Former University of Texas and current NFL quarterback Colt McCoy, one of the most decorated athletes to ever come out of the Big Country, headlines the Class of 2015 in the Big Country Athletic Hall of Fame.
The annual Hall of Fame banquet is set for Monday, May 4 at the Abilene Civic Center. Tickets for the banquet will go on sale in February. For more information, call (325) 668-3685. Twelve $750 college scholarships will also be awarded at the banquet to graduating student-athletes from the 19 counties in the Big Country.
Joining McCoy as the newest Hall of Fame inductees are Abilene High graduate and long-time high school and college track coach James Blackwood; former Abilene Cooper tennis coach Leanne Scott, who guided the Cougars to three consecutive state team tennis championships; former Cooper basketball standout Tom Stanton, who later played basketball at Baylor and served as athletic director at Baylor; and Phil Swenson, a Lueders native who won two state track championships and 447 basketball games in 36 years as a high school girls basketball and track coach. Inducted posthumously will be former Baylor and NFL football player Jim Taylor from Clyde.
The Legacy Award recipient will be the Dr. Frank Payne family from Breckenridge. The late Dr. Payne Sr., played football at SMU and served as the Breckenridge Buckaroos team doctor for more than 30 years. All four sons – Frank Jr., Larry, Ronny and Jimmy – played on the great Breckenridge teams of the 1940s and 1950s. Frank Jr. played football at SMU and Larry and Ronny played football at the University of Oklahoma.
For the second year, the Big Country Hall of Fame will also recognize two Legend Award recipients, honoring those who competed before 1950. The late Lew Jenkins grew up in Sweetwater and won the world lightweight boxing championship in 1940. The other Legend Award winner, the late Faye Langford, had a varied career, including competing in the javelin in the AAU national championships, playing baseball in 1942 for the Rockford Peaches that was chronicled in the movie “A League of Their Own” and coaching a high school girls basketball team to a state championship in Borger.
Here is a brief look at the careers of this year’s Big Country Athletic Hall of Fame Class of 2015:
In high school, Colt McCoy led Jim Ned to the Class 2A state championship in football and the state tournament in basketball. He threw for 9,344 yards and 116 touchdowns at Jim Ned and is the all-time leading passer in Texas Class 2A history. He concluded his career at the fourth leading passer in Texas high school history. He then went to the University of Texas, where he was a four-year starter from 2006 to 2009, winning the 2008 Walter Camp Award. He was the 2008 Heisman Trophy runner-up and a 2009 Heisman finalist. He is second all-time in games won by a NCAA Division I quarterback. In his senior year at UT, he won 13 of the top 15 major college awards, including quarterback of the year, offensive player of the year and outstanding football player. He led the Longhorns to the BCS national championship game as a senior. McCoy was drafted in the third round by the Cleveland Browns in the 2010 NFL Draft. He has spent the last five seasons in the NFL with the Browns, San Francisco 49ers and Washington Redskins.
James Blackwood was a member of Abilene High’s 1959 state championship track team. He won the district and regional championships in the 880 and placed second in the state meet and ran on the mile relay. He received a track scholarship from Abilene Christian and ran on the Wildcats’ distance medley relay team that was ranked second in the world in 1961. He began a 44-year coaching career in 1964 at Mann Junior High in Abilene in 1964. He coached in high school at Corpus Christi Ray, Corpus Christi King and Richardson, winning a state cross country championship once, twice placing second and once third at the state meet. In 1972, Blackwood was hired as the assistant track coach and head cross country coach at the University of Texas. He was also associate director of the Texas Relays. In 1985, he became the recruiting coordinator for the Texas Longhorns football team. He later worked for the Houston Astros in their front office and served as head cross country coach at Southern Mississippi before returning to Texas as the head cross country coach and women’s track coach at the University of Texas at San Antonio. He remained there until his retirement. He helped the Longhorns win 13 Southwest Conference titles and 10 top-10 finishes at the NCAA meet. At UTSA, he produced 30 Southland Conference winners and 70 all-conference selections. In all, he coached 17 Olympians.
Leanne Scott coached tennis for 20 years at Cooper. She led the Cougars to three straight Class 5A state team tennis titles. During her career at Cooper, her teams were ranked No. 1 in the state three years in a row, No. 2 in the state three other years and always ranked in the top five in the state. Her Cooper teams won the district title 17 of her 20 years as head coach.
Tom Stanton is a member of the Hall of Honor at Cooper High School where he played basketball and baseball and set the school record with 50 points in a game. He earned five varsity letters at Baylor, three in basketball and two in baseball. After a 23-year executive management career, Stanton became the first Baylor letterman to serve as athletic director at his alma mater. During his eight years as the Baylor athletic director, he hired coaches that won four national championships and 53 Big 12 titles in seven different sports. He also began the facilities renovation and fundraising strategy for Baylor as it entered the Big 12 Conference. He is a member of the Baylor Hall of Fame and is currently president and CEO of the Texas Sports Hall of Fame Foundation, where he was responsible for the fundraising effort to build the Southwest Conference wing of the Texas Sports Hall of Fame museum in Waco.
Phil Swenson is a graduate of Lueders and McMurry University. He spent 36 years coaching girls basketball and track at Iraan, Wink, Garden City, Hamlin, Winters and Roscoe. He is a member of the Texas Girls Coaches Association Hall of Fame. As a track coach, his teams won two state championships and numerous district and regional titles. He won 447 basketball games and guided his teams to numerous district championships and several regional tournament appearances.
Jim Taylor, a three-sport star in high school at Clyde where he graduated in 1952, will be inducted posthumously. He was a three-starter at center and linebacker at Baylor. The Pittsburgh Steelers selected him in the third round of the 1956 NFL draft. He played one year for the Steelers, two seasons for the Chicago Cardinals and two years for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the Canadian Football League before an injury ended his career. He played in the Grey Cup, the CFL’s version of the Super Bowl. He then coached high school football in Littlefield, Rio Hondo, San Benito and Woodson.
The Legacy Award winner is the Dr. Frank Payne family of Breckenridge. The late Dr. Payne was a three-year letterman in football at SMU, winning a Southwest Conference championship in 1923. He then spent more than 30 years as the team doctor for the Breckenridge Buckaroos. His four sons were all three-year lettermen at Breckenridge. Each won district championships every year and played in state championship games. All four played college football, too. Dr. Frank Payne Jr. of Dallas played at SMU from 1946 through 1949, helping the Mustangs win two SWC championships. He played in the 1948 and 1949 Cotton Bowl games. The late Jimmy Payne played junior college football at Tarleton State and Cisco Junior College and spent 20 years as a high school football coach in Odessa and Corsicana. He retired as superintendent at Ozona. Jerry Payne of Hereford and Ronny Payne of Breckenridge both played football at Oklahoma University. Jerry was a three-year letterman, winning three Big Eight Conference titles and playing in two Orange Bowl games. Ronny was a three-year starter at OU and was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in 1962. He played and coached for the Calgary Stampeders in the Canadian Football League for nine years.
Legend honoree Lew Jenkins was born near Brownwood and grew up in Sweetwater. He captured the world lightweight boxing championship in 1940. He won 74 bouts, 52 by knockouts and was named by Ring magazine as one of the top 100 punchers of all time. He was involved in the D-Day invasion in World War II and received the Silver Star.
Faye Langford of Breckenridge, the other Legend Award winner, was an AAU national champion in the javelin. She not only played baseball with the Rockford Peaches in the All-American Women’s Professional Baseball League but she also toured California with her good friend Babe Didrikson Zaharias, playing for a Class D men’s baseball team. She coached the Borger High School girls basketball team to a 96-23 record from 1938 to 1942, and won a High School Girls Basketball League of Texas state championship in 1942, leading Borger to a 32-1 record.
For more information, contact Al Pickett at (325) 691-5474.