Which Decade Produced the Most W&M Legends?

Back in August, we at the W&M Sports Blog compiled the definitive list of all-time great W&M football players.

Alright, it wasn’t officially “definitive” per say, but it was as close as anyone has ever gone to creating an actual, exhaustive list spanning nearly 100 years of W&M football history.

That got us thinking…if one were to begin aggregating this information…which decade of W&M football actually produced the most W&M Legends?

Well, it’s time to find out. But first, we’ll lay down one important ground rule: if a W&M player played across multiple decades (with decades defined as: 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, and so on), we counted him as having played during the decade of his final two years (the ones in which they typically have the most impact).

If a player played three of his four years in the same decade, we counted him as part of the decade in which he played three; of course, there exists a tiny bit of gray area in this realm for specific players, but we digress.

We begin by breaking down who the W&M Legends are from every decade, beginning with the 1930s; at the end, we’ll huddle back up and rank each decade in order of players produced.

1920’s

  • Art Matsu (QB)
  • Meb Davis (WR)

1930’s

  • Walter Zable (WR)
  • Otis Douglas, Jr. (OL)
  • Clarence Maxey (RB)

1940’s

  • Buster Ramsey (OG/LB)
  • Stud Johnson (FB)
  • Tommy Thompson (C/LB)
  • Jack Bruce (CB)
  • Tex Warrington (C/LB)
  • Lou Creekmur (OL)
  • Jack Cloud (RB)
  • Buddy Lex (QB)
  • Marvin Bass (OL)
  • Vito Ragazzo (WR)

1950’s

  • Ed Weber (FB)
  • Charlie Sumner (S)
  • Jerry Sazio (LB)
  • Walt Brodie (WR)
  • Dave Edmunds (RB)

1960’s

  • Dan Darragh (QB)
  • Bob Soleau (OL)
  • John Sapinsky (OL)
  • Bob Gadkowski (LB)

1970’s

  • David Knight (WR)
  • Joe Montgomery (C)
  • Jim Ryan (LB)
  • Steve Shull (LB)
  • Steve McNamee (S)
  • Phil Mosser (RB)
  • Paul Scolaro (DB)
  • Tom Rozantz (QB)

1980’s

  • John Cannon (DE)
  • Glenn Bodnar (TE)
  • Mark Kelso (S)
  • Stan Yagiello (QB)
  • Bob Solderitch (C)
  • Michael Clemons (RB)
  • Archie Harris (OL)
  • Dave Pocta (LB)
  • Harry Mehre (WR)
  • Steve Christie (K)
  • Reggie White (OL)

1990’s

  • Robert Green (RB)
  • Chris Hakel (QB)
  • Craig Staub (DT)
  • Shawn Knight (QB)
  • Mike Tomlin (WR)
  • Derek Fitzgerald (RB)
  • Troy Keen (RB)
  • Dave Conklin (WR)
  • Luke Cullinane (DE)
  • Ron Harrison (CB)
  • Alvin Porch (RB)
  • Jude Waddy (LB)
  • Mike Cook (QB)
  • Mike Leach (TE/P)
  • Raheem Walker (DT)

2000’s

  • Dwight Beard (OT)
  • David Corley (QB)
  • Rich Musinski (WR)
  • Lang Campbell (QB)
  • Dominique Thompson (WR)
  • Derek Cox (CB)
  • Jake Phillips (QB)
  • Sean Lissemore (DT)
  • Adrian Tracy (DE)
  • David Miller (P)

2010’s

  • Jonathan Grimes (RB)
  • B.W. Webb (CB)
  • Jerome Couplin III (S)
  • Tre McBride (WR)
  • Mike Reilly (DE)
  • DeAndre Houston-Carson (S)
  • Luke Rhodes (LB)
  • Jerry Ugokwe (OL)
  • DeVonte Dedmon (WR)
  • Bill Murray (DT)

Complete Ranking by Decade

  1. 1990s (15 players)
  2. 1980s (11 players)
  3. 1940s (10 players)
  4. 2000s (10 players)
  5. 2010s (10 players)
  6. 1970s (8 players)
  7. 1950s (5 players)
  8. 1960s (4 players)
  9. 1930s (3 players)
  10. 1920s (2 players)

WMSB take: As with any ranking that spans nearly 100 years, there will be some recency bias.

However, if you think about it more deeply, W&M was a national powerhouse in the 1940s (producing multiple College Hall of Famers & never losing to Virginia Tech and other modern day FBS schools), all under William & Mary’s first legendary head coach, Carl Voyles.

The program then experienced a doldrums spanning several decades, as the list indicates, following William & Mary football’s infamous Scandal of 1951.

It really wasn’t until legendary head coach Jimmye Laycock took over nearly three decades later, in 1980, that the tides officially turned.

From there, the rest is history: Laycock would go on to become the most successful coach in William & Mary football history.

Objectively speaking, one could argue that the late 1990s and early 2000s were the peaks of Laycock’s tenure — and the data compiled here would certainly support that case, players-wise at least.

Either way, one thing is for absolute certain: William & Mary football, established in 1893, has produced several dozen, bonafide gridiron legends in its 100+ year history. Here’s to many more!

Discuss this topic with us on social media!

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