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This day in sports history


The Greenville Standard


Today, I will discuss the position of fullback, and halfbacks from the Wishbone Era (1971-82).

Coach Jimmy Sharpe, who helped Coach Bryant install the Wishbone, said this was very important.

Sharpe said if the fullback averaged four yards or more, the Wishbone would work and it did.

In 1971, fullbacks Ellis Beck and Steve Bisceglia split time and they averaged over 4.5 yards per carry (ypc).

In 1972, Steve Bisceglia averaged over 4.5 ypc. In 1973, Ellis Beck started. The inside game with the fullback opened the outside game.

In 1974, Calvin Culliver started at fullback. He was called the East Brewton Blur having more speed than power.

From 1975-77, the fullback starter was Johnny Davis and he was nicknamed “The Bull.” He had good speed and was a power runner.

From 1978-79, Steve Whitman was the fullback and a power Runner. In the 1979 Iron Bowl, he carried the nose guard for Auburn five yards before going down.

For 1980, Billy Jackson had great balance. For 1981-82, Ken Simon had blazing speed.

Simon and Culliver were close in speed. Davis and Whitman were number one and two at that position.

Starting halfbacks in the Wishbone era were Johnny Musso (1971), Joe LaBue (1971-72), Wilbur  Jackson (1972-73), Billingsley (1973-74), Willie Shelby (1974-75), Mike Stock (1975), Tony Nathan (1976-78), Pete Cavan (1976), Lou Ikner (1977), Major Ogilive (1978-80), Billy Jackson (1979), Jeff Fagan (1980-82), and Joe Carter(1981-82). All were great running backs.

Musso was nicknamed the ‘The Italian Stalion’ and was a consensus All-American, placed fourth for the Heisman Trophy and the SEC MVP in 1971.

LaBue was a great blocker; his highlight play was 52-yard touchdown run vs LSU in 1972.

Jackson converted from split end and had an 80-yard run vs Tennessee in 1973.

Billingsley was also a great blocker. His best game was against Auburn in 1974 where he at 91 yards on 13 carries.

Shelby had 58-yard run for a touchdown against Ole Miss in 1974 while Mike Stock scored the only touchdown in 1975 Sugar Bowl, which was a 13-6 win.

Nathan’s best performance was 130 yards vs Penn State in the 1979 Sugar Bowl. Alabama won 14-7 and the national championship.

Ogilive was MVP of the 1980 Sugar Bowl. He had two touchdowns and 50-yard punt return and helped Alabama win another national championship 24-9.

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