John Shearer: Remembering Famous 1973 Georgia-Tennessee Football Game With Eddie Brown, Glynn Harrison, Horace King, And Haskel Stanback

  • Monday, November 20, 2023
  • John Shearer
It was one of the more memorable games in the storied Tennessee-Georgia football series, and I basically missed it from faraway Chattanooga as a young teenager in those days of more limited technology.

However, moments later I did learn the outcome, and I have not forgotten this unusual Georgia-Tennessee game of 1973 since. And with the help of two standout players from each team on that day – four players who were larger than life to me during their college days – I learned a little more I did not know, including what all the four did after their playing days.

As a result of all these factors, I thought it might be fun to go back and look at that game and talk to these former participants.
The game was, of course, total heartache for Tennessee and full excitement and joy for Georgia in its 35-31 win.

It came 50 years to the month before last Saturday’s encounter of the two schools from bordering states that have never been archrivals.

While the two teams had played close in the first half in 1973, with Georgia actually taking a 21-14 lead, Tennessee stormed back with the help of an 85-yard punt return by Eddie Brown from nearby Marion County to take a commanding 31-21 lead going into the fourth quarter.

But Georgia, as it often did under coach Vince Dooley, hung around and was able to capitalize with two TDs late. One came on a standard drive with a trick play by Horace King, and the other when Georgia was able to capitalize on some trickery by Tennessee that did not work. And then it scored on a play that had no trickery, only luck and awareness after a mistake.

As with a lot of the SEC encounters, these two teams have each felt the gamut of emotions in other games against each other, including in Saturday’s dominating 38-10 win by the top-ranked Bulldogs. That was the seventh straight win in the series for Georgia, nearing the nine straight won by the Vols from 1989-99 when Tennessee really had its program going.

Georgia was also ecstatic in 1980, when it came from way behind with the help of freshman star-in-the-making Herschel Walker and when it broke its long losing streak to Tennessee in 2000.

Tennessee also came back for a memorable tie in 1968 and was the happier team. And who can forget Tennessee’s somewhat surprising win in 1992 in Athens, with the blossoming Heath Shuler at quarterback and interim coach Phillip Fulmer filling in for an ailing Johnny Majors. Or how about the comeback in 2006 in Athens, or, of course, the now-famous Hail Mary by up-and-coming NFL quarterback Josh Dobbs to Jauan Jennings in 2016.

The game every year is always important to those from the Chattanooga and North Georgia areas due to the numerous local fans from both sides, with a few Alabama fans also large in numbers here.
And for me, the rivalry is also special, as I got to play as a walk-on in a memorable and exciting freshmen team game for my victorious Georgia squad against the JV Vols in Neyland Stadium in 1978 when freshmen games were still played.

And in recent years I have felt blessed to get to teach some introductory journalism classes at UT in Knoxville. And last spring I taught a Vol football player who made the offensive stat sheet in Saturday’s disappointing loss for UT.

When that 1973 game was taking place, I was just a 14-year-old who had already finished my eighth-grade football season at Baylor School.

But that had not stopped me from extending the more-relaxed pickup football season by still getting out and playing some touch football in the front yards of our street in Valleybrook in Hixson with buddy and future Alabama player Kurt Schmissrauter and others on the weekends.

I still vividly remember being out there on that Nov. 3 thinking Tennessee was going to beat Georgia because the Vols had been somewhat comfortably ahead when I last checked on the radio inside my house.

That game was not on live TV in Chattanooga, and a fan of a particular school at that time might have found his team on TV maybe three times a year, including a possible bowl game, at the most. As a result, I was following it on the radio through UT’s John Ward, although I think Georgia’s Larry Munson was also usually on a Chattanooga or North Georgia station at that time.

So, you can understand my surprise when a neighbor – I believe it was the late David McKenna – came out or walked past us and offered an update on the game that had just then concluded. Yes, this form of “instant communication” was different from today, when we can easily check a score on our phones or watch it on TV.

When he told me the outcome, I learned that, no, the Tennessee Vols had not won as I figured they would after earlier following the flow of the game on the audio airwaves.

As a Georgia fan due to the fact my father, Dr. Wayne Shearer, had attended the Peach State school, I was quite excited, although I knew some on our street were Tennessee fans. Because the Vols received much more media attention in Chattanooga at that time, I also followed Tennessee closely and was dreaming of one day playing there, too. I had even attended the UT All-Sports Camp in Knoxville and the Bill Battle Football Clinic at Baylor the previous two summers.

And coach Paul “Bear” Bryant had it going at that time against about anybody but Notre Dame, and I would have loved to play for him, too, as my friend Kurt eventually did.

Only in the next day’s paper or perhaps as my father or others told me in the subsequent hours and days, the way in which Georgia won was nothing short of amazing. The Bulldogs – or Dawgs – had been given not one, but two, gifts from Lady Luck, as I previously referenced.

Not only did Georgia capitalize on a failed fake punt attempt by Tennessee deep in the Vols’ territory late in the game, but the Bullldogs also subsequently scored the go-ahead touchdown with a ball that bounced out of, and back into, the hands of Georgia quarterback Andy Johnson.

That had come with just over a minute remaining in the game, and the Dawgs were able to hold off a late offensive attempt led by quarterback Condredge Holloway before time expired.

While it was a dream-come-true game for Georgia after thinking a loss was on the horizon, Tennessee experienced the opposite feeling and almost believed they were experiencing a nightmare of seeing defeat snatched out of the jaws of victory.

It was a particularly tough loss for Tennessee coach Bill Battle, whose teams had slipped a little in their records since he took over in 1970. And it was in front of a fanbase that had come to expect much success due to Gen. Robert Neyland’s teams of yesteryear and Doug Dickey’s of the mid- and late 1960s.

Georgia had also felt that season like it was participating in its own bad dream, too, after losing to Vanderbilt and Kentucky the previous two weeks and Florida the following week. But the Tennessee win, and wins against Auburn, Georgia Tech and Maryland in the Peach Bowl capped a 7-4-1 season.

The victory over Tennessee would no doubt prove to be pivotal, and Georgia coach Vince Dooley seemed to know that after the game when he excitedly articulated his thoughts.

“Over the 10 years there have been a lot of teams I have been proud of,” he told the media. “But I have never been more proud of a team than I am of this one. This ball club hung in there and finally had some good things happen to it. Their fake punt really would have been a great call had our team not been ready for anything. Those kinds of daring calls either go one or two ways. Either you are a hero or not a hero.”

Tennessee, meanwhile, had only lost to powerhouse Alabama before the Georgia loss on Homecoming Saturday, but would lose to Ole Miss following an off week and win out before a disappointing loss to Texas Tech in the Gator Bowl to finish 8-4.

While it was a year in which both teams were not quite at the top of the echelon of the SEC, it was definitely a top-notch game.

And although it was only the second loss of the year for Tennessee, coach Bill Battle seemed to be obviously disappointed in his post-game media comments about the fake punt run by upback Steve Chancey that was stopped by Dennis Hester at Tennessee’s 26-yard line. But he seemed to accept the blame for the loss in an admirable way.

“They worked like heck to win, and I blew the game,” said coach Battle, who would do OK for himself after leaving Tennessee in 1976 by being ultra-successful in the collegiate licensing realm and then becoming athletic director at his alma mater of Alabama for a brief period. “It was stupid to do it in the first place. We had been working on the sweep and I thought if we could get a first down, we could win the game. This is a good bunch of guys. I am sorry they have such a dumb coach.”

The game was also full of players and others who would become part of the lore of both schools. Besides those who were interviewed or already mentioned, Georgia’s other players included standout offensive linemen Mac McWhorter and Craig Hertwig, running back Jimmy Poulos (who had 92 yards rushing), freshman kicker Allan Leavitt, defensive lineman Rusty Russell (son of defensive coordinator Erk Russell), and two other pioneering black players along with Horace King – Chuck Kinnebrew and Clarence Pope.

Another early black player for Georgia, linebacker Sylvester Boler, made a key stop on Vol quarterback Condredge Holloway late in the game. But his promising career would be cut short in an incident embarrassing for Georgia and himself when he pulled a gun on a player the next season in a dorm incident. He was the subject of an interesting blog post I found by Patrick Garbin, who tracked him down in 2014 and interviewed him.

An unusual Georgia person connected to the game was Greg McGarity, who would go on to become athletic director at Georgia. He was a ball boy during that game after lettering on the tennis team the previous spring, and he can be seen jumping up and down on the sidelines like a young kid during Andy Johnson’s game-winning TD.

Playing in the game for Tennessee besides those interviewed included, of course, Condredge Holloway, the first black starting quarterback in the SEC; future NFL offensive lineman Mickey Marvin, future UTC, Clemson and Memphis head coach Tommy West; Hixson High graduate and future UTC player Mitchell Gravitt at offensive end; and backup quarterback Gary Valbuena.

Others included LaFayette, Ga., running back Paul Careathers, another pioneering black player for Tennessee; freshman receiver and kick returner and future NFL player Stanley Morgan (one of my favorite players growing up!); barefoot kicker Ricky Townsend from Dalton, Ga.; future Howard High coach Robert Pulliam on the defensive line; and linebackers Ronnie McCartney and Art Reynolds.

To gain a little more information on the game – and maybe just to get a chance to chat with former stars – I was able to track down Glynn Harrison and Horace King of Georgia and Eddie Brown and Haskel Stanback of Tennessee with the help of semi-retired Tennessee administrator and SID Bud Ford, who still works as the UT sports archivist, and senior associate athletic director Claude Felton at Georgia. By circumstance, all four players wore either No. 24 or 25.

* * *

Former Bulldog Glynn Harrison will never forget being an unlikely participant in a historic part of the memorable Georgia-Tennessee football game of 50 years ago.

Although he had returned a punt for 42 yards in the first half of the game, he had played only sparingly in that game as a backup running back for Georgia with just two carries as only a sophomore.

But his most famous play of the game would be one in which he did not carry the ball but did strangely help the ball bounce correctly into Andy Johnson’s hands. What on film did not look like more than a simple fake handoff to him was anything but that. He was actually supposed to get the ball, he said, but Mr. Johnson made a split-second decision not to give it to him.

But in contrast to a split-second decision by Tennessee not to punt, this one worked out OK for the Bulldogs.

As Mr. Harrison recalled of the Georgia drive that put the Bulldogs up for good after the fake Tennessee punt, “We were making the final drive and for some reason I was in the backfield. The play was a dive play and Andy hands it off to me, and the hole closed, so he pulled the ball out and it bounced up to him and he ran around the end and scored. It had bounced because I clamped down on it.”

It was a play described by Georgia play-by-play radio announcer Larry Munson in one of the early games in which he was just starting to really get excited in describing a game.

Mr. Harrison would go on to have many other exciting times as a running back wearing No. 25 for Georgia, particularly during his 1975 senior season, when Georgia got to play in the Cotton Bowl after a memorable win over a good Florida team.

Dawg fans would remember him as Gliding Glynn Harrison, but, as he recalled, the team called him something else.

“The nickname gliding Glynn came in my senior year from Dan McGill, the tennis coach (and sports information director),” he said in explanation of his moniker. “My nickname with the team was Scooter and that was given to me as a freshman by Billy Payne, who was running backs coach for the freshman team.”

Mr. Payne, of course, was the former standout linebacker on the 1968 Georgia Sugar Bowl team who was still in law school when he was working as a graduate assistant. He would go on to earn quite a name for himself getting the 1996 Summer Olympics to Atlanta and later serving as chairman of the Augusta National Golf Club and working with the Masters.

Mr. Harrison still remembers plenty about that Tennessee game, including fellow jersey wearer No. 25 for the Tennessee team – Eddie Brown, who had the electrifying 85-yard punt return in the third quarter and caused the UT fans to cheer ecstatically.

“After that punt return, it just erupted,” he said of Neyland Stadium, which had a then-large 70,000-plus fans cheering. “The stadium was so huge and so loud. It was the largest at the time (among SEC home stadiums) and the loudest. It was kind of exciting and electric.”

He also remembers Georgia having to chase Vol quarterback Condredge Holloway up and down the field all day.

From Columbia High in Decatur, Ga., Mr. Harrison was able to enjoy some elusiveness as well and gain his nickname during his career, despite being able to run only an average 4.7 seconds in the 40-yard dash.

“I was smaller and slower and don’t know how it worked,” he said with a laugh. “I guess my forte was finding the holes and running in the broken field. I cut back against the grain a lot, I guess because I didn’t have great speed.”

After Georgia, he focused on the lay of the land in front of him as well in the real estate business before later becoming city manager of Greensboro, Ga., not far from Athens. He later opened a couple of Zaxby’s restaurants in Alabama as a franchisee before later selling them.

These days he lives in Watkinsville near Athens and enjoys going to the Georgia games, although he has admittedly not gotten used to all the loud music and other entertainment coming out of the speakers at major college stadiums these days.

But his heart grows fonder when remembering how the loud Neyland Stadium of 1973 grew somewhat quiet except for the few Georgia fans.

“It was one of those special games you remember forever,” he said.

* * *

Fellow Georgia teammate Horace King, who was a year older than Mr. Harrison, remembers that game and his whole career at Georgia fondly, too. From Athens, he would become one of the original black players to play for Georgia along with fellow Athenians Clarence Pope and Richard Appleby (and Larry West and Chuck Kinnebrew from other communities) after he signed in the fall of 1970. It was the same year that Condredge Holloway signed with the Vols from Huntsville, Al.

Mr. King said he had been recruited by Georgia assistant Mike Castronis, who worked more with the freshmen team over the years, after rumors were circulating that the three Athens players might sign with Michigan. It was at a time when California and Northern schools had recruited blacks for years, and Southern colleges had just gotten in the game as times where finally changing.

Mr. King would see the state of Michigan plenty, but as an NFL player with the Detroit Lions.
And like Mr. Holloway, he would also throw the ball despite being a college running back. At the all-black Bernie Harris High in Athens before he finished his career at Clarke Central – a merger of Athens High and Bernie Harris – he would be known for his passing abilities.

“I was pretty good at passing. I could always find them (the receivers). I would throw it as far as I could and they would go get it,” he said. “Mike Castronis remembered it and he had watched me a couple of times in high school.”

The skill would be an important aid in the Tennessee game. In the next-to-last drive, with Georgia trailing, 31-21, King, who was listed in the stat sheet as a flanker, threw a pass back to quarterback Johnson for 20 yards after a lateral to help the Bulldogs eventually pull to 31-28 after a 4-yard TD reception by Jimmy Poulos.

Despite the Georgia victory that day, Mr. King said he had the greatest respect for Tennessee and their fans.

“Condredge Holloway was tearing us up along with Haskel Stanback,” he said. “And they are loud in Tennessee at Neyland Stadium.”

Mr. King, who had an extremely upbeat and friendly manner while reminiscing over the phone, would go on to play for nine seasons as a running back for the Detroit Lions, gaining 2,081 career yards.

At a time when NFL players were not set for life with their salaries like many are today and when working during the off season was expected, he did such work as substitute teaching and working for a U.Ga. alumnus as a sales representative for a glove and safety equipment company.

Through some celebrity golf tournaments and other Georgia connections, he ended up being able to work at the GM’s Detroit/Hamtramck plant, which was the first highly automated assembly plant. He worked there for 24 years, and by planning in advance, was able to take early retirement in 2010.

While he loved Detroit and took pride in it and concern for some of its economic problems it had a few years ago, he later moved to Atlanta with his wife, Mitzi, whom he had met while at Georgia. He said he has occasionally run into former Vols’ and NFL player Haskel Stanback there.

He still follows closely the Georgia sports teams and was recognized in recent years in connection with the 50th anniversary of being one of the black pioneer football players. He has also been invited by the Kirby Smart staff to visit with the current team and share his story and offer words of wisdom.
“I get to talk to the young men,” he said with pride. “I am still having an impact and able to share in what’s happened at age 70.”

While it was not easy being among the black football pioneers at Georgia, and some at a variety of colleges around the South had trouble initially feeling accepted due to the new experience and feelings of isolation, for Mr. King, it was almost all positive.

“I enjoyed every minute of it,” he said. “It had its challenges. But the staff and people at U.Ga., I could see that they had my best interests at heart.

“My experience on the University of Georgia football team was inspiring, uplifting and life building. I learned a lot from Vince Dooley.”

* * *

Also wearing No. 24 that day for opponent Tennessee was running back Haskel Stanback. That season he was wrapping up a solid career that, like many Vol greats before him, had demonstrated both speed and power.

But he did possess one trait different from those who preceded him – he was the first black running back to play such a dominant role for the Vols over several seasons.

Arriving as a freshman in 1970 just two years after wingback Lester McClain became the first black starter for Tennessee, he became a starter from 1971-73 and led the SEC in rushing (890 yards) and points (78) scored his junior year. He also went on to play in the NFL.

Interviewed over the phone from his Atlanta area home, Mr. Stanback said such other black players as Mr. McClain from Nashville Antioch High, linebacker Jackie Walker from Knoxville Fulton High, and fellow tailback Andy Bennett had paved the way for him. As a result, he hinted that he did not feel like he was accomplishing anything special in that regard.

Football wise, though, his stats show he accomplished plenty. Vol fans cheered for him then as he totaled 1,730 yards rushing. And they apparently still cheer for him now, with many fans now in their 50s and older not having forgotten No. 24.

“You still run into a lot of former UT fans and Volunteers,” the 71-year-old said with a chuckle. “It’s a pleasure to run into someone and reminisce about the time in school.”

Almost surprisingly for Tennessee fans, though, Mr. Stanback almost wore the scarlet and gray of Ohio State instead of orange.

As a standout player in the North Carolina town of Kannapolis – which at the time was known for its giant Cannon Mills towel and sheet plant – he was visited by none other than the legendary and fiery Buckeye coach Woody Hayes.

“I wanted to be a defensive back, and Woody Hayes came to town,” he said. “We went out and had a bite to eat and he was telling me that (Buckeye standout defensive player) Jack Tatum was going to be a senior, and when he left, the position was going to be mine.”

While that was quite a lure, he said he felt something special during his visit to Tennessee and decided that was where he wanted to go instead of Ohio State or Clemson or some of the North Carolina schools that also recruited him. “That was one of the worst moments I had when I had to pick up the phone and call him (coach Hayes) and tell him I wasn’t coming,” he recalled.

At Tennessee, he enjoyed playing under coach Bill Battle, although saying he was young and not as rigid as some of the old-time coaches like coach Hayes.

He did get some additional parental advice, though, while on the team as a traveling roommate of fellow star Eddie Brown. Although Mr. Brown was white and Mr. Stanback was black, he said their families developed a close bond at a time when that was somewhat unusual.

“His dad told my mom, ‘Don’t you worry. I’ll whup him just like he’s my own son,’ ” Mr. Stanback recalled jokingly. “We referred to each other as family.”

Mr. Stanback also well remembers Vol quarterback Condredge Holloway, the first black starting quarterback in the SEC, whom Mr. Stanback said changed Tennessee’s offense greatly with such mobility. He was one class behind Mr. Stanback.

Among Mr. Stanback’s memorable games, the victory over national power Penn State in the first night game at Neyland Stadium in 1972, when he scored three touchdowns, stands out. On the other hand, the Alabama games are also memorable, although the Vols lost a heartbreaker that same year to the Crimson Tide.

Of the 1973 Georgia game, he said with disappointment, “I remember I thought we were going to win until right at the end.”

Mr. Stanback, who had a somewhat softer style of talking when reminiscing over the phone, would go on to play six seasons for the Atlanta Falcons and total 2,662 career yards. He had also learned about covering a lot of ground as a transportation and logistics major and went to work for Norfolk Southern, which was headed by a UT graduate. He eventually became Virginia superintendent.

He and his wife, Doris, later settled back in the Atlanta area community of Locust Grove. His two daughters, Amber and Kristie, also attended UT.

When not on the tee playing golf, he also still likes to come up and watch the Vols run through the T, continuing the love for Tennessee that began during a high school visit. “I’ve got season tickets and go to as many games as I can,” he said with pride.

I particularly remember Mr. Stanback well not only because of his skills, but also because I also wore No. 24 in seventh and eighth grades and, as a fellow running back, sure wished I could run the football like he did. He said he had actually worn No. 22 at A.L. Brown High School, but the number was taken when he arrived. Kicker Ricky Townsend wore it for several years during that time.

* * *

As a star punt returner and defensive back for the Tennessee Vols a half century ago, Eddie Brown was known for having great peripheral vision that helped him succeed and become an all-American.
“I could almost see behind me. That was God’s gift. I had it and used it,” he said.

Now looking at the world exactly 50 years later with a different kind of hindsight, he still likes what he sees from his life experiences. He also feels the future looks bright, too, for the Big Orange football program under third-year coach Josh Heupel.

“Coach Heupel is doing a great job, and he is so welcoming to all of us” (former players), he said before the Vols had two tough losses to Missouri and Georgia. “He’s turning it around, but I can’t wait until he gets all his people in here.”

Mr. Brown knows about the welcoming part, as he tries to attend a morning team practice once a week or so, often with his brother-in-law and earlier Vol player Bill Baker. In fact, as I was able to interview Mr. Brown in person recently while I was up in Knoxville for my classes, Mr. Brown seemed more typical fan than former star with an easily approachable manner.

The scrappy former player’s stats tell otherwise. He was UT team captain in 1973 and went on to enjoy a solid NFL and USFL career that included intercepting a pass for the Los Angeles Rams against Pittsburgh in Super Bowl XIV in 1980.

Mr. Brown, who now lives in Greeneville, Tn., after moving there while enjoying a long career with Jostens, said he had first latched on to the Vols as an elementary school youngster growing up in Marion County.

His father, Paul Brown, who went on to work for 44 years for the Crane plumbing parts manufacturing company at 33rd Street and Alton Park Boulevard in Chattanooga without missing a day of work, took young Eddie to the now-famous Tennessee-LSU game of 1959. After the Vols won with a defensive stand on a two-point try, he was a Vol fan for life.

He would go on to be a Vol player for life, too, despite the overtures of Alabama coach “Bear” Bryant, who along with Crimson Tide trainer and former Tennessean Jim Goostree would call him every Thursday night in high school.

Wearing No. 25, as mentioned, Mr. Brown initially signed when Doug Dickey was the coach but would play under Bill Battle. While he thinks coach Dickey could have built Tennessee into a 1970s-era dynasty, if the coach had not left for his alma mater of Florida, Brown still enjoyed playing for coach Battle, who also had early success. “He treated us like men and expected us to do what we were expected to do,” he said of coach Battle. “He was a great man.”

Following in a long line of standout defensive backs and safeties for Tennessee at that time, he had as many big plays against Kansas in 1973 as many players enjoy in an entire career. He blocked a field goal in a play that resulted in damage to four teeth, but he came back to run an interception back 73 yards, had two long punt returns, recovered a fumble, and made the game-saving tackle on a two-point attempt in the 28-27 UT win in Memphis.

While he was named Sports Illustrated player of the week, he did not get to enjoy the accolades due to having to serve as a pallbearer at the funeral of his wife’s grandmother and getting his teeth fixed. “It was a long ordeal,” he quipped.

Another contrast of personal enjoyment mixed with heartache came in, of course, the Georgia game, when the Vols lost, despite his electrifying punt return for a TD in the third quarter.

“It was back and forth, and it was one of those bad bounces,” Brown said.

A rumor had always circulated down in Chattanooga that maybe an assistant coach had been heavily involved in the fake punt late against Georgia, but Mr. Brown said, “Coach Battle took full responsibility for it.” He added that, despite the fake play that backfired, Georgia also got lucky with the Mr. Johnson fumble that bounced back into his hands and the Bulldogs were able to capitalize.
Mr. Brown also recalls the tough losses to Alabama, particularly the one in 1972, when the Vols had a lead late, just like against Georgia in 1973.

He also remembers being a traveling roommate with Mr. Stanback and how close their families became at a time when UT was still in the early days of being an interracial team. As did Mr. Stanback, Mr. Brown remembers that his parents even became like second parents for Mr. Stanback.

Someone who became like a father figure to Mr. Brown was NFL coach George Allen of the Redskins and later Rams, under whom he played and who took a liking to Mr. Brown’s style and work ethic.

Mr. Brown had planned to go to vet school before he was drafted. Although he pondered being a coach and even talked with noted NFL coaches Don Shula and Marv Levy about positions after his playing days, he ended up working for Jostens.

That work included ordering rings for UT’s championship teams. The pieces of jewelry literally symbolized an unbroken circle for him regarding a longtime connection to UT that included once being a big man on campus.

“Since 1959, I have bled orange,” he said with emotion.

Mr. Brown said the family aspects of his life have also been a blessing following his remarriage 17 years ago. “I was divorced for several years and then met the love of my life, Nicole, and got married and have a son, Riley, and a daughter, Ellie. They are actually stepchildren but they treat me as their dad and I love them as my own. The three of them changed my life definitely for the better.”

* * *

Of course, one person who would have been fun to interview regarding the 1973 Georgia-Tennessee game would have been Andy Johnson. He unfortunately died of cancer in May 2018 at the age of 65 and is now buried at Athens’ Oconee Hill Cemetery near Sanford Stadium/Dooley Field.
More of a running quarterback than a passing one, he ended up playing for the New England Patriots for nearly a decade as a running back.

Definitely a big man on the Georgia campus, this athlete who also played on the Georgia baseball team and was drafted by the Atlanta Braves out of Athens High School had some rare skills.

Longtime University of Georgia athletic department employee Dave Williams, who grew up in Athens admiring Mr. Johnson’s talents, said, “Most people still say Andy was the greatest athlete to ever come out of Athens, Georgia, including Fran Tarkington, who was pretty good himself. He's the best I've ever seen in person.”

Teammate Glynn Harrison agrees, saying, “Most people who knew him say he was the best athlete they played with.”

And on that day in Knoxville 50 years ago, that unusual hand-eye coordination helped him pick up a bouncing ball and go into the end zone – and into University of Georgia football lore.

* * *

Special thanks to friend Charlie Franck, who remembered the 50th anniversary of this famous game was occurring this fall and suggested a story on it.

* * *
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