The All-Time Wake Forest NFL Team

Bill George, Norm Snead and more

Before Brian Urlacher there was Mike Singletary and before Singletary there was Dick Butkus – Hall of Famers one and all who patrolled the middle of the field for the Chicago Bears.

But greatness at the middle-linebacker position didn’t start with any of them. It started with Bill George, whom the Bears drafted out of Wake Forest in the second round in 1951. George was selected first-team all-pro team eight times – more than Butkus, Singletary or Urlacher. He also went to eight Pro Bowls.

Frankly, Butkus, Singletary and Urlacher all owe a debt of gratitude to George for their busts in Canton. So do Willie Lanier, Jack Lambert and Ray Lewis.

That’s because George created the middle linebacker position in the NFL. In 1953 George was the nose guard in Chicago’s five-man defensive front. In 1954, coach George Halas stood George up and backed him off the line into a “middle” linebacker position to protect against the short crossing patterns in the passing game.

George intercepted 18 career passes, recovered 19 fumbles and sacked 25 ½ quarterbacks in his 15-year career. His number 61 has been retired by the Bears as has his number 47 been retired by Wake Forest. He was named to the 1950s NFL all-decade team and was the face of a 1963 defense that allowed the fewest yards and points in the league and delivered Halas his final NFL championship as a coach.

George is the only Hall of Famer produced by Wake Forest. So pencil him in as the captain and middle linebacker of the all-time Wake Forest NFL team.

Here is that team:

QB—Norm Snead, 16 seasons, went to Pro Bowls with NYG, Philly & Washington

HB—Billy Ray Barnes, 3 Pro Bowls,  9 seasons, 3,421 rushing yards, 38 TDs

FB—Ovie Mughelli, Pro Bowl, 9 seasons, blocked for Jamal Lewis & Michael Turner

WR—Ricky Proehl, 17 seasons, 669 receptions, 54 touchdowns, Super Bowl ring

WR–Jack Dolbin, 5 seasons, 94 receptions, 16.8-yard average, 7 touchdowns

TE–Desmond Clark, 12 seasons, 323 receptions, 27 touchdowns

T—Tyson Clabo, Pro Bowl, 9 seasons, 116 starts

T—Ben Coleman, 9 seasons, 104 starts

G—Billy Ard, 11 seasons, 123 starts, Super Bowl ring

G—Rich Baldinger, 12 seasons, 107 starts

C—Tony Mayberry, 3 Pro Bowls, 10 seasons, 145 starts

DE—Calvin Pace, 13 seasons, 60 sacks

DE—Michael McCrary, 2 Pro Bowls, 10 seasons, 71 sacks, Super Bowl ring

DT—Fred Robbins, 12 seasons, 148 starts, 35 ½ sacks, Super Bowl ring

DT—Gary Baldinger, 6 seasons, 44 games

OLB—Aaron Curry, 4 seasons, 39 starts, 5 ½ sacks

MLB—Bill George, Hall of Fame

OLB—Kyle Wilber, 10 seasons, 6 fumble recoveries

CB—Harry Dowda, 7 seasons, 16 interceptions

CB—Kevin Johnson, 6 seasons, 25 starts, 1 interception

S—Jessie Bates, 5 seasons, 3 100-tackle seasons, 10 interceptions

S—Ed Kissell, 2 seasons, 5 interceptions as a rookie in 1952

K—Bill George, 4 field goals, 25 points in 1954  

P—Harry Newsome, 9 seasons, 683 punts, 42.5-yard average

KR—Red Cochran, 58 returns (1940s), 2 TDs, averages: 18.5 yards on KR, 17.7 on PR

ST—John Henry Mills, Pro Bowl, 7 seasons, 100 games, 1 start

LS—Joe Zelenka, 13 seasons, 204 games with 4 teams (SF, Wash, Jax, Atlanta)

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