Once again, our attention stays on the some of the greatest linemen to ever wear the uniforms of the East Texas State/Texas A&M-Commerce jersey. So here they are, and in no particular order. First, I am starting with a very special group, I had 3 Lion greats say this was a special offensive line, and I present the rest of the 1991 offensive line.
Dwayne Phorne-(1990-1991) A Baylor Transfer, (and who can blame him for that) Phorne was an amazing presence on the offensive line. Member of two NCAA playoff teams, he total body of work in incredible and like many of this list, he anchored the line. A two time consensus All-American, Phorne came to Commerce via Dallas, where he was a member of perhaps the greatest Texas High School Football team ever, the 1988 Dallas Carter Cowboys and is named as an all time great for the Cowboys. I got a lot of guys who voted for a second time saying that in reality, he belonged on the first team, and the more I researched the guy, the more I agreed. Phorne played Arena League for the Dallas Texans for a couple of seasons before retiring. The definition of a Lion and an integral piece of the success and dominance of the 90’s.
Earl Bell-1991-1992-A two year contributor, Bell was First Team All LSC his senior year including 2nd team in 91 and was An All-American in 1992 as well. Bell was voted top linemen by his teammates as well as serving as a team captain in 1992. Bell joined his teammate Phorne and played for the Dallas Texans in the Arena Leagues after leaving ETSU for one year and then finished his career in Las Vegas.
David Gaskamp–1990-1991-Another 2 year player, Gaskamp was second team All-Conference in 1991 as a part of the great line of Commerce Version 91. Very easily could have been a first team All Conference, but with All-Conference voting being as political as it is, it does not invalidate how good of a player he was.
Joseph Showell–1989-1991-Honorable Mention during the 1991 season, he shared accolades with 3 first team All LSC members and two 3 All-Americans. Showell was a member of teams that had a ten win season and playoff appearances in 1990 and 1991.
These last 2 didn’t get the major accolades such as All-Americans, but they were very good according to all of their teammates, but the collective numbers put up in 1991 were phenomenal (32 ppg, 450 ypg), and only trail behind the 2014, 2013, 2015, and 1990 teams in total offense for a season. No doubt they belong on this list.
Bobby Connelly–1991-1994-Connelly was one another prime lineman during the early 90’s. 2nd team all Conference selection as well as an All-American selections by two different publications, Connelly was known for being a tough interior guy and could also block downfield very well. He has had a successful coaching career in the college ranks since his Commerce days. He has coached the offensive line at Oklahoma State and now is in the City of Angels working as a linemen coach at the University of Southern California.
Jackie Woods–1970-1973-A member of the offensive line of the 1972 National Title team, Woods earned letters as a Lions offensive lineman and linebacker in ’70, ’72, ’73 and ’74. An honorable mention All-American in ’73, Woods was a first-team All-Lone Star Conference offensive line selection in ’73, a second-team selection in ’74 and an honorable mention All-LSC member in ’72. He was also an honorable mention selection on the Academic All-LSC team in ’73 and was the Lions Most Valuable Offensive Lineman and a team captain in ’74. Woods ’72 Lions Team was inducted into the Lions Athletic Hall of Fame in 2007. Woods started a career in coaching Sherman before passing away in 2010. Hat tip to family members and former teammates for the info. The one thing I was asked to put by a teammate was to them the most important, “He was an incredibly decent man, and a man who loved the Lord.” Really that last line is all you need in my book.
David Bryant–1974-1977- Bryant played on 3 good Lion teams, including the 1974 team that took on Bethune Cookeman in Florida and tied up a team that was one of the best in the Nation. A second team All-LSC Selection in 1975 and 1976 and first teamer in 1977, Bryant capped off his career with a first team All American Selection by the NAIA. Bryant never went pro, but his career in Commerce speaks volumes, and was a blocker on the line when Tom Hay split the uprights to bring Texas A&M Kingsville’s 46 game streak to an end.
Dean Hesse–1954-1956-Hesse had a fantastic career in Commerce, a two time conference Champion in 1954 and 1955, Hesse was an All-American and first team All-Conference. After his time in Commerce, Hesse was drafted by the New York Giants in 1957 and then became a coach and did something pretty amazing. I grew up near Canton (near Tyler) and that program has typically been a down program, but in 1964 he led the team the Eagles, with Hesse at the Helm, did not allow ONE POINT during the 10 game regular season and only allow 12 the entire year over a 12 game season, it is probably Canton’s best team still. Another Lion Legend.
Fred Polser–1962-1964-A two time All-American and two time first team All LSC, Polser was one of the best linemen in the entire nation during his 3 year stint in Commerce. Helping transition from the JV Sikes Power T formation to the Ernest Hawkins Slot I, Polser excelled in both and was drafted in the 1964 NFL draft by the San Francisco 49ers.
Steve Washington–1976-1979-Along with David Bryant, Allowed Lion QB Terry Skinner and Wade Wilson to throw for a lot of yards and score a lot of touchdowns. Two time All-LSC First team and First team All American in 1977, Washington was one of those guys who went under the radar and went undrafted, but was another Lion who belongs on this List and in the names of the great players of Old ET.
I would like to think so many people for the votes to recognize these others who should have been on the first page. There have been many a great lineman to come through Commerce, and I hope this list, along with the other, encompasses the best of the best.