The family trees of several players starring on the college football bowl scene the past week have a decidedly purple hue, despite the burnt-orange-and-white and red-and-black uniforms seen by their fans on TV.
The University of Texas Longhorns play the University of Alabama Crimson Tide for all the football marbles tonight in the Citi BCS National Championship Game, led on offense by quarterback Colt McCoy and wide receiver Jordan Shipley. The sports world is likely to get another dose this week of the unique relationship between these two record-setting seniors and roommates, whose fathers were football-playing teammates/roommates at ACU.
Brad (’83) and Debra (Woodruff ’83) McCoy are the parents of Colt, who grew up in diminutive (population 714) Tuscola, Texas, just south of Abilene, where Brad was Colt’s high school coach and mentor at Jim Ned HIgh School. Brad, now the head football coach at Graham (Texas) High School, previously coached in Hamlin and San Saba. He is the son of Burl (’54) and Jan (Gibson ’58) McCoy. Burl was a longtime track and field and women’s basketball coach at ACU, and is a member of the ACU Sports Hall of Fame.
Bob (’84) and Sharon (Felts) Shipley are Jordan’s parents. Bob was a football and track and field letterman who later served on ACU football coaching staffs from 1988-92 and 1996-98. He is the athletics director and head football coach at tradition-rich Brownwood (Texas) High School, following coaching and administrative roles in Graham, Temple, Hawley, Burnet, Rotan and Coppell. Sharon’s parents are the late Richard Felts (’53), former ACU football letterman and longtime cafeteria manager, and Addie (Rheiner ’53) Felts, professor emerita of health, physical education and recreation.
Colt’s and Jordan’s fathers were teammates on the 1981 and 1982 Wildcat football teams, a fact most college football fans now know, thanks to background information and stories shared on national telecasts of Longhorn games by ESPN and ABC. The media seemingly can’t talk enough of their families’ long Abilene Christian connection, and the two players and fathers are not shy to speak about their ACU backgrounds. Brad and Bob are two of the most successful head coaches in Texas high school football.
Colt and Jordan were both named first team all-Big 12 Conference, and first team Associated Press all-America for 2009.
Jordan has caught 106 of Colt’s passes in 2009 for 1,363 yards and 11 TDs, and his career stats include 238 receptions for 3,069 yards and 31 TDs. He still holds most major career receiving records for Texas high school athletes, including receptions (252), yards (5,424) and TDs (73) after playing at Rotan and Burnet high schools. Jordan won the Paul Warfield Trophy in 2009 as the nation’s top collegiate wide receiver.
Colt finished third in voting for the Heisman Trophy in 2009, but won just about every other prestigious honor a college quarterback can receive: Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award (to the nation’s top senior college quarterback), Chic Harley Award (college football player of the year by the Touchdown Club of Columbus, Ohio), Davey O’Brien Award (to the best NCAA quarterback), Maxwell Award (from the Maxwell Football Club to the best college football player), and Walter Camp Award (Walter Camp Football Foundation’s American college player of the year). He was also named Sporting News College Athlete of the Year.
Four hundred miles to the northwest, the Texas Tech Red Raiders have a pretty effective pair of offensive performers in juniors Taylor Potts and Lyle Leong Jr., former teammates at Abilene High School. Tech beat Michigan State, 41-31, in the Valero Alamo Bowl on Jan. 2, and quarterback Potts was named the game’s most valuable offensive player after throwing for two touchdowns and an Alamo Bowl-record 372 yards. Leong, a wide receiver, caught three passes for 58 yards and one TD in the game.
Potts started 10 games as the Red Raiders’ quarterback in 2009, throwing for more than 3,400 yards and 22 TDs (the latter places him ninth on Tech’s all-time list of single-season leaders). He made the Academic all-Big 12 Conference team this season while helping Tech rank second in the nation in passing. In the regular season, Leong had 42 catches for 513 yards and eight TDs.
Lyle Sr. (’86) and Kari (Dorsey ’84) Leong are Lyle Jr.’s parents. Kari was the university’s Young Alumnus of the Year for 2000, and Lyle is a former ACU football letterman.
Taylor is the son of Avery (’00) and Cathy (Flatt ’79) Potts, and the grandson of former longtime ACU photographer-editor-writer Clark Potts (’54). Cathy is the guest services coordinator in ACU’s Hunter Welcome Center.