades Chattanooga football has been known for an anchor, a leader, a marquee player at defensive end. Nine All-Americans, several on SoCon lists and trio who earned SoCon defensive player of the year honors.

The names are well known among long-time Moc fans from the first Little All-American in Bob Klein (1936), followed by Billy O’Brien (1940) and two of the best ends on one team – Howard “Red” Clark and James Tucker (1957-58), plus Eddie Yates (1974).

The 1980s produced solid All-SoCon players in Joey Abney (1982) and Steve Kurtz (1983), while Tony Boeck (1990 All-American and SoCon Def. Player of Year), Tony Hill (All-SoCon, 1990) and Howard High School product Terdell Sands (played one UTC season -1999-and seven years in the NFL), opened and closed the final decade of the 20th century.

The new millennium has produced All-Americans and SoCon Defensive Players of the Year in Josh Beard (2009) and current junior David Tull (2012), plus 2010 teammates Chris Donald and Josh Williams.

While the modern day players choose either offense or defense, the rules for the older generation resulted in two-way stars.

At 6-3, 195, Klein was a dominant force with size, speed (10.2 in the 100 yard dash) and agility.

He earned All-Dixie honors three years in a row, and was Mr. Everything as he kicked off, returned kicks, did a little place kicking, as a pass catcher he was astute in the old Hook and Ladder play plus causing havoc on defense.

One of the school’s greatest athletes, he earned 10 varsity letters in track (4), basketball (3) and football (3). More on his track accolades later …

O’Brien, Red Clark and Tucker all followed in Klein’s footsteps as two-way weapons; chasing opposing quarterbacks and catching passes.

Howard “Red” Clark & James Tucker … a one-two punch on offense and defense, Clark was All-American in 1957, with Tucker making the grade the next year.

Clark, team captain in 1957, showed his two-way ability as he set a season record for receivers in 1956 with 23 catches and 394 yards.

Bill Wilkerson –- While an All-American in 1953, a year earlier Bill joined with ’52 All-American Chet Lagod  and ’53 All-American Tom Drake (guard) to form a stellar line which helped the Mocs record a 7-3 record, falling only to Tennessee, Alabama and Southern Miss. The defense held the other seven opponents to an average of 6.7 points a game, including two shutouts. In a 47-14 win against Louisville, Wilkerson and Lagod blocked punts.

Eddie Yates (A-A HM, 1974) played the last two years of the Harold Wilkes Era and the first two under Joe Morrison, while Joey Abney (1982) and Steve Kurtz (1983) were All-SoCon in the '80s.

The aforementioned Boeck, Hill and Sands closed out the last century.

Defensive Players of the Year: The Mocs have been blessed with a trio of stellar defensive ends who have earned SoCon Defensive Player of the Year awards; Troy Boeck (1990), Josh Beard (2009) and Davis Tull (2012).

Russ Huesman Era: Now in his fifth year leading UTC grid hopes, he gives high praise to defensive line coach Marcus West who has molded Beard (All-American 2009) and Chris Donald (2010 All-SoCon), plus Williams and Tull – who joined forces in 2011-12 – into all-star players.

Going For 500

Saturday at Finley at 2 p.m., Tull is the latest in a long line of talented defensive ends to carry the Mocs defensive banner as UTC seeks its 500th win, but more importantly a Southern Conference win and another step toward a Southern Conference championship.

Defensive Ends

All-Americans (9)

Bob Klein (1936)

Bill O'Brien (1940)

Bill Wilkerson (1953)

Red Clark (1957)

James Tucker (1958)

Eddie Yates (1974)

Troy Boeck (1990)

Josh Beard (2009)

Davis Tull (2012) - school's all time sack leader (24)

SoCon Defensive Players of the Year (3)

1990 - Tony Boeck

2009 - Josh Beard

2012 - Davis Tull


Bob Klein in Track ... Although he earned All-American honors in football in 1936, track and field might have been his best sport.

Nicknamed “King Kong”, Klein earned the respect of coaches and athletes as he was the state meet (T.I.A.A.) most valuable athlete in 1936 and 1937.

Tenn. Interscholastic Athletic Assoc. (T.I.A.A.) Annual Meet


1934 - Discus – 1st place (127’) state record

1935 –Discus – 2nd place

1936 – State Meet MVP, 19 points (scored in 7 events)

1st Place (2)

Discus – (130-6), state record

Broad Jump – (20’10 ¾”)

2nd Place (3): High Jump, Javelin, 100 yard dash

3rd Place (1):  120 High Hurdles

 4th Place (1): Shot Put

1937 – State Meet, MVP, 17 points (scored in 5 events)

1st Place (2)

Discus – (130-7) new state record)

100 Yard Dash – (10.2)

2nd Place (1): High Jump

3rd Place (2): Broad jump, 120 high hurdles

Newspaper Accounts  May 9, 1937

1937 Chattanooga Times

Springer Gibson writes ...

“Tennessee easily captured the meet with 56 points … but it was Big Bob Klein, closing out probably the greatest athletic career in Moccasin history, who ruled the excellent meet with an arm of iron, legs of steel and a heart as unflinching as the Rock of Gibraltar.”

 UC coach Andy Nardo did not think he could enter Klein in six events, but the Chicago native showed him otherwise

Springer continues …

“The discus (he won) and broad jump (third) are going on at the same time and he hasn’t time to enter all three (third being the high jump),” Nardo was quoted as saying.

“But that’s where the gang fooled his coach. The high jump pit is on the path between the broad jump pit and discus ring. Bob didn’t want to waste energy going around, so he leaped over the bar (he took third) on his way to the broad jump and got a second-place tie for his efforts.”

Chattanooga Free Press

Jack Roper writes …

“The bespectacled mammoth from the University of Chattanooga broke his own state discus record, took first place in the 100-yard dash …. His 17 points helped give the Moccasins fifth place (out of eight schools) at the state college track meet …”

“Five times the announcer named Klein as a point-winner … While Klein was tossing the javelin the announcer would ask him to ‘please report to the broad-jumping pit. You are holding up the other jumpers.'

“Klein would hurry to the jumping pit (3rd place), only to learn that he also was wanted at the starting line for the (120 high) hurdle race (2nd place).”

 Come Saturday at 2 pm. against SoCon foe The Citadel, All-American end Davis Tull should add to his career quarterback sack total (24) and will most likely be a modern day Bob Klein as he dashes around would be blockers, hurdles a few opposing running backs on the way to the QB and might even use a few wrestling moves to escape a double or triple team by the Bulldog Nation.

The late Mr. Klein would have be proud.

contact B.B. Branton at

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