As many of you know, Billy Minor has been writing for the Lion Wire for almost a year now. He is our most recent addition, and he has been a great addition to our staff. However today, myself and Russell McLean have decided to start something that both of us feel strongly about, and that is to see our friend and comrade be in the next Lion Athletics Hall of Fame.
Now, like so many of the great Lions of the past, Billy’s story is a remarkable one, and one that few people really know. He is a Lion and not just because he wore the blue and gold, but because he lives up to the current mantra of our school, from grit to greatness.
Billy was born on a Military base in Fort Riley, Kansas, but shortly moved to his hometown of Paris. He came from a single parent household where his mother worked the night shift as a nurse to take care of her family. From the time he was in Elementary school, Billy could not wait to be don the silver and blue of the Paris High Wildcats. He grew up watching future Lion Hall of Famer and fellow Paris native Ricky Dirks put on a show every Friday night, and Wes Tidwell was another ET Lion that Billy looked up to as a youngster, and wore # 80 as a nod to his favorite wide receiver, the great Jerry Rice.
While his mother was at work when he got home and missed many of his games due to her demanding work schedule, Billy spent a lot of time with his beloved Grandparents. “He was the ultimate Man to me, and taught me how to be a Man”, Billy says of his Grandfather. He also credits his Uncles for being at his game and supporting him.
Billy played high school football for the great Allen Wilson, a coaching legend in both North and East Texas. Wilson brought the legendary “Silver Crush” mentality to the Wildcats and won a state championship in 1988. Wilson also later coached at John Tyler High in Tyler where he won a state title in 1994 and finally coached at the legendary Texas Program Carter High in Dallas where he coached future Texas Tech All-American and current pro Michael Crabtree.
Billy’s high school career was outstanding. His senior year he helped lead the team to a 9-1 record, while he was 3rd team All-State, 1st team All district, 1st team All Red River Valley, Team offensive player of the year=, and was also was all state and all district in track.
While he had an impressive resume to be a Division I recruit, he only got marginal looks from schools like Louisiana Tech and Tulsa. He tells his story; “I had no offers or anything. Had went and talked to the recruiter for the Marines and told the guy to give me 2 weeks and if I had nothing I would enlist with one of my buddies. This was in July. My track coach contacted me and asked what I was doing. Told him about to join the military. He made some calls for me and got East Texas to give me a try. They invited me to camp but didn’t promise me anything. Walked on and they gave me a scholarship.”
Billy also scored well on his ACT test to help cover the costs of what his scholarship did not cover. He started his career in 1988. That year, the Lions finished 2nd in the LSC and had reached as high as # 2 in the nation before dropping the final two games of the season, costing them a shot at the national championship that looked within reach just a few weeks earlier. The man throwing him passes was Lion great Mike Trigg, and it looked like a promising career was headed his way, but in 1989, the injury bug that bit a lot of Lions that year, and for Billy, it was his knee. He felt down, but worked hard to rehab it and keep his spot in the team and in the Lion offense. Then, the great 1990 team came. That year during the regular season, he caught 18 passes for 416 yards and 5 touchdowns and helped the Lions win the Lone Star Conference Championship for the first time since 1983 and ET finished at National Quarterfinalists.
During the 1991 season, Billy once again had a great season as did the Lions, finishing as NCAA Division II Quarterfinalists once again. During the regular season he hauled in 25 catches for 571 yards and 4 touchdowns, earning him Lone Star Conference All-Conference honors. He had proven himself to be a valuable asset to the potent Lion offense.
In 1992, he saved his best performance in Commerce for last. He caught 40 passes for 731 yards and 5 touchdowns, leading the Lions to another high ranking in the polls and was named First Team All-LSC. His resume is super impressive-
Honorable Mention All-LSC 1991
First Team All-LSC 1992
Left Commerce as a Top 10 in receptions and receiving yards. Still top 10 in yards. Team captain in 1992, finished career with 86 catches 1766 yards 14 Touchdowns, Added another 12 catches for 229 yards in 4 playoff games.(playoff stats were unofficial back then)
Averaged over 20 yards per catch. Highest average among the top 10. Voted offensive back of the year in 1992 by team.
Played in 35 wins for the Lions over career, overall record was 35-13 in his four years.
Signed free agent deal with the Philadelphia Eagles and also played Arena League for the Dallas Texans under Mike Trigg.
From what he did on the field, Billy Minor deserves to be in the A&M-Commerce Lion Hall of Fame, but he has done more than that. He has given time and money to his alma mater dear, he was one of the first people to support this site and provide feedback and information that was needed in the early days of this site. He is a family man and a loving Husband and Father. He has been pouring into the next generation by coaching youth sports for many years now, and providing his children with support in their own athletic endeavors. He has become more than just an acquaintance, he our friend, and I thank God for his friendship every day because he lives the motto and the creed of our University.
Ceaseless Industry-His work on the field in Commerce and to this day makes his world a better place. Today, that includes his workplace, his association with the former players, his family, and his community.
Fearless Investigation-Billy is a man who digs deep in his thoughts. He just does not provide information, but provides it in a context that some of us may not understand, and he is every much a listener, understanding that gathering facts from all angles is important,.
Unfettered Thought-Billy is an independent thinker. He is the opposite of groupthink and makes his own opinion based on what he observes, and he is never set in his ways. He understands that the world, and people change, and how he looks at life now is different that 10 and 20 years ago. He does not always agree with us, but he uses logic, experience and reason to tell us why and how he comes to different conclusions on some things.
Unselfish Service to Others-Billy has a busy life with his career, his hobbies, and his family, and yet he gives his time unselfishly to his community, Texas A&M-Commerce, and to this site. He is the model example of a man who will do whatever it takes for a group to be successful. He practiced that on the field, and he does the same now. He is the model of what a man should be, from a Husband, to a Father, and a Friend.
From grit to greatness-
What makes Texas A&M-Commerce special is that is takes many of us from average places and gives us the tools to be great. Billy Minor came from a place in his life where he could have easily never gone to college, or played college football, but he did. His grit was there, and it was his grit that made him an all time Lion great.
Here are some parting words from members of the Wire Staff-
“Here at The Wire, we have written about many Lion athletic greats, and it’s been a joy to do so. This is one , though, is special. I get to write not only about a great player, but a friend and colleague.
Simply put, Billy Minor belongs in the Lion Hall of Fame. In the great tradition of Lion skill players, and in spite of the recent explosion in offensive and passing production in Commerce, Billy Minor remains the all time leader in yards per catch. When he left Commerce in 1992, he was in the top 10 in receptions and receiving yards. He’s still stands 8th all time in total yards. Honorable mention all LSC in 1991, and first team in 1992, Billy added 12 catches for 229 yards in four playoff games. That’s almost 20 yards per catch when it mattered the most. All this from a guy who started his career as a walk on.
As great of a player as he was, Billy is a better husband and father. Despite growing up in a single parent household, he found his way through athletics, and today plays a big role in youth sports in Sherman.”-Russell McLean
Billy Minor is my partner, my co-writer, and most importantly, he is my friend. His entire life has the quality of a Hall of Fame member, from his first catch in 1988 until now, he deserves to be in the Hall. Did he leave Commerce better than when he found it, and is he an ambassador of Texas A&M-Commerce to his community? The answer is yes, and what a vital part of it he was, and continues to be. He caught passes from 4 of the best quarterbacks in program history, and played on 4 of the best teams in program history, making his mark by simply doing his job every Saturday from 1988-1992.
“He bleeds blue and gold, and he belongs in the Hall of Fame, so it is my pleasure to throw my full support behind him in the hopes of getting him into a place where he deserves”.-Brian Pate