Everyone knows our alma mater produces more teachers in the state of Texas than most other institutions. But the roots of the coaching tree from commerce expands throughout the country. I don’t want to go too far back so let’s start with the one who influenced almost all of them either directly or indirectly, the great Earnest Hawkins.
He is the winningest head coach in TAMUC/ETSU history and led the team to the NAIA National football title in 1972 along with 4 LSC titles also. He ruled the ETSU sidelines from 1964 to 1985 influencing thousands of young players and future coaches. One of his best players was Wade Wilson. I am not positive about this but I do not know a ET alumni who played more seasons in the NFL. But he made a name for himself as a coach also after playing for 17 years as he also coached for 17 more, including 10 years as quarterbacks coach for the Dallas Cowboys.
Coach Eddie Vowell was another branch of the tree as he had the daunting tasks of replacing the legend. He led the Lions to a LSC title in 1990 and our first three NCAA playoff appearances. I had the privilege of playing under him and as I sit back and look at my 5 seasons there from 88-92, there was a common thread that emerged…lots of guys went into coaching. Former greats started right there in Commerce following outstanding careers. Some of the ones I can think of right off hand were Kyle Mackey, Mark Copeland, Mike Trigg, Bobby Bounds and Mike Meador. Then there was the guys who I played with who are now in the coaching ranks like Clint Dolezel, Bobby Connelly, Donald Tryon, Eric Turner, Jerry Williams, Dean Lassiter and a hosts of others who I haven’t named. That’s just from my time there.
At hundreds of high schools just here in Texas you can find a coach on the staff from ‘Ol ET. Each and every one of them will tell you that they have roots that stretch back to the best to ever do it in ETSU history…the great and beloved Coach Earnest Hawkins. We lost Coach earlier this year and I hope the school will do us all the favor of reminding everyone how great he was with at the very least, a tribute video at every home game on the biggest video board in DII football there in Commerce, America. His spirit lives in every man that played under him and his story will make a great book and a fabulous movie someday.
With the early success of Colby Carthel, there is a whole new set of branches growing with up and comers like Yogi Gallegos preparing to branch off. Carthel didn’t come directly from the Hawkins tree but as soon as he arrived in Commerce he definitely climbed it and reaped the fruits from it. The “Roll Call” will never quite be the same from here on out without Coach Hawkins leading it but we all know his spirit will live forever as he watches over his turf in Commerce at Earnest Hawkins Field…#seeyouatthehawk
***please add the name of any guy not named in the article in the comments that you know is a coach from ETSU/TAMUC…I bet there will be a lot***