I know, growing up, coaches were a great influence, especially in junior high. People like my coaches - Coach Coleman and Coach Armstrong, to name a couple - are special people who taught us so many lessons.
Many Tylerites lost such a person when Gerald “Jerry” McMullen passed away Friday. He was 87.
Coach McMullen, who was an SFA quarterback before becoming a coach and educator, was at Hogg Junior High from 1958 to 1967. He had some great Razorback football teams, especially in his first six seasons - three unbeaten squads and three teams that finished runner-up in the Tyler ISD junior high league.
He built Hogg into a perennial contender. The junior highs then included grades 7, 8 and 9.
When interviewing coach McMullen about a decade ago as Hogg celebrated its 75th anniversary, he sat down and listed some of his outstanding players over the years.
Those players meant a lot to coach McMullen and he meant the world to them. His influence was so great on his students and players.
Some of the players by position were:
Linemen - Randy Clark, Bill Clark, Ronnie Cook, Sammy Trant, Larry Hickey, Eric Wilcox (played at Georgia Tech), Jay Morrison, Leroy Baugher (left Tyler after junior high and attended the University of Georgia), Mike Breedlove, Stanley Smith, Jack Isom, Chris Leavitt, Brian Ballard and Jimmy Harris.
Centers - Nelson Clyde III, Bill Isom and Ben Hackett.
Ends - Billy Marsh, Neal Adams, Layton Bailey and Larry Hollingsworth.
Quarterbacks - Leland Swinney, Dean Bailey (McMullen called him “Little Roger Staubach”), Caldwell Hagan, Gary Bruner, John Hacker and Dickie Arnold.
Fullbacks - David Exum, Bobby “Hindu” Henderson, Charles Buck, Don Cormier, Mike Wheeler and Sam Wolf.
Running Backs - Thomas Clyde, Joe Burden, Charles “Ollie” Allbright, John Ripley, Bill Tomlinson, Algia Allen, Bob Orr, Lee Burch (QB, WR, FB “all-purpose”), Jack Grainger, Tommy Sullivan and Chris Woldert.
Coaches - Don Dillard, C.C. Baker Jr., Bob Hoffman, Jimmy Hayes and Norman Gilchrist.
“There’s not enough room to list all the fine, tough, hard-hitting and great young men,” McMullen noted at the time. “The players were on some terrific teams. I was their biggest fan.”
Coach McMullen was a big fan of the Cowboys, Mavericks and Lumberjacks, but those Hogg teams were never far from his thoughts.
A memorial will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at Calvary Baptist Church, 4715 Tenneryville Road in Longview, where coach McMullen has been a longtime member.
If desired, memorials may be made to Calvary Baptist Church, the Muscular Dystrophy Association or a charity of your choice.
Coach McMullen will be greatly missed.