Days to kickoff: 25
*=FOR THE ANONYMOUS EMAILER WHO GOES BY "MIKE PRICELESS": The following post was written by Tar Heel Tiger, who is an esteemed member of our community. I, Jay G. Tate, did not write the following passage. If the previous two sentences don't sufficiently convey the fact that Tar Heel Tiger wrote this piece, please contact me again. Perhaps I can call you on the phone and read to you. Polysyllabic words can be tricky in print.
Roy Haynes "Monk" Gafford, Jr. was born in 1920; he was a native of Fort Deposit, Ala. Monk was a three-year starter at halfback and was the very first Auburn back to rush for 1,000 yards in a single season.
He was recognized by the Touchdown Club of Atlanta as the SEC Player of the Year in 1941 and achieved All-American honors in 1942. The Birmingham Quarterback Club named Gafford as its 1942 SEC Player of the Year; in my biased opinion they showed a little better judgment than the national voters, who gave Heisman Trophy honors in 1942 to Georgia's Frankie Sinkwich.
Monk Gafford's most famous game was in 1942 against Sinkwich's top-ranked Georgia Bulldogs, a team which also included future All-American Charlie Trippi. Georgia had beaten Florida 75-0, a team which had beaten Auburn 6-0. The Dawgs outweighed the Auburn team by an average of over 20 lbs/man. Unequivocally, the best player on the field that day was neither Sinkwich nor Trippi, but our very own Monk Gafford. Auburn's #25 had 119 yards rushing on 21 carries, and added another 92 yards on three punt returns in leading Auburn to the stunning 27-13 upset.
For his Auburn career, Monk averaged a lofty 6.4 yards per carry. LSU coach Bernie Moore called Gafford "the best back the SEC had seen in the last 10 years." (1942 was the 10th year of the SEC).
Immediately following college, Gafford entered the Army in service to his country during World War II. He was the first officer with men taking over the infamous Dachau prison camp. As soon as the war was over, Monk served as player/coach of the Army's European Theater Operations championship football team. General George Patton proclaimed Monk Gafford the best back he'd ever seen.
After the war, Gafford spent a few years in the All-American Football Conference, the first with the Miami Seahawks and two subsequent seasons with the Brooklyn Dodgers. He went on to a business career in Tulsa, Okla., before returning to his native state for retirement. Monk Gafford was elected to the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in 1985.
* One of my favorites, HB/DB Tommy Lorino, from the '57 National Champs
* FB Wallace Clark in the late '60s.
* DB Roger Mitchell: He blocked the first kick against UA-T in 1972...no, not the punt, the extra point after UA-T's first TD, thus providing Auburn's eventual 17-16 margin of victory. I never get tired of watching him hurdle an upright Bisceglia on the 2nd punt block play.
* HB Tim Jessie, an outstanding back who was understandably overshadowed by Bo & Brent.
Sources: Philip Marshall, ASHOF, Wikipedia, and of course, the Auburn Football Media Guide.