Bob Waters left behind an iconic legacy in his 20 years as head football coach and athletics director at Western Carolina University before losing a heroic battle to Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS/amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) in 1989 at the age of 50. A native of Sylvania, Ga., who also gained fame in South Carolina and California, he became an adopted son of North Carolina.
Waters came to WCU in 1969 as head coach after an all-star football career at Presbyterian College, a five-year stint as quarterback and defensive back with the San Francisco 49ers and assistant coaching positions at Presbyterian and Stanford. He was the MVP of the 1960 Tangerine Bowl – now known as the Capital One Bowl – and was drafted by the 49ers where he made frequent starts as the “shotgun” (a newly created position in the era) quarterback and engineered wins over Baltimore, Detroit and Los Angeles in 1963.
At WCU, Waters led the Catamounts to 13 winning seasons and a school-record 116 victories (and two NCAA playoff appearances) while playing demanding non-conference schedules. Eight of his teams were nationally ranked, and he owned the eighth-best winning percentage among the NCAA’s I-AA coaches during his tenure. His 1983 squad became the first Southern Conference team to play in the NCAA I-AA title game. Prior to his arrival, WCU had posted only five winning seasons among the previous 20.
Fifty-four Catamounts who played under Waters named first-team All-Southern Conference selection. Thirteen were named to All-America teams, and a dozen went on to play pro football.
His pass-oriented offense perennially ranked in the nation’s top 10 and helped produce the country’s leading pass receiver in 1977, seven Southern Conference pass receiving titlists, the nation’s leading field goal kicker and punter and three Southern Conference Offensive Player of the Year recipients.
When one thinks of high school football dynasties, the Robbinsville Black Knights might not be the first team to come to mind, but make no mistake, this little community in the far western part of the state has a legacy any team on any level would envy.
That’s thanks to Bob Colvin, who took over as the school’s head coach in 1966. By 1969, he already had developed a program that would withstand the test of time as the Knights captured the first of their 11 state championships.
In Colvin’s 18-year career, which ended in 1984, the Knights won 177 of the 231 games they played, a winning percentage of nearly 77 percent. In addition to the 11 state championships, Colvin won 16 Smoky Mountain Conference titles, both records that still hold today.
The crowning moment of the Colvin Era came in 1976. The Knights went undefeated while winning a record seven games with shutouts. They scored a total of 530 points and averaged 40.7 points per game. They only allowed 61 points – or 4.7 points per game – an unbelievable achievement for any football team, let alone a small 1-A team located deep in the Appalachian Mountains. Deservingly, Colvin was selected as the N.C. Coach of the Year.
“Coach Colvin was one of the first coaches in the state to implement year round football training,” said Dee Walsh, a two-time state champion from Colvin’s era, and the current head coach and athletics director for Robbinsville High School. “He had guys working out in the weight room during the off season long before anyone else. In addition, he was a great guy. The boys loved playing for him. He made you want to play harder, be better and outperform whoever was on the field.”
With success came offers to coach at other schools, but Colvin was firmly planted in his hometown. Born and raised in Graham County, he too had played football for Robbinsville – then known as the Blue Devils – as a high school student. He continued his education at Western Carolina University (an injury during his final high school game prevented him from playing football at Clemson), earning a teaching degree in physical education before returning to Robbinsville to coach.
“Maybe that was part of the appeal,” Colvin said, chuckling, of his dedication to his hometown. “The kids knew I wasn’t using them for a steppingstone to somewhere else. They knew I sincerely cared for them and I was where I wanted to be.”
Kelvin Bryant, affectionately referred to as “The Reluctant Superstar,” is as well known for his humble personality and demeanor as he is for his natural athletic ability, particularly where it was displayed so admirably as a running back on the football field.
A native and again now a resident of Tarboro, Bryant excelled in football, track, basketball and baseball while growing up in the eastern North Carolina community. His love of sports was nurtured by an amazing family: a wonderful mother (the late Doris Bryant) whom he adored; a spirited father (the late Mick Bryant) who was his first coach and number one agent; and a team of brothers and sisters to practice with and cheer him on (Shirley Ann, Faye, Peaches, Mick, Earl, Ronald, Donald, Wayne, Curtis and Hop). In addition, he benefited from a supportive community in Edgecombe County as a whole that helped him in so many ways.
Bryant was heavily recruited to play college football at a number of schools while displaying his formidable skills at Tarboro High School. Ultimately, however, it was the University of North Carolina that had the good fortune to add Bryant to its roster. During his four years in Chapel Hill (1979-82), he ran around, through and sometimes over the top defenders in college football in an explosive and memorable manner.
He compiled three 1,000 yard rushing seasons – and was a three-time first-team all-ACC tailback – and remains in the Tar Heel record books for a number of accomplishments. Among many memorable performances was one that remains most enduring to North Carolina fans. Against East Carolina on a fall Saturday afternoon in 1982, he gave a signature performance in scoring six touchdowns. But it was his impromptu gesture after the fifth touchdown that’s indelible in the minds of many: he handed the ball to former teammate Steve Streater, who had been paralyzed in an automobile accident and was watching the game from his wheelchair in front of the old field house at Kenan Stadium.
After completing his outstanding career as a Tar Heel, Bryant signed with the Philadelphia Stars of the fledging United States Football League. There, he continued to shine. The league would fold three years later, but in all three of those seasons Bryant led the Stars (for two years in Philadelphia and one year in Baltimore) to title game appearances. Twice they were the USFL champions and Bryant was one of their stars, earning league Most Valuable Players honors as a rookie and being named MVP of the championship team in the third year. In USFL history, only Herschel Walker rushed for more yards than Bryant, who finished with 3,053 yards.
In 1986, he joined the Washington Redskins – it fulfilled a boyhood dream as he had grown up a fan of the team – and had the privilege of being coached by Joe Gibbs. Of Bryant, Gibbs said this: “He’s the best I’ve ever seen at coming out of the backfield.” With Bryant as a key contributor, the Redskins won Super Bowl XXII. Unfortunately, a slew of injuries curtailed his playing time with Washington, and he retired in 1990.
To this day, he is still beloved by so many within the schools and teams where he played. Some of his honors include having his jersey recognized in Kenan Stadium, being selected one of the “Top 50 ACC Football Players of All Time) in 1992, being named as a Tar Heel legend in conjunction with the annual ACC Football Championship Game, and being inducted into the Twin County Hall of Fame.
Rich McGeorge was born in Roanoke, Virginia, the son of the late Mr. and Mrs. Aubrey McGeorge. During his high school years, he was not excited about playing football, partly because he did not like the feel of the helmet on his head. After seeing his older brother playing the sport, he took a liking to the pigskin – and the rest is history.
His last year in football at Jefferson High School was outstanding, and he was noticed by both the University of Miami and Virginia Tech. After visiting Hurricane country in South Florida, he then took a road trip to Blacksburg. His heart was really set on playing basketball for the Hokies; however, he wanted to wait until basketball season was over to make a football decision. The Hokie coaches decided to no longer continue the recruiting efforts.
His high school coach, Hank Hamrick, was an Elon College (now Elon University) graduate who had been an outstanding basketball and baseball player and, thus not surprisingly, was a member of the Elon Sports Hall of Fame. McGeorge travelled to Elon for basketball and football tryouts, and he impressed on both fronts. With the assistance of coaches Bill Miller and Alan White, McGeorge was awarded partial scholarships in both sports, and he later would be elevated to a full scholarship. After four years at Elon, he would be remembered as a legend in football and as an excellent basketball player.
During that four-year period ending in 1970, McGeorge rewrote Elon’s record book as a receiver, ending his career as the school’s career record-holder with 224 catches for 3,486 yards and 31 touchdowns. His 224 career receptions broke the former NAIA national record of 183. McGeorge tied the single-season school record for most points scored (88) and set a record for most touchdowns scored with 13. Twice named his conference’s Most Valuable Player, he set single-season marks of 65 grabs and 1,081 yards, and single-game records of 15 catches, 285 receiving yards and four touchdowns. He was a two-time first-team All-America selection.
Said Elon head coach Red Wilson of McGeorge: “In addition to his being an outstanding receiver, he was the best blocker on the team. His uncanny ability to come down with the pass, regardless of how many defenders are around him, is amazing. He is truly an All-American player and the greatest end I have ever coached.”
McGeorge’s star also shone in basketball. He was Elon’s leading scorer and rebounder as a sophomore, and he scored 1,044 career points and amassed 688 rebounds – averages of 13.7 and 9.1, respectively. He made 58.9 of his field-goal attempts, a record that stood for 42 years.
As both a junior and senior, he received the prestigious Basnight Outstanding Athlete Award Winner. The pass-snagging McGeorge also was the MVP in the Carolinas Conference twice while setting school, conference, district and NAIA national records during his four-year career. He was later selected to play in the North-South All-Star football game in Miami.
McGeorge was chosen with the 16th pick in the first round of the 1970 NFL draft by the Green Bay Packers. He enjoyed a nine-year career, earning the team’s Offensive Player of the Year honors in 1973. In 114 career games, his total receiving yardage stood at 2,370, and he averaged 13.5 yards per catch. Considered both a premier receiver and blocker, McGeorge pulled in more passes (175) than any other tight end in Green Bay’s annals. At the end of his career, only six players in the storied franchise’s 60-year history had caught more passes than the sure-handed McGeorge.
After retiring from the Packers, McGeorge pursued a coaching career, mainly as an assistant. He held stints at Duke under Red Wilson – one of his coaches at Elon – and Steve Spurrier, at Florida under Spurrier, with the Miami Dolphins under Don Shula and Jimmie Johnson, and then later again at Duke under Carl Franks. He also later served under coaches Rod Broadway and Darrell Asberry at North Carolina Central and Shaw, respectively.
McGeorge was inducted into the Elon Sports Hall of Fame in 1979, and the school has retired his number 85 football jersey. He also was inducted into the NAIA Sports Hall of Fame in 1980 and the College Football Hall of Fame in 2012.
Mike Quick was born in Hamlet, North Carolina, the youngest boy of Mary Quick’s nine children. A gifted athlete, he excelled at football, basketball and track at Richmond Senior High School in Richmond County, NC and earned a football scholarship to North Carolina State. The first round pick of the Philadelphia Eagles in the 1982 draft, Quick spent his entire NFL career – nine seasons – with the Eagles. Over five consecutive seasons (1983-87), he caught more touchdown passes (53) than any other NFL player; was ranked third in yardage and voted to the Pro Bowl five times. Retired since 1991, Quick is a color analyst for Eagles radio, an avid golfer and active in the community. He is the father of 18-year-old twin sons. [more…]
Wray Carlton played his last football game in 1968 [more…]
Henry “Blacky” Trevathan is an inspirational and highly disciplined leader whose legacy as a legendary football coach cements a remarkable influence on the game and the players he coached. [more…]
North Carolina’s Don McCauley led the ACC in rushing in 1969 and 1970 and was the league’s Player of the Year both seasons.
As a senior in 1970 he ran for 1,720 yards, breaking the NCAA single-season record. He led the nation in all-purpose running, touchdowns and points. He became the first ACC running back to be named a consensus All-America.
He saved his greatest performance for his last game in Kenan Stadium, rushing for 279 yards and scoring five touchdowns in a 59-34 win over Duke.
McCauley is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame. He was an easy choice for the ACC’s Silver Anniversary team.
He was a first-round NFL draft choice and had an 11-year career with the Baltimore Colts.
Ricky Proehl is the owner of Proehlific Park, a family sports complex in Greensboro, NC. The complex for families is a way for Ricky to have a positive influence on the lives of young men and women. Ricky is likely best known for all of his achievements in football. He is a Wake Forest graduate and still holds the school’s records for receiving yards and touchdowns. After college Ricky played 17 years in the NFL. One of his most memorable moments was catching the winning touchdown at the NFC championship game sending the Rams to Super Bowl XXXIV. Proehl played in 4 Super Bowls winning two; one with the Rams and the other with the Colts. Ricky Proehl was born in the Bronx, NY. [more…]
One of North Carolina’s most celebrated athletes, Jim Donnan’s youth was spent in Asheville and Burlington where he excelled on the state level in football, basketball, tennis and table tennis. His stellar career at N.C. State brought many honors: ACC Player-of-the-Year, 1967 Liberty Bowl MVP, H.C. Kennett Outstanding Student-Athlete Award, and ACC All-Academic Team in 1966-67. Donnan was inducted into the Alamance Hall of Fame in 2008. After working in several collegiate programs including Oklahoma, Donnan became head coach in 1990 for Marshall winning the 1992 national title and the 1994 Southern Conference Championship. As Head Coach at Georgia from 1995-2000, he is credited for bringing the Bulldogs back to the upper echelon of the SEC. Donnan received numerous career coaching honors: Division I-AA Coach of the Year in 1992 and 1995, and SEC Coach of the Year in 1997, and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2009. He continues to contribute to the game as a sought-after radio and television commentator. [more…]
The Lincolnton native was the dominant NC State defensive lineman from 1965-67 and the Wolfpack’s first consensus football All-America (1967). Byrd was the first three-time All-ACC player and NC State retired his #77 jersey in 2002. He was a 1968 first round draft pick of Boston Patriots, but injuries forced early retirement. Byrd was also named to ACC’s 50th Anniversary team in 2003. Byrd died July 23, 2010 and will be inducted posthumously into the College Football Hall of Fame in December. [more…]
He played in 4 post-season all-star games. He played in the AFL with San Diego and led the league in interceptions in 1962. With Oakland he led the AFL in punt returns in ’63 and ’64. His college coaching career started with NC State in 1967 as defensive backs coach; three years as head coach at Tulsa; and 10 years as head coach at Mars Hill College. [more…]
Hardison, a Newton Grove native, was the first UNC defensive player who was not a two-way performer to earn 1st team All-America honors. In 1977 he led the Tar Heels to the number one scoring defense ranking (7.4 ppg), allowing just 10 TD’s in eleven games. Hardison started every game during his three year UNC career. He had a 10-year career in the NFL with Bills, Giants, Chargers, and Chiefs. [more…]
Leo Hart was a standout quarterback for Duke University, 1968-70. The Kinston native passed for 6,116 yards in his Duke career. In 1968 Hart became the first player in ACC history to pass for 2,000 yards in a season. Hart is the only quarterback to be voted first-team All-ACC three times, the only player to lead the ACC in passing yardage three seasons, and the only player to lead the ACC in total offense three seasons. Following a brief career in the NFL, Hart settled in Atlanta, where he became a successful businessman. [more…]
In 1974 Huff was a 1st Team All-ACC and Consensus All-American Offensive Lineman at UNC. He won the Jacobs Blocking Trophy, Jim Tatum Medal, two time recipient of the Bill Arnold Award, Captain of the College All-Stars and came in 2nd for the Outland Trophy Award. Huff lead UNC to an 11-1 Atlantic Coast Conference championship and set school total offense records. In 1975 he earned a degree in Psychology and was the 3rd pick in the first round of the NFL draft. Huff played 11 years in the NFL and was one of the “Hogs” with the Redskins in the 1983 Super Bowl. [more…]
Willie Burden is a product of Raleigh’s Enloe High School and North Carolina State. As a star running back for the Wolfpack, he became one of the school’s leading ground gainers in history and was named ACC Player of the Year in 1973. Turning down draft opportunities with both the Detroit Lions and the Portland Storm of the defunct World Football League, Burden took his talents to Canada and became one of the CFL’s all-time football stars. He carried the ball for 6,234 yards in his career with the Calgary Stampeders, including 1896 in 1975 when he became the CFL’s Most Outstanding Player. He has been chosen as one of the league’s 50 greatest stars and is a member of the CFL’s Hall of Fame. [more…]
Bartholomew excelled on the football fields from Rocky Mount to Canada before a knee injury ended his playing career in 1956. He earned All-State honors at Rocky Mount High School and was a three-time All-ACC selection at Wake Forest. The Deacons’ captain was named a first team All-America in 1954. He returned to Wake Forest in 1969 and served 16 years as the Executive Director of the Deacon Club. Bartholomew died in 1984. [more…]
Fayetteville native had outstanding football career at E.E. Smith High, NC Central, and 14 years with San Diego. Chargers lineman of the year 7 times and played in 3 NFL Pro-Bowls. [more…]
Played 14 seasons with Dallas Cowboys and was charter member of the famed “Doomsday Defense.” Played in four Super Bowls and a total of 23 playoff games, more than any other player in NFL history to that point. Played college football at Elizabeth City State. [more…]
Brought the NFL to North Carolina in 1993 as owner of the Carolina Panthers. Spring Hope native was a football star at Fayetteville High School and Wofford College. Caught a TD pass for Baltimore in 1959 NFL championship game. [more…]
NC State football All-America in 1978 and 1979. Won Outland Trophy in ’79 as nation’s best offensive lineman. Had 14-year NFL career at Buffalo and played in 4 Super Bowls. Was all-pro three times. Member National Football Hall of Fame (1998). [more…]
Played high school football in Greensboro and earned All-America honors at Minnesota. Was one of the premier ends in NFL with the Detroit Lions for 10 years, during which time he caught 336 passes, including 31 for touchdowns. [more…]
All-America tackle at Wake Forest. Drafted by Washington Redskins, played one season in NFL, then moved to Canadian League and made All-Pro five times and led Montreal to 3 Division titles and Grey Cup berths. [more…]
Averaged 6.9 yards per carry in three years at University of North Carolina. Was a basketball, baseball, and swimming star at Cullowhee High School. Played 5 years with Washington Redskins. Received the NFL’s Alumni Career Achievement Award in 1999. [more…]
All-America end at UNC-Chapel Hill 1946-49, which became known as the Justice-Weiner era. Matched NCAA record (at the time) with 52 receptions in 1949. Helped lead UNC to three major bowls. Member College Football HOF. [more…]
Duke All-America tackle and winner of the 1959 Outland Trophy as the country’s top interior lineman. Played professionally for the St. Louis Cardinals, 1960-62. Head coach at both Duke & East Carolina. AD at Cincinnati, Southern Cal and South Carolina. [more…]
Outstanding football player at Lenoir Rhyne. Had successful career as football coach at Hickory High, posting a 273-120-5 record, including 12 conference titles, during a 31-year tenure. NCHSAA HOF member. [more…]
All-Southern Conference selection at Wake Forest before pro career with New York Giants. Served six years as coach of Calgary in Canadian Football League. Coached team to Grey Cup title in 1971. Member Wake Forest Sports HOF. [more…]
Set single- season school records for pass receptions and TD catches at Wake Forest. Played two seasons in NFL, eight in Canadian League, as a star receiver with Montreal Alouettes. Ottawa and Montreal won four Grey Cup titles while he was general manager. [more…]
Shelby native and a two-time All-America football player at University of Minnesota. Won Outland Trophy. Nine times All-Pro with Kansas City Chiefs. Played in two Super Bowls. Elected to NFL HOF in 1983 and College Football HOF in 1992. [more…]
Winston-Salem native who gained All-America football honors at Minnesota. Played 16 seasons in the NFL, missing only one of 197 games. Made four Super Bowl appearances with Minnesota Vikings. Was a defensive end on four All-Pro teams. [more…]
All-America back at Duke (1934-46). NFL Most Valuable Player with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1940, member College Football Hall of Fame. Also played shortstop for Philadelphia Athletics, coached Duke baseball team and managed in minor leagues. [more…]
In 2003 Bethea became the first player from North Carolina A&T State University to be inducted in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The 3-time Aggies All-America was drafted by Houston. Bethea played in 210 games during his long career in Houston, including a stretch of 135 consecutive. He started at defensive end in the 1968 season opener and didn’t miss a game until breaking his arm in a game against the Oakland Raiders in 1977. He led the team in sacks six times, finishing his career with 105 unofficial sacks. He played in the two AFC Championship games. [more…]
Three-sports star at Wilmington’s New Hanover High. Consensus All-American quarterback at N.C. State 1960 & 1961. Twice ACC Player-of-Year. Had 17-year NFL career with LA Rams and Eagles. NFL MVP in 1969. Member College Football HOF. [more…]
All-America tackle at Duke in 1943. Also played at Wake Forest and later served as Wake Forest athletics director. Played with Chicago Bears four years, including one NFL championship season and three second-place finishes. [more…]
High Point native and one of the most productive runners in N.C. State and ACC history, rushing for 4,602 yards and scoring 51 touchdowns. Chosen first team All-ACC four straight years. First-round NFL draft choice in 1979 and played 8 seasons with Minnesota Vikings. [more…]
Captain and center for the 1938 unbeaten-untied-unscored on Duke Blue Devils until 7-3 loss to Southern Cal in Rose Bowl. Named to National Football HOF. Served as assistant AD at Duke until resigning in 1953 to enter private business. [more…]
Jimmy Clack was an outstanding high school athlete in Rocky Mount in the 1960s. He made the Shrine Bowl football team and later won the Bill George Award as the ACC’s best blocker during his career at Wake Forest. Clack was an offensive lineman on two Pittsburgh Steelers Super Bowl teams (IX and X). He played in 146 NFL games between 1971-1981. Died April 7, 2006 in Greensboro after a long battle with cancer. [more…]
A three-sport athlete at Wilmington’s New Hanover High, and later a quarterback & defensive back at Duke. Led Blue Devils to two ACC titles and a spot in 1954 Orange Bowl. A NFL legend with stops at Philadelphia & Washington. In NFL HOF [more…]
Kinston native who starred in football at Clemson. Spent eight years with San Francisco 49ers where he had 50+ receptions over seven consecutive years. Sports Illustrated Player-of-the-Year in 1986. Former Vice-President of Football Operations with 49ers. [more…]
Asheville native became one of the most exciting football players in the State’s history. Led UNC-Chapel Hill to two Sugar Bowls and one Cotton Bowl. Played four seasons with Washington Redskins. Member College Football HOF. [more…]
During a football game in against Bogue Field’s military team, Duke’s George Clark suffered two fractured bones in his back. But two weeks later he was back at tailback, cracking through Wake Forest’s defense for a then school record 214 yards rushing and helping spark a 26-19 Blue Devils victory. [more…]
Davidson College football great during the early 1930s where he earned All-America honors. Later served as coach and athletic director at Lees McRae College following one season in the NFL with the New York Giants. [more…]
The Mount Airy native accounted for 3,710 yards of offense as a single wing tailback at Duke from 1948-50. Two-time selection to All-Southern Conference team. Played three years with the Washington Redskins before retiring in 1955. [more…]
Linebacker on Miami Dolphins 1972 and 1973 Super Bowl champions. Boone native was running back at Duke before moving to linebacker. All-ACC in 1965 and 1966. Miami’s famed “53 defense” was named for his jersey number. [more…]
One of the all-time great football players to play at Duke and the first native North Carolinian to earn All-America honors. Played tackle and end for the Blue Devils, 1931-33. Later played two years of pro ball with the Chicago Bears. [more…]
Leading scorer and MVP on 1939 Duke football team. Went on to become an immediate pro star in the NFL. A first-round draft choice by the Chicago Bears, he returned a kickoff 93 for TD in his first pro game. Member both College and Pro HOF. [more…]
Wilson native who led Fike High School to three consecutive 4A football titles (1967-69). Scored 4 TDs in 1967 championship game and 237 yards rushing in 1969 win. Fullback at East Carolina with 37 TD’s and 2,889 yards rushing in three years. [more…]
One of N.C. State’s greatest athletes, earning 16 letters during his college career. Captained both the 1928 football and basketball teams. Enjoyed a successful tenure as a coach and athletic director at Rollins. [more…]
Standout guard and linebacker at UNC-Chapel Hill and the first Tar Heel named to an All-America football team, 1934. Later served as head coach at Washington & Lee before returning as head coach at UNC in 1953. [more…]