ALL-TIME W&M FOOTBALL TEAM: OFFENSIVE LINE

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Today, we continue compiling our list of the greatest W&M football players of all time.

Last week, we released our list of W&M’s greatest wide receivers; this week, we turn our attention to the the big hogs up front — W&M’s offensive linemen.

Check it out, and let us know who we missed in the comments! Roll Tribe Roll.

Offensive Tackles

Lou Creekmur (’50)

via tribeathletics.com (link):

Creekmur is the only Tribe football player currently in the NFL Hall of Fame.

“Lou was unquestionably one of the finest players William and Mary has produced in its long football history,” reflected William and Mary Head Coach Jimmye Laycock. “As one of the best players during one of the program’s greatest eras, his legacy is assured to remain a strong one.”

Creekmur, who graduated from the College in 1950, was a valuable piece to some of the most successful teams in Tribe history. He started his collegiate career in 1944, before it was interrupted for two years of military service.

Creekmur returned to campus for the 1947 season and completed his eligibility in the 1949 season, while going to grad school.

The combined record for the team during Creekmur’s time on campus was a glittering 27-10-3, and he was a member of the school’s first two New Year’s Day Bowl teams (1948 and 1949).

Creekmur, a native of Hopelawn, N.J, earned All-Southern Conference honors after the 1948 season and was one of three Tribe players to participate in the Blue-Grey Classic after the 1949 season.

He also participated in the Senior Bowl that same year, as well as the NFL-College All-Star Game, which pitted the top collegiate players against the reigning NFL Champion (which for that season was the Philadelphia Eagles).

After graduating from the College, Creekmur went on to become a 2nd round draft pick of the Detroit Lions in 1950 and remained a fixture on the team’s offensive line for the next 10 seasons (1950 through 1959).

He was a part of three NFL Championship squads with the Lions (1952, 1953 and 1957) and was selected to eight Pro-Bowls and four All-NFL teams (1953, 1954, 1956 and 1957).

His professional career saw him play both offensive guard and tackle and the occasional defensive tackle role in short-yardage situations.

In addition to being versatile, he was also extremely durable, as he saw action in 165 straight contests.

Creekmur’s career earned him the National Football League’s highest honor, as he was elected into the NFL Hall of Fame in 1996.

He is also a member of the William and Mary Athletics Hall of Fame and the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame.

Archie Harris (’87)

Peter Kalison (’57):

The standard for winning under Jimmye Laycock really arrived during the four-year group of teams, between the 1983-86 seasons; these squads strung together a winning record of 28-17, the first winning stretch of this kind since the great W&M teams of the 1940s. 

This cohort featured W&M Athletics Hall of Fame standouts like OT Archie Harris (pictured #72 above), WR Kurt Wrigley, DB Mark Kelso, RB Michael “Pinball” Clemons, LB Dave Pocta and QB Stan Yagielllo.  

Clemons, just 5’5″ and perhaps 165 pounds had a sensational year in 1985, earning a first-team All-America with 714 yards rushing, 12 TDs and 70 pass receptions [running and catching behind an O-Line led by Archie Harris]. 

Archie Harris made every All-America team for two of those years; at 6’6″, 270 pounds he absolutely dominated defensive opponents.

Marvin Bass (’43)

Peter Kalison (’57):

Marvin “Big Moose” Bass, captain of the great 1942 W&M team, was one of the great players of his era. Big for his time at 6-2, 230, Bass played both ways, combining his size and strength with speed and quickness.

He led W&M teams to two top-20 rankings and a Southern Conference Championship in 1942 (nine wins, one tie and a loss to a military all-star team).

During three years in which he never missed a game, W&M also defeated Navy, Oklahoma, Virginia and Virginia Tech.

W&M won 17 games and lost none against state teams during his time.

He was a Helms All-American, three-time All-Southern Conference and capped his academic days at W&M by being named to Phi Beta Kappa.

A ferocious blocker on offense, on defense his quickness and unusual strength saw him bust up opposing plays before they could get started.

In one memorable upset, Bass led his team over highly favored UVA, constantly stopping Virginia’s All-American back, Bill Dudley.

It was a game his teammate, the late Jackie Freeman, once told me, “You had to see to believe. He had at least 10 tackles of Dudley in their backfield and caused the fumble that led to our winning points.”

Bass went on to a memorable coaching career that spanned 60 years, including one year as W&M head coach in 1951.

He is in the W&M Athletic Hall of Fame and a member of the Tribe All-Century team that was selected in 2000.

Offensive Guards

Buster Ramsey

Buster Ramsey (’43)

Peter Kalison (’57):

Recruited by coach Carl Voyles, Gerrard “Buster” Ramsey is one of the greatest college guards ever.

He was a standout offensively and defensively, utilizing remarkable speed and agility to run down opposition runners on defense and drive opposing linemen far down field on offense.

Ramsey played on teams that won a Southern Conference Championship in 1942 (going 9-1-1, losing only to an all-star service team composed of pro stars) and that beat Navy, Dartmouth, Virginia Tech and Oklahoma, among others.

His teams enjoyed a record of 25-4-2. He was an Associated Press first-team All-American in ‘42 and made three first-team All-Southern and All-State teams.

He is one of only three players ever selected to play in two College All-Star-NFL game at Soldier Field in Chicago.

His teammate, the late Jackie Freeman, once said,

“Buster had incredible determination; he was all over the field, played every play and, for one example, must have had twenty tackles in our win at Oklahoma … his quickness and pure speed was something to see. Our fullback, Harvey Johnson, would just run through holes Buster would open and then find him still blocking 10 yards downfield.”

Ramsey was the first W&M player inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. He was the first lineman picked on the Virginia All-20th Century Team.

Ramsey wore No. 20 for the university.

While W&M does not retire football numbers, it is also a fact that no player here has ever been issued No. 20 since Ramsey last wore it in 1942.

Reggie White

Reggie White (’91)

Peter Kalison (’57):

Reggie White was a fearsome blocker who was a dominant force on the Tribe’s front five.

At 6-5, 300 pounds, Reggie had the size and strength to complement tremendous agility.

A two-time All-American, unanimous in 1990, he also was named first-team All-ECAC three times.

His teams went 29-16-2 for his four years (24-10-2 the last three seasons), and he was a key cog in helping power some of the most prolific offenses in the Jimmye Laycock era, featuring dynamic players such as running backs Robert Green and Tyrone Shelton and quarterbacks Chris Hakel and Craig Argo.

Flat Hat articles point to his blocking in key wins over James Madison University, Delaware, University of Massachusetts (in an NCAA playoff) and Villanova, for teams that racked up record points for W&M.

Running back Robert Green noted that “White just destroyed opponents and whenever the team needed critical first downs they always went over Reggie.”

White might have played in the NFL, but opted to go directly into law school after being awarded a prestigious postgraduate scholarship by the National Football Foundation given to outstanding players who also achieved academic success.

Center

Tex Warrington (’44*)

W&M football changed forever with the arrival of head coach Carl Voyles in 1939; Voyles recruited some of the greatest players and produced some of W&M’s greatest teams during his time with the Tribe.

Voyles’ recruits included all-time Tribe greats such as the aforementioned guard Gerrard “Buster” Ramsey, tackle Marvin Bass, and fullback/placekicker Harvey ‘Stud’ Johnson — in addition to many others.

Caleb ‘Tex’ Warrington starred at center when W&M football was at its absolute peak, as he earned both All-Virginia and All-Southern Conference honors while in Williamsburg.

A true athlete — Tex played two-ways, as many players did at the time, also checking in at linebacker for the Tribe.

In the middle of his collegiate playing career, he interrupted his education to enlist in the Marine Corps during World War II. *After his military discharge, he chose to enroll at Auburn University, where he would go on to become an All-American in the vaunted SEC conference.

Before his passing in 1993, Tex was inducted into both the William & Mary and Auburn Sports Hall of Fame for his athletic achievements — in our eyes, cementing himself as the best William & Mary Center of all time.

7 thoughts on “ALL-TIME W&M FOOTBALL TEAM: OFFENSIVE LINE

  1. The foundation of all great offensive teams start with the O-line. The teams in the mid-80’s still feature W&M record book holders in Stan Yagiello, Michael Clemons, and Glenn Bodnar. As such, would have liked to have seen our great friend Bob Solderitch included at Center. Tougher than a pine knot (as then OL Coach Bill Stewart used to say)…Soldy was a warrior. Mario Shaffer and Scott Perkins are other All-American notables from that period.

    GO TRIBE!

  2. I agree with Bull Miller – having played with Soldy, Shaffer, and Harris – 1980-1984 – as a backup to Mario Shaffer in 1983 – I witnessed textbook blocking techniques and highlight reel “pancake” blocks most linemen dream of and Mario – did it on a regular basis.

  3. Players from the 40’s and 50’s could not compete wth the awesome power and size of athletes in the 80’s. Having observed some of the 80’s linemen working out in the gym, lifting massive weights, and weighing solid 260 to 280 pounds , there is no way those smaller atletes of yesteryear could compete. This is not meant to demean their performances, as they stood out during their eras, against similar opponents.
    All time recognition for particular eras would be more equitable.

  4. I’d love to see Greg Kalinyak (1991) on the all time centers list. Yak had a mean streak tempered with great intelligence,
    technique, and was just very productive in a non-flashy sense. He’s the player about whom you rarely hear about, but boy was he productive in a quiet sense!

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