Hello folks! Hope everyone is enjoying the summer which has felt a lot more normal than 2020’s craziness. I thought I would jump in the time machine and put together my first team of Danny Ford era players. I’ll do a Hatfield/West team, then a Bowden team. Obviously the Swinney era marches on so I won’t dive into that in this series. Here are a few rules I placed on myself (and henceforth you as well should you choose to argue for different choices: Players who were juniors or seniors from the previous coach’s regime are not included as their development was largely complete prior to the coach taking over. This means guys like Jerry Butler, Steve Fuller, and Jim Stuckey are not eligible for the All-Ford team in my view. Also, a guy whose career overlapped a coaching change only counts towards his signing coach if he was a major contributor as a freshman and/or sophomore. So this mean Chester McGlockton can count for both Ford and Hatfield/West if I should choose to pick him for both eras. So those are my rules and here we go!
OFFENSE: Ford era means 22 personnel (2 running backs [with a true fullback], 2 WR).
LT: Bruce Bratton 1988-1991 (3 year starter on some of the best statistical offenses of the Ford era into the Hatfield era)
LG: Steve Reese 1982-1985 (3 year starter, All American in 85).
C: Tony Berryhill 1978-1981 (2 year starter, including on the 81 title team).
RG: John Phillips 1984-1987 (3 year starter, 2 time All American).
RT: Jeff Nunamacher 1985-1988 (3 year starter, 2 time All-ACC).
TE: Jim Riggs 1983-1986 (2 year starter, 2 time All-ACC, 4th round NFL selection).
QB: Homer Jordan 1979-1982 (3 year starter, won the Natty!)
TB: Terry Allen 1987-1989 (split starting duty in 87, started until injured in 89, 2 time All-ACC, All Pro NFL 1996).
FB: Tracy Johnson 1985-1988 (2 year starter, 7 year NFL career).
Flanker: Perry Tuttle 1978-1981 (3 year starter, first Tiger on an SI cover!)
WR: Gary Cooper 1986-1989 (best big play WR of the Ford era)
PK: David Treadwell 1985-1987 (All American, super clutch, beat the dawgs twice, ‘nuff said).
Notes: For me, the tailback and fullback spots were toughest as they generally featured the most talent on offense during those days. Lots of studs like Flowers, Mack, Flagler, McFadden, and Driver not listed. Next toughest was Jordan over Rodney Williams at QB.
DEFENSE: Ford era means 3-4 defensive front for me, though it differed somewhat during his time from a bear front to a 4-3 under, but we have to feature LBs with him!
LG(LDE): Jeff Bryant 1978-1981 (All American, 1st Round Draft Pick, National Champ)
NG (MG): William Perry 1981-1984 (3 time All American, 1st Round Draft Pick, The Fridge!)
RG (RDE): Michael Dean Perry 1984-87 (All American, ACC POY, 2nd Round Draft Pick, Multi Pro Bowler).
BANDIT: John Johnson 1987-1990 (All-ACC, 2nd round Draft Pick)
ILB: Jeff Davis 1978-1981 (All American, Ring of Honor, the standard for LB play in Tiger history).
ILB: Ed McDaniel 1988-1991 (All American, started at LB as a freshman for Ford!, Pro Bowl 1998)
OLB: Levon Kirkland 1988-1991 (2X All American, 3 year team captain, 2nd Round Draft Pick, 2X All Pro).
CB: Donnell Woolford 1985-1988 (2X All American, 1st round Draft Pick)
SS: Arlington Nunn 1987-1990 (starter on arguably the best defense in team history, huge hit on Robert Brooks to save a TD in 1990 vs. U of SC).
FS: Terry Kinard 1979-1982 (2X All American, 1st Round Draft Pick, CFB Hall of Fame).
CB: Delton Hall 1983-1986 (All ACC, 2nd Round Draft Pick).
P: Dale Hatcher 1981-1984 (All American, 3rd round Draft Pick (as a punter!), Pro Bowler as a rookie).
Notes: Clearly defense was full of tough decisions as the Ford era oozed with talent on this side of the ball. Big time guys had to be left off. Some of the toughest choices for me were John Johnson over Jesse Hatcher and Andy Headen. Gave Ed McDaniel the nod over the quietly very good Doug Brewster. Strong safety was tough as surprisingly that position lacked star power during the Ford years despite the dominant defenses. Ultimately I couldn’t forget Nunn blowing up Brooks in the endzone in 1990.
Many of you may be too young to really know this era well, but if you do, chime in with your thoughts and such. I’ll be back in a week or two with the Hatfield/West era (combining those two since it was a dark time).