The Greatest University of West Alabama Football Players of All Time

Bleacher ReportContributor IIIJanuary 21, 2012

The Greatest University of West Alabama Football Players of All Time

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    When people think of football in the state of Alabama, the Crimson Tide and Auburn immediately come to mind. Many have never heard of the University of West Alabama, located in Livingston, just an hour's drive from Tuscaloosa.

    As a alum of the University of West Alabama, I wanted to give my school some much-needed recognition.

    The UWA football program has not been as successful as it was in the past. Still, we have had numerous athletes with stand-out collegiate careers who've made their way to the professional ranks.

    Several of our athletes never received an opportunity. UWA also has produced athletes who transitioned into the coaching ranks.

    Here is a list of the greatest football players in school history.

Charles "Too Mean" Martin (Class of 1982)

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    The late Charles “Too Mean” Martin played defensive tackle for UWA (then known as Livingston University) from 1980-82. In a recent interview with the Chicago Tribune, former Livingston coach Joe D’Alessandris, current offensive line coach for the NFL’s Buffalo Bills, stated “He was a rare athlete who went full speed all the time. I don’t think it’s fair to remember Charles Martin any other way.”

    D’Alessandris also reflected on how Martin practiced with such a fierce intensity that the coaching staff removed him from the kickoff team to prevent injuries to teammates.

    Martin's pro career began when he was drafted in the 15th round of the 1983 United States Football League's (USFL) draft by the Birmingham Stallions.

    In his first and only season with the Stallions, Martin played in all of the team's 14 games, two of them as starter. He tallied 27 tackles. In 1984, Martin was signed as a free agent by the Green Bay Packers.

    Martin, unfortunately, is most remembered as causing a season-ending injury to Chicago Bears starting quarterback Jim McMahon on November 23, 1986, as well as the white hand towel with a list of Bears offensive players’ numbers, which he wore during the game.

    After a McMahon interception, Martin grabbed him from behind and body-slammed him to the ground. Replays showed that Martin hit McMahon at least two seconds after the pass was thrown, well after McMahon was out of the play. McMahon landed full force on his previously injured shoulder.

    Martin was ejected from the game, suspended for two games and fined $15,000. This was the first multi-game suspension for an on-field incident in modern NFL history, and would remain the longest suspension for an on-field incident until Albert Haynesworth was suspended five games for stomping on the head of Dallas Cowboys center Andre Gurode in 2006.

    The hand towel was saved after the game, but remains still missing.

    He concluded his career as a member of the Houston Oilers (1987), Atlanta Falcons (1988) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1989-1990). Chronic high blood pressure ended his NFL career in 1990.

    Martin died in 2005 at age 45, due to complications from kidney failure. Doctors allegedly told his family that this was a result of Martin’s spleen being ruptured. Prior to his death, Martin was unemployed and living off his NFL pension.

Buddy Nix (Class of 1961)

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    Buddy Nix played fullback and linebacker for West Alabama from 1957-1961, where he twice earned All-Conference.

    Nix’s coaching career began as a graduate assistant football coach on the University of Alabama’s 1961 National Championship team. A year later he moved on to coach in the Alabama (Eufaula and Anniston) and Georgia (Jonesboro) high school ranks until 1969.

    While serving as a assistant football coach under Bill Rutherford at Anniston High School, Nix was also the school’s athletic director.

     In 1969 Nix served as the secondary coach at Carson-Newman before returning to UWA as the defensive coordinator in 1970 and 1971. His defense played a major role in leading the Tigers to their first and only national championship in school history.

    After short assistant coaching tenures at Southern Mississippi (1972-1975), Auburn (1976-1980) and LSU (1981-1983), Nix received his first collegiate head coaching job at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. He was the only UTC coach to guide the Mocs to a playoff berth.

    Also during his tenure at UTC, Nix was responsible for signing Terrell Owens who, like Buddy himself, was an Alabama native. However, Nix and Owens only spent one season together. UTC fired Nix after the Mocs finished 2-9 during the 1992 season.

    He then transitioned into NFL scouting as a regional scout and later Southeast director for the Buffalo Bills. In 2000, San Diego Chargers General Manager Bill Beathard retired, and Bills GM John Butler was hired as his replacement.

    Nix decided to follow Butler to San Diego.

    Initially Nix was the Chargers Director of Player Personnel. When Butler passed away from cancer in 2003, however, AJ Smith was promoted to GM and Nix was named the assistant GM.

    On January 26, 2009, he returned to the Bills as a National Scout. Eleven months later Nix was hired at the team’s new GM.

Jack Jones (Class of 1951)

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    Jack Jones was a three-sport (football, basketball and baseball) athlete for West Alabama from 1947-1951.

    Jones received many athletic honors, including being named Captain and Most Valuable Player his senior year in football as well as being selected Little All-America.

    Those accolades and a stellar three-year career at running back led Jones to be selected to play for the South team in the 1951 Senior Bowl. Jones carried the ball only once in the game for a gain of eight yards. 

     A few months later he was drafted by the Cleveland Browns. Tragically a severe ankle injury ended his career before he ever played a down for the Browns.

    Two years Jones tried to make a comeback, but the injury still placed a limit on his ability to run. Therefore, he gave up his dream and transitioned into coaching.

    At age 23, Jones was hired as the head football and basketball coach at Livingston High School. After two years there, he was hired to serve as the baseball, football and junior high basketball coach at Brookwood High School in Birmingham, Ala.

    Jones later ended up back at his alma mater West Alabama as head coach of the men’s basketball and baseball team. Jones is currently ranked fourth all-time with 56 wins as head coach of the men’s basketball team.

    He also was an assistant coach for the football team under Ray Richeson. This allowed him to eventually form a close friendship with legendary Alabama head coach Bear Bryant.

    Bryant, who had a tendency to over-recruit, would convince players who wanted to play for Alabama but he didn’t have enough scholarships for, to sign with UWA (then Livingston State).

    Jones remained in Livingston for 10 years.

    Jones has since earned his Ph.D. from Indiana University and taught at Rhode Island and Pennsylvania University as well as Castleton State College in Vermont. He resides in Wilton, Connecticut and works as a fitness trainer.

Reverend Ken Hutcherson (Class of 1973)

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    Reverend Ken “The Hutch” Hutcherson played linebacker for the University of West Alabama from 1970-73.

    He was a starting outside linebacker for the Tiger’s 1971 NAIA National Championship team, and was an All-American both his junior and senior seasons. He was the NAIA National Player of the Week in 1972 when he made 21 tackles against Southern State.

    Hutcherson was named Gulf South Conference “Defensive Player of the Year” in 1972, and was an All-GSC and All-Alabama Small College selection in 1972 and 1973.

    Hutcherson was drafted in the fourth round of the NFL draft by the Dallas Cowboys in 1974, and played five years in the NFL, spending time with Dallas, San Diego and Seattle

    Hutcherson gained worldwide fame when he became pastor at Antioch Bible Church in Kirkland, Washington and in his role as a prominent anti-gay-rights activist. He was one of the leading campaigners on a failed attempt to recall the state’s domestic partnership law.

    Starting in 2005, Hutcherson also had a war with Microsoft over their support of the Washington state anti-discrimination House Bill 1515.

    In June 2010, Rush Limbaugh made a shocking decision to ask Elton John to sing at his fourth wedding and Hutcherson to preside over the wedding.

Lawrence Samuels (Class of 1992)

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    After his career in Livingston, Samuels left his mark in the Red and White record books.

    He is tied for seventh all-time in receptions at UWA with 89 for 1,426 yards, and holds two of UWA’s individual career performances with 185 yards against Albany State (third-most in a game) and 182 yards against Jacksonville State (fourth-most in a game) both in 1992.

    Samuels is also part of the seventh-longest pass play in school history, as he caught an 84-yard pass from Marty Washington in the Albany State game in 1992.

    Since his collegiate career, Samuels has become the all-time reception leader in the AFL with 1,020 and is fifth all-time in professional football (CFL, NFL, USFL and WFL).

    He has tallied 135 consecutive games with a reception, also first the AFL. He ranks fifth all-time in receiving yards (11,708), is 16th all-time in all-purpose yards (12,287) and 13th in tackles (484).

    He has played 203 games in 15 seasons and is a three-time ArenaBowl Champion, a two-time All-Ironman Team member, a four-time All-Arena Team selection and nine-time AFL Ironman of the Week.

    He also is the first player to be named the Arena Bowl XVII MVP and Ironman of the Game. In the offseason, he is a high school teacher. 

    Samuels is currently the wide receivers coach at Central State University, a historically black university located in Ohio.

Stanley King (Class of 1977)

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    Stanley King, a native of Auburn, Ala., played football for West Alabama from 1976-1978. He was named Gulf South Conference “Defensive Player of the Year” in 1975 and was a three-time All-GSC selection.

    In three seasons at UWA, the transfer from Kentucky State University totaled 215 solo tackles, 106 assists and 15 interceptions from the defensive back position. In the 1978 Senior Bowl, King intercepted two passes.

    King went undrafted in the 1978 NFL draft. He soon signed with the Oakland Raiders, where he played briefly.  He then began what turned into a long coaching career.

    His first stint was at Tuskegee High. King remained there until joining fellow UWA alum Buddy Nix’s staff at the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga.

    After Nix was fired, he went on a short coaching hiatus. Soon King was hired as the defensive backs coach at Southern Illinois University.

    It is unknown what he is doing in the present day.

Kenneth Watson (Class of 1988)

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    Kenneth Watson was to the Livingston University (UWA) football team in the mid-1980s what Stanley King was in the 1970s. Their style of play was eerily similar.

    In addition, both played defensive back and were dangerous return men. They are tied for most career interceptions in school history (15).

    Watson was a four time All-Gulf South Conference selection. He is eighth all-time in GSC history with 81 punt returns for a total of 690 yards.

    During his senior season, Watson tallied 49 tackles, nine pass deflections and one interception. He also returned 33 punts for 280 yards and no touchdowns.

    In May 1989, he signed with the Minnesota Vikings, but was cut prior to the preseason.

    Afterwards Watson began a long career in the Canadian Football League with the Calgary Stampede, Montreal Alouettes and Edmonton Eskimos, which extended from 1989-1996. He later returned and played one last season in 1999.

    Watson is currently the defensive backs coach at Miles College in Birmingham, Alabama.

Kendrick Office (Class of 2000)

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    Kendrick Office had a stellar career at Choctaw County High School in both football and basketball. Football just happened to be his preferred sport, which was justified by his play on the field.

    During his senior season, Office was on the radar of many colleges throughout the United States as he tallied 80 tackles and 20 sacks. Academic issues, however, derailed his quest for a Division I offer.

    Current Toronto Argonauts defensive coordinator Chris Jones remained loyal to Office and initially recruited him to play for Tennessee Tech. That was until West Alabama head coach, Bobby Johns, offered Jones a job on his coaching staff in the spring of 1997.

    Shortly after enrolling, Office was devastated to discover Jones had left UWA without telling him. Next to his grandparents who raised him, Jones was the only other person Office had grown to trust the most.  

    Nevertheless, Office stayed and started all 10 games as a true freshman, tallying 36 tackles and 3.5 sacks. By the time his collegiate career was over, he totaled 166 tackles (72 solo), 23 tackles for losses and 14.5 sacks.

    His accolades earned him a spot in the Kelly Tires Blue-Gray All-Star Classic, which no other player in school history had done. He also earned a spot in the Division II All-Star Game known as the Cactus Bowl.

    In both games combined, Office tallied six tackles and one sack. Office’s play gained him recognition with NFL scouts, one of whom was UWA alum Buddy Nix, who at the time was with the Buffalo Bills.

    The Kansas City Chiefs allegedly planned to avoid trying to sign Office as an undrafted free agent and instead draft him in the 2001 NFL draft. Instead they drafted another small-school defensive lineman, Terdell Sands out of Tennessee-Chattanooga.

    Office opted to sign as an undrafted free agent with the Bills. Despite a decent performance in the 2001 preseason, the Bills decided to cut him but wanted to add Office to the practice squad.

    Office spurned the Bills in favor of a practice squad offer with the Cleveland Browns. However, he returned to Bills later that season. Office was called up to the Bills 53-man roster after a season-ending injury to veteran and team leader Phil Hansen.

    In his first-ever NFL game on Nov. 11, 2001, Office and the Bills played against the New England Patriots before a sold-out crowd at Foxboro Stadium.

    Office received significant playing time and sacked Tom Brady twice. He finished the season with 17 tackles and three sacks. Office earned the starting left defensive end position entering the 2002 season and seemed set to keep it beyond that.

    However, constant injuries held him back from doing so. Office was cut after the 2002 season. He hasn’t been in the NFL since.

    In 2007, he signed with the AFL’s San Jose SaberCats midseason and was a part of the team that won an Arena Bowl Championship.

    Office is currently working to get into coaching

Tony Oglesby (Class of 1986)

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    Tony Oglesby was a four-time letterman and three-year starter at linebacker for the Tigers from 1983-1986.

    Three years after graduating, he returned to team as a student assistant in charge of outside linebackers.

    The following year. North Greenville Junior College hired Oglesby as co-defensive coordinator. He was once again on the move in 1992.

    This time he was hired by former Gulf South Conference foe, West Georgia, to coach linebackers and defensive ends. It gave Oglesby a chance to return home. He remained for six years before returning to UWA.

    Oglesby applied to become the new UWA head football coach in 2000 and seemed like the leading candidate, but the job shockingly went to Middle Georgia College head coach Randy Pippin.

    The UWA coaching search committee was won over by how the 37-year-old led Middle Georgia to a 51-15 record over three years and his experience as an offensive and defensive coordinator.

    Oglesby’s strong dedication to UWA football and ability to relate with and motivate players worked in his favor. However, the committee felt Pippen’s resume proved he could produce an immediate improvement in the team’s constant lackluster performance. Nevertheless, Oglesby remained on staff.

    When Bobby Wallace was hired as head coach, he noticed Oglesby’s loyalty to the team and promoted him to assistant head coach.

    After Will Hall was hired as head coach in 2010, Oglesby left UWA and accepted the assistant head coach/defensive ends coach position at Miles College in Birmingham, Alabama.

    Oglesby is still waiting on an opportunity to become a head coach someday.

Kenneth Oglesby (Class of 1983)

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    Tony's older brother, Kenneth, originally did not like the small town atmosphere of Livingston, Alabama. Therefore only Kenneth and his brother know the true reason why he chose UWA over schools like Tennessee Chattanooga and West Virginia.

    A three-year letter winner, Oglesby became the starter at defensive tackle as a sophomore. He totaled 107 tackles and nine sacks heading into his senior season. At 6-feet-3, 253 pounds, Oglesby ran the 40-yard dash in 4.9 seconds.

    His senior year stats couldn't be found, but the Arizona Wranglers of the United States Football League signed Oglesby in 1983. He was cut soon after, and signed with the Hamilton Tigercats of the Canadian Football League

Matt Carman (Class of 1993)

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     Matt Carman was an All-Gulf South Conference and All-American football player during his time at UWA.

    Carman is the UWA career leader in receptions (172). He also holds the school record for receptions in a game (19) and held the record for receiving yards in a game (194) until 2002, when the mark was eclipsed by All-American Kyle Henderson.

    Carman turned in a brilliant senior season in 1993, catching 88 passes for 1,085 yards and 14 scores. He hauled in a school record five touchdown passes against Delta State in 1993, a mark that still stands.

    After his stellar career at UWA, Carman played two injury-riddled seasons in the Arena Football League for the Albany Firebirds and New Jersey Red Dogs, respectively.

Andrew Fields (Class of 1985)

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    Andrew Fields was a standout wide receiver for the Tigers under head coaches Frank North (1983-84) and Sam McCorkle (1985).

    In his best season at West Alabama in 1984, Fields hauled in 55 receptions for 856 yards and 11 touchdowns on his way to earning First-Team Kodak All-American honors.

    Fields caught 116 passes for 1,837 yards over his career. He was an All-Gulf South Conference selection in 1983 and 1984, and his 24 touchdowns set a UWA record at the time.

    In addition to being a standout receiver, Fields was also one of the most prolific punt returners in school history. His 550 punt return yards during his career still stands third all-time, and 311 of those yards came on 31 returns in 1983, which is still the best mark in UWA history. 

Herbie Malone (Class of 1973)

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    Herbie Malone played defensive tackle for West Alabama from 1971-73, and led the Tigers to a 1971 NAIA National Championship. Malone was twice named All-GSC, three times tabbed All-Alabama Small College and once named NAIA All-American.

    He missed most of the 1973 season with a broken leg, but still signed a free-agent contract with the Atlanta Falcons.

Jackie O’Neal (Class of 1976)

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    Jackie O’Neal is the fourth-leading rusher in UWA history with 1,873 yards from 1973-76.

    A devastating blocker in the Tigers’ wishbone attack, O’Neal also scored 18 touchdowns in his career and still owns the record for the longest touchdown reception, 94 yards against Southeastern Louisiana in 1974. He helped guide UWA to a third-place finish in the nation in 1975.

    He has had an outstanding coaching career at Reeltown with two state championships and three runner-up trophies. He was an assistant coach at Reeltown for 10 seasons prior to taking over as head coach.

    O'Neal has made the state playoffs 18 times and was the Coach of the Year in 1991, 1992, 2000, 2001 and 2009. 

    He was also an assistant coach on Reeltown’s 1987 state championship team. O’Neal was selected to be the  head coach of the Alabama team in the Alabama/Mississippi All-Star Game in Mobile in 2009. 

Waldon Tucker (Class of 1969)

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    Waldon Tucker played football for West Alabama from 1966-69. For his career, Tucker caught 78 passes for 1,570 yards and 14 touchdowns, while averaging 20.13 yards per catch.

    Tucker had 10 catches against Troy State in 1968 and 173 receiving yards against North Alabama in 1969.

    He went on to coach high school football at Fayette County High School and at Gordo High School. Tucker won state championships at Fayette County in 1996 and Gordo High School in 1980.

Nels Strickland (Class of 1971)

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    Nels Strickland played middle linebacker on UWA’s 1971 NAIA National Championship team. He was named Most Valuable Defensive Player in the title game for his 15 tackles, seven assists and one interception.

    Strickland was the first West Alabama athlete to be named First Team All-American. He also holds the school record for longest interception return for his 100-yard return against North Alabama in 1971.

    Strickland was named All-Gulf South Conference first team his senior year and went on to play in the Canadian Football League for the Toronto Argonauts. Defensive coordinator Buddy Nix once cited that numerous NFL teams were interested in Strickland, but felt his small size would be a huge flaw in the pros.

Brett Gilliland (Class of 2003)

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    When Brett Gilliland arrived in 2000, nobody on the UWA coaching staff was quite sure of how great he would turn out to be. What the coaching staff did know is Gilliland was a coach's son who had loads of potential.

    When his collegiate playing career was officially over, he had earned a place as one of the top three quarterbacks ever to wear the Red and White.

    Gilliland owned the record for completion percentage in a single game, season and career. He accumulated 6,847 yards of total offense in 27 starts and 42 overall games, which was a career milestone that still stands in the UWA record books.

    Gilliland also was a regional finalist for the Harlon Hill trophy (D-2 equivalent to the Heisman trophy) in 2003. The winner was ironically the man who played for rival North Alabama and is the current head coach at UWA, Will Hall.

    Several of Gilliland’s records have since been broken by a UWA quarterback who will be discussed later.

    He earned All-Gulf South second team honors (2002), as well as all-region recognition from the Football Gazette (2002). He was also known as a stand-out student in the classroom and loved volunteering in the community.

    Gilliland was twice awarded the Phil Puccio Leadership and Dedication Award by his teammates in 2001 and 2003.

    Like other shorter quarterbacks before him, NFL scouts felt Gilliland wasn’t cut out for the league. Thus he wasn’t offered an undrafted free agent deal, which was a travesty. There is no guarantee he would’ve been a success in the NFL, but he at least deserved a chance to prove himself.

    Gilliland returned to UWA in 2005 to coach the wide receivers. He then spent several years at Georgia Tech as an assistant coach.

    When Georgia Tech special teams coordinator, Jeff Monken, was hired as head football coach at Georgia Southern in 2010, he offered Gilliland a spot on his coaching staff. Gilliland was recently promoted to tight ends coach.

Gerald Gales (Class of 2003)

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    Jackson-Olin High School in Birmingham, Alabama has produced a lot of talent over the years.

    Nobody will ever forget the name David Palmer and his career at Alabama. Beau Hankins is one of top linebackers in the 2012 recruiting class. Unless you are from Birmingham or long-time fan of UWA football, not many have heard of Gerald Gales.

    Gales had such a tremendous career at J.O.; he earned numerous Division I offers. He chose to follow in Palmer’s footsteps and sign with Alabama.

    After spending one season at Alabama as a redshirt, and realizing he would likely never get playing time, Gales transferred to West Alabama in 2000. He officially joined the football team a year later.

    With Bakari Bryant and Brett Gilliland splitting duties as starting quarterback, Gales had 43 catches for 510 yards and one touchdown. Nevertheless, it was still an impressive debut.

    The following season Gilliland assumed full-time starting quarterback duties, which allowed Gales to have a breakout season.

    He caught a school-record 96 passes for 994 yards and four touchdowns. It earned Gales numerous accolades, including becoming a finalist for the Harlon Hill trophy. However, he didn’t win.

    Gales was expected to have an even bigger senior season.

    He seemed on pace to do so after catching nine passes for 141 yards in a season-opening loss to Samford. Unfortunately in that same game, Gales suffered an injury that sidelined him for most of the season.

    Although he was able to return for the last three games of the season, Gales wasn’t able to make much of an impact. He concluded the season with 19 catches for 274 yards and two touchdowns.

    Overall, his 158 career receptions ranked Gales as second all-time in school history. He was also a dangerous return man. Gales holds the UWA career record for punt return touchdowns with three.

    Upon graduation from UWA, Gales signed a one-year deal with the Rome Renegades of the National Indoor Football League in 2005. In his first season, Gales led the Renegades in both receiving and kick returns with 60 catches for 674 yards and 34 kick returns for 675 yards. The Renegades re-signed him for the 2006 season.

    When the Renegades folded after the 2006 season, Jason Gibson, former head coach of NIFL league rival Chattahoochee Valley Vipers, remembered playing against Gales and how explosive of a player he was.

    When Gibson was hired as head coach of the Columbus Lions of the Southern Indoor Football League (SIFL), he offered Gales a contract with the team.

    In his first three seasons with Columbus, he totaled 178 receptions for 2334 yards and 45 touchdowns.

Josh Fatu (2003-2005), Jonathan Fatu (2003)

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    The Fatu brothers do not make this list because their careers at UWA. They make it to clear up a misunderstanding.

    WWE announcer Josh Matthews stated the brothers attended the University of Hawaii. Jonathan (Jimmy Uso) and his twin brother Josh (Jules/Jey Uso) actually attended and played linebacker for the University of West Alabama.

    Jonathan is listed as having played one season for the Tigers in 2003, while Josh was a member of the team from 2003-2005. Josh sat out the 2004 season for academic reasons. There is a possibility Jonathan transferred and attended UH after leaving the UWA football team.

    Prior to the 2005 season, UWA head football coach Sam McCorkle cited in a Tuscaloosa News article that Josh would be one of the players to watch. Unfortunately, the season didn’t go as Josh hoped it would.

    Realizing their football career was not heading down a desirable path, the Fatu brothers decided to join their father Solofa (Rikishi) and uncle, Eddie (Umaga), in the wrestling business.  

    After taking time to undergo wrestling training at the Wild Samoan Training Facility under great-uncle Afa Anoa’i, they debuted as a tag team at a World Xtreme Wrestling (WXW) show in 2007.

    Uncle Eddie and cousin Matt Anoa’i had also made their debut as a tag team with the promotion when they first entered wrestling.

    WXW is special to the Fatu and Anoa’i family because of an associated with Afa’s Wild Samoan Pro Wrestling Training Center in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Afa is widely known to wrestling fans for being a part of the tag team Wild Samoans with his brother Sika.

    The Fatu brothers were signed by the WWE in 2009 and sent to their developmental territory Florida Championship Wrestling.

    After only five months of wrestling in FCW, the brothers (now known as the Usos) won the promotion’s tag team titles from Joe Hennig (son of wrestling legend Mr. Perfect Curt Hennig) and Brett DiBiase (son of wrestling legend Ted DiBiase).

    Two months later the Usos were called up to the WWE main roster and placed on the Monday Night Raw roster. Compared to other wrestlers who spend years in FCW, the Fatu brothers’ rise to the main roster was one of the fastest ever. The promotion may have also been aided by family ties. (pg. 39)

Gerald Worsham (Class of 2011)

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    When UWA signed Gerald Worsham in 2008, it was perhaps one of the biggest steals in school history.

    The Minor High School (Birmingham, Ala) star had Division I talent and should have honestly been recruited harder by Division I schools.

    Problem was—slap me if you have heard this before—D-I schools felt he lacked what they looked for in a wide receiver.

    Another issue was recruiters felt he needed more bulk. Former UWA head football coach Bobby Wallace expressed the same concern about Worsham’s size and encouraged him to spend extra time in the weight room.

    Worsham was an immediate starter for a UWA football team that had went 1-9 in 2007. Aided by the signing of quarterback Deon Williams, the duo provided an instant spark. Sadly Williams suffered a season-ending injury after the third game of the season.

    UWA found itself experimenting with three different quarterbacks, which failed miserably. Thus a promising season went down the drain.

    Worsham’s numbers also took a huge hit. He finished with 37 catches for 329 receiving yards and five touchdowns. He also led the Tigers in punt returns with 13 attempts for 119 yards.

    The following season was much better than the first. Worsham was among a talented crop of UWA wide receivers and tallied 650 yards and three touchdown receptions.

    In 2010, Worsham became the team’s go-to receiver and didn’t disappoint.

    He totaled 1201 receiving yards with an average of 15 yards per catch and 11 touchdowns. He led the Gulf South Conference in receiving yards, and was named to the 2010 Don Hansen NCAA Division II All-Super Region Two team.

    This past season started with much excitement. Worsham had finally gained recognition from numerous NFL scouts. He was on pace to break several school records.

    There was also uncertainty. Former offensive coordinator Will Hall was set to take over as head coach. Deon Williams graduated and a new quarterback was set to take over as starter.

    Regardless, Worsham found a way to shine. He had 74 receptions for 873 yards and six touchdowns, setting new career records as expected.

    Worsham concluded his career as the all-time leader in receiving yards with 3,053, receiving touchdowns (25) and receptions (241).

    He is currently awaiting the possibility of receiving an NFL training camp invite after the 2012 draft.

Deon Williams (Class of 2010)

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    Deon Williams was a two-sport star (football and baseball) at Tuscaloosa County High School. He was also a three-time, All-state performer for the Wildcats.

    Upon graduation in 2006, he signed with fellow Gulf South Conference member Valdosta State University. He is listed as sitting out the season as a redshirt, but stats show he saw brief playing time in at least two games and had a 46-yard touchdown pass.

    Williams eventually grew unhappy at Valdosta and transferred to East Central Community College in Decatur, Mississippi.

    East Central head coach Terry Underwood was in the process of transitioning the offense from a West Coast style to a "run first" style offense, which fit Williams perfectly. As a result he was instantly named the starting quarterback.

    In Williams' first and only season with the Warriors, he played in seven of the team’s nine games, totaling a combined 971 all-purpose yards (724 yards passing and 247 rushing) and seven touchdowns.

    After a dismal 2007 season, UWA head football coach Bobby Wallace hired a new offensive and defensive coordinator. The new offensive coordinator, Will Hall, planned to install a spread offense. Deon Williams was once again the man selected to test out a new offense.

    The spread offense proved it could do great things for the remaining two years of Williams’ collegiate career. By the third game of the season, Williams led the team in total offense with 941 yards (838 yards passing and 103 rushing yards) and 11 touchdowns. However, what could have been a fantastic season was interrupted by a season-ending ACL tear.

    After receiving a medical redshirt, he threw for 2,804 yards and 25 touchdowns in 2009; leading the Tigers to their first playoff appearance in 34 years.

    Before his career officially concluded, Williams had already left his mark in the UWA record book.

    He finished with 7,034 passing yards, 60 touchdown passes, 778 yards rushing and 10 rushing touchdowns. His 7,034 passing yards and 7,812 yards of total offense broke the previous mark set by Brett Gilliland. Williams also set the UWA mark for most touchdown passes in a career.

Willie Slater (Class of 1977)

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    Willie Slater was a four-year starter at quarterback for West Alabama, then called Livingston College, from 1974-77 and helped the Tigers to a third-place finish in the 1975 NCAA Division II playoffs.

    He still ranks sixth in career rushing at the school with 1,582 yards and 20 touchdowns, and is ninth in career total offense with 2,081 yards. His 90-yard run against Troy State in 1975 still stands as the longest run from scrimmage.

    Slater began his coaching career as a graduate assistant coach at his alma mater, West Alabama, in 1978 and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in business education at the university in 1979.

    He also coached at the high school level, first at Jess Lanier High School in Bessemer, Ala. (1979-1980) before moving to T.R. Miller High School in Brewton, Ala. (1981-82). 

    Slater's first full-time position at the collegiate level was at Troy State, where he served as running backs coach under Chan Gailey from 1983-84. In total, he spent eight seasons with Trojans, also working as quarterbacks and running backs coach under Rick Rhoades (1985-87) and offensive coordinator under Robert Maddox (1988-90).

    Troy State went to the playoffs three times during his tenure and won NCAA championships in 1984 and 1987. Slater was cited as the Division II National Assistant Coach of the Year in both of the team's title campaigns.

    He worked as offensive coordinator at North Alabama for eight years (1992-1999), including five seasons under Wallace (1992-1997). During his stay in Florence, Ala., the Lions qualified for the NCAA playoffs five times and won three consecutive national championships from 1993-95.

    Slater was named the Division II National Assistant Coach of the Year in each of UNA's title seasons. In 1993, North Alabama had the country's top rushing offense, gaining 317.5 yards per contest.

    Slater joined the Jacksonville State staff under Jack Crowe from 2000 to 2003. JSU won the Ohio Valley Conference title with a 7-1 (8-4 overall) record in 2003.

    Slater rejoined Wallace in 2004 as offensive coordinator at Temple University. After a winless season in 2005, Wallace was fired after eight losing seasons. His entire staff was let go as well.

    After 29 seasons of coaching experience, including 27 years at the collegiate level, Slater was finally rewarded with a head coaching opportunity at Tuskegee University on January 17, 2006.

    In six seasons as head coach, Slater has an impressive coaching record of 55-12. His undefeated 2007 squad was declared Historically Black College and University National Champions.

    Tuskegee has also won three Pioneer Bowls under Slater’s leadership, including one his first season as head coach. The Pioneer Bowl is one of two bowl games between historically black colleges and universities.

Kevin Guy (Class of 1995)

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    Kevin Guy was a receiver for UWA from 1991-1995. Unfortunately, he played on the same team as Matt Carman. Therefore Guy isn’t remembered at UWA for his stats.

    He did, however, achieve a four-year career in the Arena Football League (AFL). Ironically, his professional career lasted longer than Carman’s did.

    As a player, Guy played four seasons with the Minnesota Fighting Pike (1996), the New Jersey Red Dogs (1997-99) and the Orlando Predators (1999). primarily as a WR/DB, and helped the Predators to advance to ArenaBowl XIII.

    Guy joined the coaching ranks following his AFL playing career. He started the 2000 campaign as the Defensive Coordinator with the New Jersey Red Dogs before, at only 26 years of age, being elevated to Interim head coach for the remaining four games of the season.

    His team ranked fourth in the AFL in total defense and fifth in pass defense. Over the final four games as jead coach, the Red Dogs scored an average of nearly 10 points a game more than the first 10 games.

    In 2001, Guy became the defensive coordinator of the Florida Bobcats of the AFL, where his defense held its opponents to fewer than 30 points a game twice and forced 26 turnovers on the year. The Bobcats also averaged six defensive stops per game.

    Before heading to Rio Grande, Guy served as head coach and football operations director of the Tennessee Valley Vipers, winning 39 of 48 regular-season games and claiming a division title in each season. During the 2003 campaign, the Vipers won their first 14 games and advanced to the Conference Championship game, earning Guy the Coach of the Year award.

    Guy spent 2005 as head coach and director of football operations for the Texas-based Rio Grande Valley Dorados, leading the club to a 10-6 regular season record and a trip to the league’s National Conference championship game.

    The Dorados’ last win in 2005, a 65-42 win over Tulsa in the playoffs, lifted Guy to the top of the league’s coaching leaders.

    When Guy joined the San Jose SaberCats in 2006, he left the af2 (arenafootball2) with the most wins in the history of the league. Guy amassed 52 career wins in his four seasons, averaging 13 victories a season.

    Under Guy, the SaberCats were known as one of the league’s best defensive squads and also advanced to the American Conference Finals in 2006. They also won the ArenaBowl that year. The SaberCats allowed the second-fewest points in the league, an average of only 47.6 points per game.

    The SaberCats finished fifth in the league in both yards allowed per game with 281.3 and in passing yards allowed with 266.2.

    Coach Guy’s defense also led the league in red-zone defense (71.4 percent), fumble recoveries (20), fumble returns (18), fumble return average (6.7) and interception returns for touchdowns (five). The SaberCats were also second in turnover margin (+21), fumble returns for touchdowns (five), first downs allowed (311), third in interceptions (22) and fourth in sacks (19).

    With the Arizona Rattlers in 2008, his first with the team, Guy successfully turned around one of the AFL’s most storied franchises after a few down years.

    After the team finished with the second-worst record in the league in 2007, Guy took over in 2008 and led the team to the third-best record in the conference and a first-round home-playoff game. He finished the year as one of only four coaches to receive votes for AFL Coach of the Year, and as the runner-up for the award.

    Guy built the team virtually from scratch, ending 2008 with only three players from the 2007 team and entering the season with nine rookies and seven second-year players. Guy joined the Arizona Rattlers on August 10, 2007.

    In 2011, Guy led the Rattlers to an Arena Football League record of 18 wins, guiding the squad to a West Division Championship, National Conference Championship and an ArenaBowl XXIV appearance. Guy garnered the 2011 NFL Network Coach of the Year award in due part to his guidance of the record-breaking squad.

    An arenafootball2 Hall of Fame inductee, Guy continues his illustrious career in Arena Football. A consistent winner, Guy owns a 73 percent winning percentage as a head coach (83-31).

    During Guy’s tenure as an af2 coach, his teams have been consistently ranked near the top of the major statistical categories while working with rosters that have experienced a high rate of turnover.

    Guy had 31 players in four years advance from the af2, with five joining the National Football League. He has also coached Ironman of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year and Lineman of the Year award winners while having 14 players earn All-af2 recognition.

    Guy is in his 12th season coaching in Arena Football, his eighth as a GM/Head Coach and his fourth in that position with the Arizona Rattlers.

Steve Hyche (Class of 1988)

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    Steve Hyche played for West Alabama from 1985-88 and earned All-Gulf South Conference and All-American honors in 1988.

    Over his career, he totaled 321 tackles (217 solo and 104 assisted), 20 tackles for a loss, three fumble recoveries, seven forced fumbles, four interceptions and six sacks. He was named to the UWA and GSC Team of the Decade for the 1980s and was selected to the GSC Silver Anniversary Team.

    Hyche was signed by the Chicago Bears in 1989. Unlike today’s NFL 53-man roster limit, the roster limit then was 47. Therefore, Bears head coach Mike Ditka placed Hyche on the developmental roster (practice squad).

    When Bears linebacker Dante Jones suffered a season-ending injury, Ditka promoted Hyche to the main roster and used him on special teams. Hyche ended up being cut from the team after suffering torn ligaments in his hand, which required surgery.

    Hearing that a new football league, World League of American Football, was being established and they would have a local team called the Birmingham Fire, Hyche tried out for the team and made the cut.

    While waiting on the season to start, Hyche temporarily took up semi-pro boxing in Jasper, Alabama and won several fights.

    The Bears re-signed Hyche after the Fire’s season ended. However, he was once again cut from the team.

    In 1991, Hyche signed with the Phoenix Cardinals. He saw playing time in 34 games, mostly on special teams and as a backup linebacker. During the 1993 season, he suffered a knee injury and was placed on injured reserve.

    When the season concluded, Hyche was cut from the team and never played in the NFL again.

Bill Johnson (Class of 1966)

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    Bill Johnson played football for West Alabama from 1963-66. As a senior, Johnson was the No. 3 punter in the nation with a 44.1 yard average per punt, while catching 49 passes for 973 yards and 12 touchdowns and being named Little All-American.

    Johnson spent seven seasons in the NFL with the Denver Broncos, New York Giants and Atlanta Falcons. He also played one year in the World Football League in Orlando, Fla.

Johnny Shepherd (Class of 1982)

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    Shepherd started his collegiate career at Liberty University, where he was the team-leading rusher in 1978 with 529 yards.

    He transferred to UWA where he was named Honorable Mention All-American in 1982, All-Gulf South Conference in 1981 and 1982 and is a member of UWA's Team of the Decade from the 1980s.

    He still sits atop the UWA career rushing chart with 2,057 yards on 387 carries and holds the career per-rush average (5.32). He also scored 26 rushing touchdowns in his career and scored 156 points.

    He owns the single-season record for rushing touchdowns with 13, rushing yards with 955, touchdowns scored with 15 and rushing attempts with 183. He also owns the single-game rushing record of 189 yards versus Tennessee-Martin in 1982.

    Undrafted by the National Football League, Shepherd headed to the Canadian Football League in 1983, where he played with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

    Rushing for 1,069 yards in his first season, he was an All-Star and winner of the CFL's Most Outstanding Rookie award. He played for two more seasons, but was hampered by injuries. Most notably, he scored a touchdown in 1985's 73rd Grey Cup, when Hamilton lost to the B.C. Lions.

    In 1987 he played two games for the Buffalo Bills as a strike-replacement player, rushing 12 times for 42 yards and catching one pass. He finished his career in the Arena Football League with the New York Knights in 1988, rushing 24 times for 85 yards, catching one pass, scoring five touchdowns and making 29 tackles.

Jerry Pitts (Class of 1975)

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    Jerry Pitts was a member of the UWA football team in 1971 and 1973-75. He was a member of the 1971 NAIA National Championship team under legendary head coach Mickey Andrews.

    His football accolades were many, including being named First-Team All-GSC twice (1974 and 1975) and First-Team NAIA All-American in 1975.

    He was also a two-time Birmingham Post-Herald All-Small College First-Team Selection (74-75). and earned two selections to the NAIA All-District 27 First Team (74-75). In 1974, he earned UWA (then Livingston University) Defensive Player of the Year honors and was a GSC Defensive Player of the Week recipient.

    During his senior season in 1975, Pitts helped lead the Tigers to a NCAA Division II Semifinal appearance in addition to being named AP Honorable Mention All-American and permanent defensive team captain. In 1980, he was named to the UWA Team of the Decade for the 1970s, and in 1989 he was named to the Lamar County Sports Hall of Fame.

    Since his playing days in Livingston, Pitts has spent 19 seasons as a high school football coach and 24 years as a high school baseball coach.

    Some of his stops include: Nettleton (Miss.) HS (current), Sulligent HS, South Lamar HS, Marion County HS, Cordova HS and Newnan (Ga.) HS. He currently has 335 wins as a head baseball coach and has taken 18 teams to the playoffs, complete with a state runner-up finish in 2001 (Sulligent HS).

Garry Pack (Class of 2008)

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    In 2006, former Ole Miss Head football coach Ed Orgeron dismissed starting linebacker Garry Pack from the team for being in possession of marijuana. At the time, Pack was a junior and third on the team in tackles with 48. His path to the NFL seemed highly promising.

    After a year away from college football, Pack resurfaced at UWA. In his first and only season with the Tigers, Pack started all 11 games at middle linebacker in 2008.

    He led the NCAA with 77 solo tackles (109 total) and was one of the 24 finalists for the Harlon Hill trophy. As expected, Pack went undrafted in the 2009 NFL draft and did not receive a training camp invite.

Ronnie Glanton (Class of 1988)

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    Ronnie Glanton finished at UWA in 1988 after starting four years at defensive tackle for the Tigers. He was named a first-team All-American by Football News and Associated Press in 1987 when he made 86 tackles, seven tackles for losses and nine sacks.

    He held the school record for career tackles behind the line of scrimmage with 51 (30 tackles for losses and 21 sacks). Glanton ended his career with 264 career tackles.

    He played two years in the Canadian Football League and was named the CFL’s Lineman of the Week for Hamilton in a playoff win over Winnipeg, when he made five tackles and three quarterback sacks.

    He coached six years at Americus (Ga.) High School and has been at Carrollton (Ga.) High School for the past 15 years. He helped lead Carrollton to the 1998 Georgia State Championship in football as defensive coordinator and has won seven Georgia State track-and-field championships.

Kenny Littles (Class of 1986)

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    Kenny Littles came to UWA as a walk-on from W.S Neal High School in Brewton, Alabama. In no time, he earned a scholarship and one of the starting defensive end positions.

    Littles was a three-year starter and a preseason All America pick by the Football News. He had 196 tackles, 30 sacks, 10 forced fumbles and 16 tackles for losses in his career.  He was a first-team All-Gulf South Conference selection in 1985 when he made 84 tackles, including nine tackles for losses and 13 quarterback sacks.

    His senior year in 1986 he was a first-team All-American as well as earning first-team All-Gulf South Conference again. He totaled 68 tackles that year with five tackles for losses and 11 quarterback sacks.

    Littles finished his career with 207 career tackles, 17 tackles for losses and 31 quarterback sacks.

    Littles was not only UWA’s first ever candidate for the Harlon Hill trophy, but among the 26 players who were nominated for the inaugural Harlon Hill trophy.

Fletcher Louallen (Class of 1983)

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    The 1983 Tiger defense was so good that it was labeled the “Legion of Doom”.  Senior Fletcher Louallen was considered the head “Legionnaire.”

    Louallen concluded the season with 43 tackles (three for a loss), two interceptions, 10 pass deflections and recovered a fumble.

    He was drafted by the Birmingham Stallions of the United States Football League, but asked to be released before the season was set to start. The Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the Canadian Football League offered Louallen a contract that was more appealing than what the Stallions could provide. The Blue Bombers cut him prior to the season.

    In 1986, Gene Stallings, who was head coach of the NFL’s St. Louis Cardinals, had heard about Louallen’s career at UWA and gave him a tryout with Cardinals. Louallen was released during the preseason.

    The following season, Louallen signed with the Minnesota Vikings and made the 47-man roster as a free safety. During the NFL strike, he became a temporary starter for three games and tallied one interception. Louallen was cut from the team in 1988.

Marty Washington (Class of 1993)

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    Most players who possess Washington's talent only end up at schools like UWA because of academic troubles, injury or transferring from a D-I program due to lack of playing time or being kicked off the team.

    Marty Washington was different.

    He was a quarterback and allowed no D-I schools to tell him otherwise. His confidence may have been his ultimate downfall, but Washington still went and out proved himself.

    After passing for 3,676 yards at Quartz Hill High School in Lancaster, California, Washington gained interest from several Division-I universities. Grambling State was his eventual choice.

    Washington changed his mind a short while later, however, because he did not like the option offense Grambling was running. There were also disagreements with some of the coach’s (legendary Eddie Robinson) philosophies.

    So instead he enrolled in Antelope Valley College, located in Lancaster. Washington once again threw for over 3,000 yards. He also passed for 28 touchdowns combined in two seasons.

    This time around he received heavy interest from Barry Alvarez and the Wisconsin Badgers. Thing was, Washington showed no interest in return. At the time, Wisconsin, like Grambling, ran the option offense. Alvarez wanted Washington to play from the athlete position instead.

    Washington of course held on to his desire to remain a pure passing quarterback. So he chose to sign with UWA because the coaching staff “respected his passing ability.”  Washington went on to break 19 school records in just 17 games!

    Among them are: pass completions in a game (42), season (221) and career (379), yards passing in a game (534), season (3,062) and career (5,018) and touchdown passes in a game (seven), season (26) and career (40). He set all his single-season marks in the 1993 season.

    Being that he suffered numerous injuries throughout his career and most scouts knowing he would not accept a position change in the NFL, Washington desired to play in the CFL and earn his way into the NFL like Warren Moon did.

    Several CFL teams—Winnipeg Blue Bombers, the British Columbia Lions and Calgary Stampeders—showed interest, but for unknown reasons Washington never ended up with in the CFL as planned. In fact, he did not play football ever again.

Clinton Washington (Class of 1999)

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    Clinton Washington was deemed “King of the Block” by the Tuscaloosa News for good reason. Washington blocked a combined total of 22 punts, extra points and field goals.

    It all started during his sophomore year at UWA.

    He was low on the depth chart and desired more playing time. So Washington asked the coaching staff to put him on special teams. Much to the coaching staff’s delight, it paid off. He blocked three kicks in his first game on the collegiate level.

    It was similar to Washington’s first game at Pelham High School in Birmingham, Alabama. He blocked four kicks and found it relatively easy to do.

    Washington finished his sophomore season with nine blocks. The following season, he blocked six more and earned more playing time at the strong safety position. At Pelham High, Washington was a lowly recruited cornerback. The UWA coaching staff switched him to strong safety.

    His reputation for blocking kicks became such an issue, UWA opponents began strategizing against Washington by stacking two or three players on his side of the line. Nevertheless, he was still able to block seven kicks during his senior season.

    Washington also earned the starting strong safety job his senior season. 

Elja Norris (Class of 1984)

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    Elja Norris was a two-year starter at linebacker for the Tigers after transferring from Mississippi Delta Junior College. He concluded his career with 154 tackles, four caused fumbles, three interceptions, three fumble recoveries and deflected two passes.

    Norris enlisted in the United States Army prior to his collegiate football career. He had committed to play football at Mississippi Valley State, but changed his mind.

    After his stellar career at UWA, Norris signed a one-year contract with the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League. The Stampeders re-signed him the following season.

Mitchell Price (Class of 1982)

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    Mitchell Price, a nose guard from Newberry, South Carolina, was a four-year lettermen and two-year starter for UWA.

    Price was a first-time All Gulf South Conference performer and was named Honorable Mention All-America. In his career, he tallied 112 tackles, four sacks and seven tackles for a loss.

    Price signed a pro contract with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the Canadian Football League in 1983.

Terry Allen (Class of 2009)

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    Terry Allen is listed in the UWA record book as a wide receiver, but he was more than that. Allen was an all-around athlete.

    During his freshman season in 2007, he broke the Gulf South Conference record for most kickoff return yards in a season with 1,061. Two years later Allen broke his own record with 46 kickoff returns.

    Allen also holds GSC records for most career kickoff returns (109) and return yards (2,545). In addition, he is the UWA all-time career kickoff return leader.

    Also in 2007, he was the team’s leading receiver with 16 catches for 161 yards and rushed for 402 yards. Allen saw time at the quarterback position as well, throwing for 111 yards.

    He was once again the leading receiver in 2008, tallying 451 yards and four touchdowns. His numbers would’ve likely been higher if not for Deon Williams’ injury and UWA’s lack of a stable replacement. In fact, Allen once again found himself starting at quarterback the last few games of the season.

    That season he also found his away in the UWA record book for two of the longest plays in school history, an 85-yard touchdown run (second all-time longest play) and a 84-yard touchdown reception (tied for sixth all-time).  Allen led the team in all-purpose yardage with 1,252 yards total and 10 touchdowns.

    He achieved the all-purpose yardage feat again in 2009. This time Allen garnered 1,758 yards and was third on the team in scoring (42 points).

    Allen didn’t return for his senior season, instead opting for a professional career. His presence on the team was sorely missed, especially on kick returns.

    Allen currently plays for the Rocket City Titans of the Premier South Football League (PSFL).

Kendrick May (Class of 2011)

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    If you watched the Oct. 27, 2011 edition of the ESPN top 10 plays, then you may be somewhat familiar with the name Kendrick “Big Play” May.

    Having Ken May and Gerald Worsham on the same team was a headache for every defensive coordinator the Tigers played against. Whenever the ball went into the air it was guaranteed one of them would not only catch it, but give defenders a workout trying to make sure they did not score.

    May’s role was more of a deep threat and speed guy, hence the nickname “Big Play.” He possesses such blazing speed that it sometimes became a flaw. May had a tendency to run before safely securing the ball, which led to a few drops.

    May came to UWA after playing two seasons at East Central Community College. In 2008, he was named the Warriors’ most valuable wide receiver after achieving 28 receptions for 404 yards and one touchdown.

    At East Central he was teammates with several players who would join him at UWA, among them long-time friend Deon Williams. May and Williams attended Tuscaloosa Central High School together, where they won a Regional title in 2005.

    During his career at UWA, May twice gained 681 receiving yards (1,362 total) and caught 11 touchdown passes. In his entire collegiate career, he tallied 102 catches, 1834 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns.

    Like Worsham, May is currently awaiting the possibility of receiving a NFL training camp invite.

Randy Lowery (Class of 2010)

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    Randy Lowery was never known for being a speed receiver, but one thing he did really well was make athletic highlight-reel catches.

    During his retirement speech, former UWA football head coach Bobby Wallace (who has since come out of retirement and returned to coach at North Alabama), said that “Randy Lowery made some of the best catches I’d ever seen as a coach.” In particular he pointed out an aerobic one-handed catch in a playoff game against Carson Newman.

    Lowery—who played two seasons for the Tigers—finished his career with 1,157 receiving yards and eight receiving touchdowns. The Red Bay, Ala. wide receiver was second on the team in receptions (51) and receiving yards (756) while earning All-Gulf South Conference second team honors in 2010. Lowery concluded the 2010 season ranked fifth in the conference with 4.6 receptions per game. 

    Lowery was selected to participate in the inaugural Dixie Grid Iron Classic Game after the season concluded.

Rocky Plaia (Class of 1964)

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    Rocky Plaia was a member of the baseball and football programs from 1960 through 1964. During his football career, Plaia was a two-way player at defensive back and quarterback for the Tigers.

    He led the Alabama Collegiate Conference in passing and was second in total offense during his junior season, garnering him second team all-ACC honors as he completed 60 of 120 passes for 703 yards in addition to rushing for 87 yards

    Plaia received more accolades for his senior campaign as he was named to the Birmingham Post-Herald All-Alabama Small College first team, selected as a member of the all-ACC first team and voted team MVP.

    Plaia went on to play in the Southern Professional Football League. As a baseball player, he started four years at shortstop and was named All-ACC all four seasons. 

J.D Douglas (Class of 2009)

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    Justin "J.D." Douglas was a highly recruited safety out of Prattville (Ala) High School. He decided to sign a letter of intent with UAB in 2006.

    However, his grades didn't meet the school's qualifications, so he ended up at Butler Community College and was expected to re-sign with UAB when his grades improved. That day never came.

    As talented as he was, Division-I recruiters couldn't ignore his academic status. So Douglas was instead forced to take the Division-II route.

    In two seasons with the Tigers, Douglas had 185 total tackles, three interceptions and nine pass break-ups. As a senior he led the Gulf South in tackles (131), averaging 10.1 per game, and was ranked 27th nationally. Douglas recorded a career-best 19 tackles in a game against conference foe Delta State.

    He was selected to play for the East All-Stars in the 2010 Valero Cactus Bowl in Kingsville, Texas. Douglas recorded four tackles and broke up a pass in the East's 16-0 loss to the West.

Kickers and Punters

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    Chris Hilliker (1988-1991) was the greatest punter in school history. It is highly unlikely his stats will ever be matched.

    A former quarterback at Hillcrest High School in Tuscaloosa, Ala, Hilliker was a two-sport star (football and baseball) at UWA. Hilliker's career concluded with 283 punts for 11,213 yards (an average of 39.30).

    Ben Thoma (2000-2003) was a three-time All-Gulf South Conference performer. Thoma was a first-team punter in 2001 and a first-team kicker in 2002. In 2002, Thoma was also named second-team punter.

    His first season at UWA, he was named second-team kicker. He holds the school record for longest punt (74 yards) and longest field goal (54 yards).

    Ronnie Slovensky (1972-1974) was the first kicker ever chosen All-American by the NAIA when he made 12-of-14 field goals and 26-of-26 extra points in 1974.

    He hit 28-of-37 field goals in his career and 64-of-66 extra points. Slovensky was a first-team All-GSC choice in 1974 and was named NAIA National Player of the Week that year when he kicked four field goals in a 12-10 upset over No. 1 Henderson State College.

    Mitch Warfield (2005-2008) is the UWA all-time leader in points scored (180). He also holds the school record for most extra points (111). As a sophomore, Warfield was a first-team selection by the American Football Coaches Association.

    Brock Sharp (2008-2011) served as both the Tigers’ punter and field goal kicker, as Thoma had previously done a few years earlier. He will be most remembered for the 44-yard game-winning field goal against then-undefeated and No. 1 North Alabama in 2009.

    The victory would earn UWA its first playoff berth in 34 years.

Leon Carlyle (Class of 1985)

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    Leon Carlyle finished his senior season with 146 tackles, three pass deflections, two sacks, two interceptions, two caused fumbles and one fumble recovery.

    Carlyle totaled 347 career tackles, and was the first player in school history to lead the team in tackles three years in a row.

    He signed a contract with the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League in 1986.

Tony Truelove (Class of 1985)

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    Tony Truelove, a native of Florence, Alabama, was expected to stay home and sign with the University of North Alabama, which was located just 30 minutes from his house.

    However, he shocked many by signing with rival West Alabama instead. A close friend of Truelove's attended UWA and convinced him to sign there.

    Truelove rushed for 1,703 yards in his career (fourth all-time in school history) and 20 touchdowns. He also caught 46 passes (eighth all-time in school history career receiving) and four touchdowns. His 24 career touchdowns currently rank fourth in school history.

    His numbers were impressive for a running back who spent most of his collegiate career as a backup.Truelove was named the starter during his sophomore season, but lost the job to Doug Kellom.

    Truelove was signed by the Birmingham Stallions in 1986, but the United States Football League folded before the season started.

    Truelove signed with the Minnesota Vikings during the summer of 1987 and made the team. However, he was placed on injured reserve shortly after the preseason. The Vikings brought him back for the 1988 season, but he was eventually cut.

    A few months later Truelove tried out and made the Hamilton Tiger-Cats (CFL) roster.

Doug Kellom (Class of 1983)

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    Doug Kellom began the 1980 season as the freshman starting tailback for a Florida Gators team coached by Charley Pell.

    He eventually lost the starting job to James Jones and also had to split carries with Johnell Brown and Calvin Davis. Kellom concluded the season with 339 yards and one touchdown, as well as five catches for 41 yards.

    Kellom founded himself off the team a year later due to academic trouble, and transferred to UWA where he had to sit out a year. As a member of the UWA football team, he was a part of a crowded backfield similar to what he had just left at Florida.

    Johnny Shepherd, Tony Truelove and Willie Williams were the star running backs for the Tigers. Therefore, playing time for Kellom was initially hard to come by. He did, however, manage 250 rushing yards during the 1982 season.

    When his roommate, Shepherd, graduated following the season, Kellom took over the role as primary backup to Tony Truelove. He responded by rushing for 596 yards, catching 18 passes and averaging 26.1 yards on kickoff returns. He was also an All-Gulf South Conference selection.

    The Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the Canadian Football League signed Kellom upon graduation. It is interesting to think where his career could’ve gone had he stayed at Florida.

Joe Hollis (Class of 1982)

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    Gladdie Joe Hollis or Joe Hollis (as he preferred to be called) was a four-year letterman and a three-year starter for the Tigers at wide receiver.

    Before other receivers came along and wiped him out of the UWA record books, Hollis was seventh in career pass receiving with 39 catches for 633 yards and five touchdowns.

    He was signed by the Buffalo Bills after his collegiate career concluded.

Hubert Hurst (Class of 1983) and Chucky Curry (Class of 2011)

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    Guys like Teddy Saenz, Ronnie Ashley, Butch Caldwell, Rusty Fender, Deron Huerkamp, Austin Cichon, Jonathan Weinrich, Jared Porter, Justin Moore, Sam Mosley and several others all deserve recognition as standout offensive linemen who played for UWA.

    When Hubert Hurst was signed by the Los Angeles Raiders, he became the first offensive lineman in school history to make the professional ranks. Hurst represented the hard work of all the guys who played on the Tiger offensive line and felt they too deserved an opportunity.

    NFL scouts seem to like what Chucky Curry has to offer. Thus later this year, Curry may have the opportunity to join Hurst.

    At 6'4", 290 pounds, Curry was a two-year starter at left tackle for the Tigers. It is still confusing as to how Curry ended up at UWA. The Newton, Miss native seemed to be a solid University of Tennessee commit after spending time at East Central Community College.

    At both East Central CC and UWA, Curry help anchored offensive lines that allowed his teams to have top-ranked offenses. East Central CC had the third-ranked offensive attack in the Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges in 2009.

    During the 2010 season, UWA amassed 4,941 yards of total offense and scored 327 points.

Leonard Jackson (Class of 1983)

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    Leonard “Stone Wall” Jackson is known to college football fans as one of the three University of Tennessee students caught up in the 1981 ticket scalping scandal. He was set to replace Jimmy Noonan as the Volunteers starting defensive tackle during the 1981 season, but the scandal led to Jackson transferring to UWA.

    Upon joining the UWA football team, he was placed at linebacker and led the team in tackles with 90 during the 1982 season. Most expected Jackson to exceed those numbers in 1983 and join the ranks of the greatest linebackers to play at UWA.

    Head coach Frank North, meanwhile, had other plans. Junior college transfer Elja Norris impressed North during spring training. North wanted to make Norris an immediate starter at linebacker. However, all the spots were filled.

    North also needed a replacement for star nose guard Mitchell Price. With Jackson’s size and experience at the position, it was a perfect fit. Jackson’s numbers declined with the move. Nevertheless, he earned a contract with the Calgary Stampeders in 1985.

Anthony Riggins (Class of 1995)

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    Anthony Riggins started all 11 games at defensive end for West Alabama during the 1995 season. He finished with 80 tackles (eight for losses), two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, a sack and an interception.

    Despite those monster numbers, most will remember Riggins for the 1994 New Year’s Eve brawl with Florida Gators teammate Darren Hambrick during a team dinner. The incident occurred prior to the team playing in the Sugar Bowl.

    Riggins underwent reconstructive surgery and needed 40 stitches to close a cut caused by Hambrick slamming a glass into the right side of Riggins’ face. It would leave a permanent five-inch scar.

    It was the second and most costly fight between the two that season as both were kicked off the team.

    With 59 tackles and two interceptions, Hambrick was a key player on the Gators defense. Riggins, on the other hand, was seen as a trouble maker and seldom played. In three seasons at Florida, Riggins tallied 17 tackles and 2.5 sacks. He had also been suspended for skipping class.

    When the ’95 season ended, Riggins gained little to no interest from NFL teams, so he signed with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the Canadian Football League.

    Riggins received playing time in each of the Bombers’ 1996 exhibition games and made a strong enough impression to gain a roster spot.

    However, a team spokesman stated Riggins opted to return back home to Fort Pierce, Florida due to homesickness.

Honorable Mentions

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    Larry Stephenson (Quarterback, Class of 1984)

    Larry Lightfoot (Running back, Class of 1971)

    Jerin Wright (Running back, Class of 2006)

    Shay Oliver (Running back, Class of 1990)

    Lorenzo Graham (Running back, Class of 1987)

    Alfred Banks (Running back, Class of 1990)

    John Sedely (Kicker, Class of 1997)

    Willie Cameron (Nose guard, Class of 1980)

    Curtis Coleman (Linebacker, Class of 1980)

    Tariq Ali (Linebacker, Class of 2009)

    DeAntuan Matthews (Linebacker, Class of 2009)

    Fred Stickney (Cornerback, Class of 1983)

    George Bates (Cornerback, Class of 2000)

    Marshon Harper (Free safety, Class of 1993)

    Richard Groover (Free safety, Class of 1985)

Greats on the Rise

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    West Alabama's Deon Lacey and Matt WIllis added a pair of postseason accolades as the duo was named to the Don Hansen NCAA Division II All-America Team.

    Lacey, a linebacker from Brighton, Ala., was named to the second-team defense. Lacey led the UWA defensive unit in tackles (97), tackles for loss (9.0) and sacks (4.0), and was also second with a pair of interceptions.  The junior tallied double-digit tackles in five games this season and was a two-time GSC Defensive Player of the Week.

    The junior was a unanimous selection for GSC Defensive Player of the Year and was the first UWA defensive honoree since 1983. Lacey has garnered All-American honors from the AP Little All-American, AFCA All-American and D2Football.Com team, along with being named to the Don Hansen All-Super Region Two team.

    Matt Willis, the conference's leading rusher this season, was named to the second-team offense. The Collins, Miss., native finished the season with the single-season record for rushing yards with 1,606 and touchdowns with 19. Willis was named to the D2Football.Com All-America team along with the Don Hansen All-Super Region Two team.