By Charlie Norris
Contrary to an age old sports myth, you don’t have to be a dumb jock to be a football star in college. Many professionals today were outstanding football players in the past. UGA football players are certainly no exception; in fact, no Southern school has produced more National Football Foundation Post-Graduate Scholars than UGA; no Southern School has produced more NCAA Post-Graduate Scholars in football than UGA; no Southern school has produced more NCAA Post-Graduate Scholars in all sports than UGA (and this one isn’t even close). The truth is UGA has a proud tradition of graduating some of today’s finest professionals. Not enough Dawg fans remember that UGA football players set a record of six consecutive coveted National Football Foundation and Hall of Fame Scholar-Athlete recipient awards (also known as the Earl Blaik Fellowship). That record is probably safe forevermore, as it’s unlikely to ever be broken. Today, we’ll remember the academic and athletic accomplishments of those six scholar-athletes and maybe squeeze in a few other names of UGA notable scholar athletes. The “six in a row” Hall of Fame Scholar-Athlete winners from UGA were:
(1) 1966: Bobby Etter, placekicker: played high school football for his legendary dad (Red Etter) in Chattanooga, Tennessee…was an All-State basketball player and an All-City baseball player…set the City record for most PATs in a year (34 in 1962)…was a shortstop on UGA’s baseball team…led the UGA football team in scoring in 1965 and again in 1966…in 1965, he also led the SEC in scoring…set a UGA school record in PATs percentage in 1964, not missing a one…his most memorable play came in 1964 when he picked up a botched snap on a FG attempt and ran it in for a TD leading the Dawgs to a 14-7 victory over Florida…he set a UGA record in 1965 with most FGs in a season…also in 1965, he tied the SEC record of most FGs kicked in a game as the Dawgs upset defending National Champion Michigan in the Big House…three times he earned Academic All-SEC honors and twice earned Academic All-America honors…he was inducted into the Florida-Georgia Hall of Fame…he played 4 seasons of Pro football…he has won two national bridge championships and is an American Contract Bridge Grand Life Master…Dr. Robert Etter is a retired professor from California State University Sacramento where he taught mathematics…Dr. Robert Etter, a DGD!!!!
(2) 1967: Tommy Lawhorne, linebacker: played high school football in Worth County, Sylvester, Georgia where he was an All-State Honorable Mention QB…he also played basketball, baseball, and track…he started his UGA football career as an end, then switched to another position, and finally settled in as a linebacker…was an All-SEC LBer as a sophomore as well as a two time Academic All-SEC LBer…majored in chemistry…graduated number one in the UGA Class of 1968 earning the honor of Class Valedictorian…he received an NCAA Post-Graduate Scholarship and attended John Hopkins University School of Medicine where he graduated in 1972…he is highly and widely respected specializing in vascular surgery in Columbus, Georgia…the academic side of Dr. Thomas Lawhorne always came easier than his athletic side, but he was a competitor in both, and excelled both in the classroom and on the football field…Dr. Thomas Lawhorne, a DGD!!!!
(3) 1968: Billy Payne, defensive end: from Dykes high school in Atlanta, Georgia where he earned All-State first team honors as a T-QB on offense and LBer on defense…was an All-City catcher in baseball and also played basketball…his dad (Porter Payne) was the team captain and an All-SEC player at UGA in 1949…Billy set a UGA pass receiving record on the Freshman team in 1965 and was the varsity’s leading receiver in 1966…he earned All-SEC honors in 1965, 1966, and 1968…he earned All-American honors in 1968…he earned Academic All-SEC honors in 1967 and 1968…he was the President of UGA’s Class of 1968..he was presented the UGA Outstanding Athlete Award in 1969…he received his undergraduate pre-law degree from UGA, then was awarded an NCAA Post-Graduate Scholarship and secured his post graduate juris doctor degree from UGA’s Joseph Henry Lumpkin School of Law…he holds honorary doctorates from UGA, Emory, South Carolina, Mercer, Oglethorpe, and Presbyterian…he has held or currently holds dozens of positions including Officer, Director, Chairmanship, and/or Board Member to numerous Corporations, Companies, Committees, etc (far too many to list here)…he was inducted into the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame…he is a member of UGA’s prestigious Circle of Honor…he is a recipient of the Theodore Roosevelt Award, the highest honor bestowed by the NCAA (and the only former football player from the South to receive this award)…he was the President and CEO of the Atlanta Olympic Committee from 1991 to 1997, and received the Olympic Order of Gold Award for his service…he currently serves as Chairman of the Augusta National, host of the largest sports event annually in Georgia–the Masters Golf Tournament…William Porter “Billy” Payne, a DGD!!!!
(4) 1969: Tim Callaway, defensive guard: from Thomasville, Georgia…Coach and Athlete Prep All-American honors out of high school…earned first Team All-State honors and was the Class AA Lineman of the Year…earned UGA varsity letters in 1967, 1968, and 1969…was a starting defensive lineman for UGA in 1969 along side All-American Steve Greer…played on two SEC Championship teams for UGA…earned first team Academic All-SEC honors in 1969…earned his undergraduate degree from UGA in 1970 and his post graduate juris doctor degree from UGA’s Joseph Henry Lumpkin Law School in 1975…served as a 1st Lt. in the US Army from 1970 to 1972…he is currently a practicing partner in the Law Firm of Callaway, Braun, Riddle, and Hughes, PC in Savannah, Georgia specializing in Workmen’s Compensation…Timothy Callaway III, a DGD!!!!
(5) 1970: Tommy Lyons, offensive center: earned Class AAA All-State honors when attending Georgia Military Academy in College Park, Georgia…was also the Georgia State Wrestling Champion in the 180 pound class…was UGA’s number one defensive end in 1966 on the Frosh team…played OG in 1967 and moved to center in 1968 where he earned All-American honors in 1968 and again in 1969…he also earned All-SEC and Academic All-SEC honors in those same two years…he was captain of the football team in 1969…he was awarded an NCAA Post-Graduate Scholarship…he received his undergraduate degree from UGA…he received his post graduate degree from the University of Colorado School of Medicine in 1977…he was a six year starter in the NFL for the Denver Broncos…he was inducted into the State of Georgia Sports Hall of Fame…he is an honored member in UGA’s Circle of Honor…in 1996, he was presented the NCAA Silver Anniversary Award…he is a pioneer in the field of minimally invasive surgery and a noted gynecologic surgeon…he has authored multiple publications concerning laparoscopic surgery…he is currently the Director and a practicing physician for the Center for Women’s Care and Reproductive Surgery in Atlanta… Dr. Thomas Lyons, a DGD!!!!
(6) 1971: Tom Nash, offensive tackle: from Washington-Wilkes High School in Washington, Georgia…earned All-State honors two years running, Class B Lineman of the Year, All-Southern honors, and Prep All-American honors in high school…came from great stock as his dad was UGA’s fifth All-American, inductee into the State of Georgia Hall of Fame, and a member of the Green Bay Packers Professional team that won three championships in his playing days…like father, like son as little Tom (all 6′-5″ of him) earned All-SEC honors as an offensive tackle in 1970 and again in 1971…his dad was very smart (a teacher and principal) and so was Little Tom as he earned Academic All-SEC honors in 1970 and 1971 and Academic All-American honors in 1971…he was awarded an NCAA Post-Graduate Scholarship…he received his undergraduate and law degrees, magna cum laude from the University of Georgia and the University of Georgia School of Law…he served as an officer in the US Air Force…he has a long history of being involved in civic matters, including Board Chairmanship of the Savannah Fellowship of Christian Athletes and other Church activities …he is a very respected attorney currently practicing law in Savannah, Georgia…Thomas Nash, Jr., a DGD!!!!
I salute these six UGA scholar-athletes. They have established a record of excellence in the classroom and on the field that, in my opinion, will likely stand forever. Further, these guys have taken that hard-earned scholar-athlete foundation and turned it into six very successful and noteworthy careers. The world needs more “six in a row” men like these DGDs.
Well, it appears I’ve run out of time and space this week. I feel bad about not mentioning three time Academic All-American Terry Hoage, one of my favorite Dawgs ever who now owns and operates a vineyard making the finest of all California wines. Terry was even inducted into the Capital One Academic All-America Hall of Fame, one of just a few players from the South to hold that honor…Neither did I mention Jon Stinchcomb, another three time Academic All-American, nor his brother Matt Stinchcomb, a two time Academic All-American…and I haven’t mentioned Dr. Happy Dicks, nor Dr. Chuck Heard, nor Dr. Mixon Robinson, nor Dr. Brad Register, nor Judge Kent Lawrence, nor Attorney Kirby Moore, nor Attorney Kim Stephens, nor Attorney Jeff Lewis, and the list seems to grow longer and longer the more UGA football scholars I name from the past…and hey, while everyone of those guys were honored academic leaders in the classroom, it is also important to point out every one of them were great football players too…oh well, that’s just another story (or stories) for another day…Go Dawgs!!!!