First and foremost, thanks for all the votes. This was to be done differently than the previous ones. So here are the teams revealed, starting with the third team and then going to the first team, totally on votes, this was the largest turnout so far. So here we are. Bold means All-American, Italics is First team LSC. All of the All Time Lion First Team members are both.
All-Time Lion Defense Third Team-
DL-Tevin Moore-2010-2013(All Time School Leader in Sacks)
All Time Lion Second Team-Bold Denotes All-American, Italics Denotes First Team LSC
DL-Gene Hodge-1936-1938 (First Ever Defensive Lion All-American)
LB-J.D. Hearn, 2004-2006
All Time Defense-First Team
DL-Harvey Martin-1969-1972. Perhaps the most recognizable name in Lion Football history, Martin is a Texas Football legend. Winning both a National Championship and a Super Bowl, where he was an MVP of Super Bowl XII. He was also voted Lone Star Conference Defensive player of the decade in the 1970’s. He is a man and a player that will be forever etched in Lion football lore. (Fun story): Years ago, I believe a couple of years before Harvey passed, my great aunt had died and my Dad and younger brothers went to DFW Airport to pick up my cousin who was flying in from California to take him to East Texas. They randomly ran into Harvey, who let my brothers wear his Super Bowl ring and was very cordial. I regret that I could not go but if I remember I was either ill or helping with funeral arrangements.)
DL-Dwight White-1967-1970. White was one of the most intimidating and fearful players that ever lined up for the blue and gold. A strong and fearless player, he was part of the Pittsburgh Steelers famed “iron curtain defense.” A first team All-American twice, he also won 4 Super Bowls, was an NFL All-Pro twice, and was elected into the All-Steelers team of the decade in the 1970’s.
DL-Terry Bagsby-1989-1990. A fast and formidable D-Lineman, Bagsby made life an absolute misery on opposing quarterbacks for two years. A first team All-Conference selection, first team All-American in 1990, and Conference Champion, Bagsby was drafted in the 1991 NFL draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He recently passed away but the votes by so many put him here
DL-Ricky Hope-2007-2008. A two time All-American and first team All-LSC pick, Hope was a JUCO transfer that helped make the defenses of the mid to late 2000’s some of the best in the country and the league. A member of the 2007 North Division Co-Champion team, he followed up a strong Junior year with a defining Senior season. In 2008, Hope led the Lions with 19.5 tackles for minus 107 yards to set a new school single-season record. He also had 11 sacks for minus 76 yards to set another school record, recorded seven quarterback hurries and forced six fumbles. For his efforts, he earned All-American honors from the American Football Coaches Association, Associated Press, Daktronics, and Don Hansen’s Football Gazette and first team all-LSC North Division and LSC North Division Defensive Lineman of the Year. He played briefly with the Detroit Lions as he was picked up in free agency after college.
LB-Fred Woods-1992-1993-Woods was a dynamic linebacker who racked up the awards his two years in Commerce. A member of the 1992 Lions, he was named to three All-American teams and was also All-Conference. Described as both quick and aggressive in helping his lineman, he was also the conference’s leading tackler in 1993. Few players have been named consensus All-Americans by multiple sports writers but Woods was. He also led the conference in tackles for loss in 1993.
LB-Danny Mason-2009-2012-Another more recent guy, Mason was a 4-year starter for the Lions. His freshman season, the Lions went 5-5 and won the Lone Star North Division with a 5-0 record. Danny was first team all conference his Junior and Senior seasons and was named 2nd team All-American by Beyond Sports Network. His final stats as a Lion, Mason recorded 280 total tackles including 24.5 tackles for loss during his four-year Lion career. He also had 14 pass breakups and picked off three passes all of which came during the 2011 season. After Mason’s eligibility was over, he stayed in Commerce to help with the transition to the Carthel era, during which time he completed his degree. After spending two seasons in the Arena Leagues, he was signed by the Denver Broncos and is currently with the Chicago Bears. Mason got strong votes across the board from both recent players and older players.
LB-Danny Kirk 1977-1980-Danny Kirk was one of Commerce’s finest players, and finest Men. He was an All-American, top conference performer, conference champion, and national semi-finalist. Described by teammates as a player who was a fundamentally sound player and also an incredible athlete, Kirk was an incremental part of the Lions success in the late 70’s and early 80’s. After leaving Commerce, Kirk was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks in 1981. He later became a pastor in the Fort Worth area where he was loved by all. He was tragically killed by a criminal while he was in his Church doing what God had called him to do. His spot on this list was rightfully earned by what he did on the field and off. I hope that at some point our program is set to honor a man who gave his life for his fellow man. “Greater Love hath no man that will lay his life down for his friends.” RIP Danny, and I am honored to write about you.
DB-Kevin Mathis-1993-1996-Kevin Mathis is very much a recognizable name among local Football fans. He is one the youngest people ever elected to the TAMUC athletic hall of fame. Mathis was a 3 time All-American, 3 Time First Team All Conference Selection, and was an integral part of the 1995 team. His speed made him one of the best cover corners in one on ones and could play zone effectively as well. Mathis was taken in free agency by the Dallas Cowboys, where he took the starting job from Cowboy great Kevin Smith and started opposite side of the great Dieon Sanders. He also played for the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons working in nickel packages and playing a lot of special teams. He retired from the NFL in 2007, and now coaches High School football in Dallas.
DB-Eric Turner-1989-1992-Dangerfield, TX has produced some great Football players, and Turner might be in the conversation to be the best that ever came out. Originally a small player with ridiculous speed and a knack for making life miserable for whomever he went up against, Turner never thought he would play college football until he took the 3 hour drive west to Commerce. He made the team, enrolled, put on 35 pounds of muscle and was a 3 consensus time All-American and led all of Division II in 1990 with 11 interceptions. An NFL scout who watched his 1992 performance against Southern Arkansas wrote, “On a team full of talent, speed, and Football acumen, Turner might be the absolute best Football player on a team loaded with very good Football players.” After his college days were over, he was taken by the Miami Dolphins as a free agent, then he played Arena League Football with the Fort Worth Cavalry and the Barcelona Dragons of NFL Europe. Turner currently coaches Football in the DFW area.
DB-Autry Beamon-1971-1974-Autry Beamon was one of those guys that had athleticism to play defense anywhere really. Moving from Corner to Safety and back and forth, Beamon had a knack for the big play and the big hit. A member and starter of the National Title Squad in 1972, he was both a two time All-Conference and All-American Selection. After graduating early, he was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings in the 1975 NFL draft, where he was a member of the Super Bowl Champion Vikings and also played with the Seahawks. He is now a successful businessman and was conferred an honorary doctorate by the University in the Fall of 2012.
DB-Curtis Buckley-1991-1992.-Curtis Buckley hit people. He loved to hit, not just tackle people, but hit to hurt them. Eddie Vowell had once said what he loved about Buckley was that “he hits to hurt you and he loves to punish people.” Buckley was a two time First team all LSC pick and two time All-American and was a member of two of the best Lion teams ever. He only played in Commerce for two years, but his impact was immediate and big. I remember the hit of 1994. I was watching Football after Church like I did every Sunday, when I saw some pre-game jawing between 28 for Tampa Bay and 28 for the Redskins. It was Buckley representing Old ET and Darrell Green representing Texas A&I. Then, fellow Redskin Brian Mitchell decided to mouth off and starting laughing at Buckley. That was a huge mistake because on the ensuing kickoff, on what sounded like more an explosion than a hit, Buckley let Mitchell up like a Christmas tree and put him to sleep quicker than an overdose of ambien. My Dad was watching it saying, “I think he’s a former East Texas player.” He was, and a great one.
Co-Defensive Coordinators-Bobby Fox & Mark Copeland. Bobby Fox joined the Ernest Hawkins staff in 1970 and it was not long before he led a dominant defense to win the National Title in 1972 and almost again in 1980. The Blue Gang defense of the 1970’s is remarkable in that it was a large part by only team that Texas A&I played had a .500 record against and it was the ET Lions. Fox had been an All-American QB for the Lions in the Golden fifties and came back to coach em up on Defense. A Few years later, Coach Copeland roamed the sidelines of Memorial Stadium for many years just after his playing days in Commerce. I had 47 former players reach out to me and ask me to honor him as their D-Coordinator all time. I also had one booster who had seen some great defensive coaches in Commerce, but said Copeland was the best he had seen because of what types of defense he created with both coverage schemes and personnel. His son Mason is now a Lion and we look for great things from him as well. Congrats Coach Copeland!