David Hannah, front, at 1974 Alabama signing. Second row, from left, are Maj. Luke Worsham and Coach Paul "Bear" Bryant. In back are, from left, John, father Herb and Charlie Hannah.
As an offensive tackle on some outstanding Baylor School football teams in the early 1970s, David Hannah helped get the Red Raider backs and ends into the end zone.
His work helped him get into a select and desired place as well – the Baylor Sports Hall of Fame.
During a banquet at the school this Saturday, he will be inducted along with Kurt Keene (Class of ’96) and Andrea Shipley Dobbins (Class of ’99)
“Obviously I’m excited about it because it means I’m getting inducted with a lot of great people,” said the Class of 1975 member.
“It’s one thing to wear the red and gray of Baylor, it’s something else to say you did something for the red and gray of Baylor.”
Hannah, who also played on the defensive line for some national championship Alabama Crimson Tide squads, still lives in the Albertville/Crossville area of Alabama, from where he had come to Baylor as a boarding student.
Now as versatile in the working world as he was at Baylor while also competing in wrestling and the shot put and discus in track, he runs some chicken houses on 320 acres he and his brothers own and serves as a bank board member.
He also continues to serve as a volunteer football coach, now commuting 90 minutes to Birmingham to help Briarwood Christian School’s high school team.
The dedication is similar to that of Maj. Luke Worsham, who coached Hannah in all three sports at Baylor.
“Major Worsham was far and away the best offensive line coach I had,” he said. “He knew the basics of football. Even if the (opposing) team did something unexpected, you knew what to do.
“And he was such a strong individual with consistency. Of all the people outside my father, he had the most influence on me.”
He also enjoyed playing for the successful E.B. “Red” Etter, whom he remembers as being so contemplative and caught up in thought that he would sometimes get chalk on his face during a strategy session.
Hannah also recalled that if you messed up on a play, Coach Etter would show the play several times while the team was viewing the film.
“He was great and he was fun,” Hannah remembered.
As a member of the varsity, Hannah was a regular on Coach Etter’s teams that finished second in the state in 1972 and first in 1973, when they were also named national champions after the season in one high school poll.
Hannah’s experience in the whole Baylor community was also positive, he recalled.
“The academic part was a complement to athletics, and the athletics a complement to the academics,” he said. “Baylor did a really good job of blending the two.”
Although David Hannah’s older brothers, John and Charlie, had already made names for themselves on Alabama’s football team, he seriously considered signing with Georgia after being recruited by Howard “Doc” Ayers.
However, he ended up signing with Alabama, and legendary coach Paul “Bear” Bryant made his first visit to the Hannah home for the signing ceremony.
Hannah quickly became a believer in Coach Bryant’s ability to lead a team to victory.
“Coach Bryant brought such a powerful presence to the plate,” he said. “When he walked into the room, it was like ‘Whoa!’
“He was just one of those individuals who had the personality and the proven record. You knew what he was saying was true.”
Hannah moved to defensive lineman at Alabama, and, despite being slowed somewhat with injuries, developed into an all-SEC player.
Even though he was playing a different position from what he had played in high school, he found a coach who was very much similar to Maj. Worsham. He was Ken Donahue, who was defensive coordinator at Alabama before finishing his coaching career at his alma mater of Tennessee in his native Knoxville.
“They were both men of great consistency and personal integrity,” he said.
In the Sugar Bowl against Penn State on Jan. 1, 1979, Hannah made some key contributions in the famous goal-line stand that propelled the Crimson Tide to a national championship in one of the polls.
He had been involved in the third-down tackle, and then was also able to get a hand on ball carrier Mike Guman along with several others on fourth down.
“I grabbed him on fourth down and a pile fell on top of me,” he recalled. “I didn’t know if they had scored or not for what seemed like an eternity.”
He eventually saw two players jumping up and down and thought Penn State had scored. However, he quickly learned they were Crimson Tide defensive standouts Barry Krauss and Marty Lyons, whose socks were taped and looked like those of Penn State.
Because of injuries, Hannah did not enjoy a pro career as his two brothers had, and instead returned to Northeast Alabama and eventually became an established farmer and had a family.
He formerly raised cattle on the land, but eventually concluded they were a little harder corralling than the Penn State offense had been on that New Year’s Day. After they escaped through the fences one too many times – a problem many farmers battle – he decided to stick with his chicken houses.
“They must have been the Chick-fil-A cows because every time I left, they knew it and would get outside the fences and have a party,” he said with a laugh.
He said he enjoys farming because it keeps him close to his family. He and his wife, Melanie, have two daughters. The older one, Heather, graduated from Alabama – where else – and is working on the gubernatorial campaign of Republican Dr. Robert Bentley.
The other daughter, Sarah, is a freshman at Alabama.
While Hannah enjoyed playing under some of the Southern coaching giants, he also learned a lot about life from a little person, as his only son, Bill, died of leukemia at the age of 6.
The times Coaches Bryant, Donahue, Etter and Worsham challenged him no doubt prepared him to face the unfortunate adversity.
Hannah admits to having a different perspective of the world because of his son.
“It really causes you to look at life a lot more as a temporal thing,” he said, adding that he now realizes positive relationships are more important than personal accomplishments.
But on Saturday, Hannah will be recognized for his personal athletic accomplishments of more than three decades ago.
A previous commitment will keep him from attending in person, and former Baylor teammate David Rutherford will accept the honor for him.
However, he will still be there in heart.
“As far as the education Baylor gave me, it was second to none,” he said.