‘We'll give blood to sign Stanback'
Tennessee's T Club newsletter for April, mailed to former athletes in all sports and a few of us honorary lettermen (this is a really big deal), didn't get to our house until middle-late May.It was worth the wait.
Page 1 is Haskel Stanback
, marvelous memories, two photos, then and now, a Volunteer running back from the early 1970s and a distinguished, graying executive in his
22nd year with Norfolk Southern Railroad
remains forever orange.He
and Doris live in Roanoke.Both daughters are UT grads. As I remember, Haskel Stanback
was a winner in '72.He
could bang it off tackle, go wide with a pitchout or catch a swing pass.
The Commodores couldn't hem up Haskel
and when they did, they couldn't get him down.He
hit 'em hard where it hurt, 172 yards in downtown Nashville.
also ran tough against the Tide and burned his
number on Penn State's Nittany Lions.He
was a man on the move.
For a few minutes the following summer, Stanback
was a Playboy magazine
all-American, fine food, Chicago scenic tour, bunny style show, the whole nine yards.Alas, that fall fell below expectations.The Vols lost four.The classy running back didn't even make all-conference.
You may have forgotten that Stanback
took a Kansas helmet to the ribs and found it difficult to breathe.Perhaps you remember that the Crimson Tide won for the third consecutive year and doubled the score in the fourth quarter.Maybe you recall Tennessee's ill-fated fake punt against Georgia.That may have been the turning point of the Bill Battle era.Stanback survived, played six years for the Atlanta Falcons, married well and got on with real life.
My best Haskel Stanback story goes back before all that, to his
growing-up days in Kannapolis, N.C., to recruiting experiences worthy of a high school superstar.Georgia Tech
really wanted him but the Yellow Jackets were hurt by waiting too late to go co-educational.Haskel
remembers it well.
"I was talking with Bobby Dodd, then athletic director at Tech, and I said I had hoped to meet some attractive girls in college but noticed there weren't many on campus.He
told me to go around Atlanta and find some and he'd recruit them, too."
Woody Hayes almost talked Stanback
into signing with the Ohio State Buckeyes.The coach won a commitment that was weathered out.
"I said I'd come, without ever seeing the place," said Stanback
, "but coach Hayes insisted that I make an official visit.
..."Coach Dickey and I didn't hit it off real well," said Stanback.
...Stanback found it easier to talk with Battle and backfield coach Jim Wright.
Even now, when Stanback
tells this story, he
has to stop to laugh.