Big & Bad

The Toughest Offensive Linemen of All Time

A number of prolific linemen with superior size and strength have made their way through Chattanooga area high schools. Many of these same players successfully moved on to play at collegiate and professional levels. However, beyond size and strength, these linemen have an intangible streak of mean that makes them a terrifying mass of human aggression. Those who have been left in their wake will never forget.

Pete Brown
6’2” | 215 lbs.
High School: Rossville (1950)
College: Georgia Tech
Professional: San Francisco 49ers (NFL)

Pete Brown’s size for the time period in which he played made him a behemoth of the gridiron. He was a merchant of punishment in high school as an offensive tackle, defensive tackle, and linebacker. After earning All-State recognition at Rossville, Brown attended Georgia Tech to play both fullback and linebacker. In 1951, he shifted to center and was able to use his speed and power to become a stalwart on the line. At center, he helped the Jackets to a 23-0-1 record as a starter and a national championship in 1952. Brown was drafted in the tenth round of the 1953 NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers and played professionally for two seasons.

Ray Moss Jr.


6’2” | 192 lbs.
High School: Chattanooga Central (1955)
College: Tennessee

Ray Moss Jr. was small-framed by today’s standards, but he was a gifted lineman on both sides of the ball. Under the leadership of coach E.B. Etter at Central, Moss helped create a dynasty that won three consecutive state championships in 1952, 1953, and 1954. He had a reputation as one of the meanest, fastest, and most capable run blockers in his time as a Pounder. As a senior at Central, he earned All-State honors at center. Moss traded his Purple Pounders jersey to don the Tennessee Vols’ orange and white, lettering as a Vol in 1956, 1957, and 1958 and earning an invite to the Blue-Gray All Star Game in 1959.

Billy Hull 


6’2” | 210 lbs.
High School: Rossville (1963)
College: Tennessee Tech
Professional: Minnesota Vikings (NFL), BC Lions (Canadian Football League)

Billy Hull played a critical role in creating some of the most glorious days in Rossville’s football history. The 6-foot-2-inch, 210-pound ball of aggression buried the opposition on a weekly basis. His unwavering grit led the Bulldogs to an undefeated season and a state championship title in 1962. Hull received All-State and All-City honors as a senior at Rossville. He furthered his playing career at Tennessee Tech, where he was an All-Conference selection in 1966. Hull was selected by the Minnesota Vikings in the 1968 NFL Draft and also spent time in the Canadian Football League.

Sherold Walker 


6’2” | 210 lbs.
High School: Rossville (1963)
College: Tennessee Tech

Although Sherold Walker didn’t go on to a professional career like his Rossville and Tennessee Tech teammate Billy Hull, he was a dominant force to be reckoned with on the offensive line. When his team took home the state championship hardware in 1962, Walker also received All-State honors and was named Georgia’s Class AA Lineman of the Year. He earned a scholarship to play football at Tennessee Tech, where he patrolled the trenches for the Golden Eagles. Walker was presented with the Robert Hill Johnson Award as a senior, which is given to the TTU football player who makes the largest contribution to the team.

Bob Johnson


6’5” | 262 lbs.
High School: Bradley Central (1964)
College: Tennessee
Professional: Cincinnati Bengals

Bob Johnson was a menacing presence for Bradley Central in the early 60s. The lineman was named to All-State and All-American teams as a Bradley Central Bear in 1963. He moved on to Tennessee where he added technique to his athletic prowess, which earned him the Jacobs Trophy in 1967, presented to the SEC’s best blocker. Johnson’s additional collegiate accolades included All-SEC and All-American recognition in his junior and senior seasons. He was selected in the first round of the 1968 NFL Draft by the Cincinnati Bengals where he spent all 12 seasons of his professional career. Johnson was a three-time NFL Pro Bowler and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.

Bill McManus 


5’9” | 196 lbs.
High School: Dalton (1968)
College: Auburn

It’s rare to see an offensive line standout measure just 5-feet 9-inches and weigh in at not even 200 pounds. Bill McManus had the football know-how and beastliness to not only make it work, but make it work at a high level. At Dalton, he was named All-State for three consecutive years as a sophomore, junior, and senior. McManus also helped clear the path for Dalton’s 1967 state championship and was named Georgia Class AA Lineman of the Year. McManus would go on to start at Auburn as the smallest starting center in the SEC, a disadvantage that never kept McManus from performing exceptionally well. 

Bill Emendorfer   


6’2” | 210 lbs.
High School: Cleveland (1969)
College: Tennessee

Size may not have been Bill Emendorfer’s greatest asset on the football field, but he didn’t need any more than he had. Cleveland fans are quick to remark that on the gridiron he was flat-out unpleasant to encounter. In addition to receiving All-State honors at Cleveland, Emendorfer was dubbed one of the nation’s top ten high school All-Americans as a senior. As team captain in 1968, he led Cleveland to its first state championship title. He accepted a scholarship to play football at Tennessee, where he was the SEC’s runner-up for Freshman of the Year in 1969. Emendorfer earned All-SEC and All-American honors in his final season as a Vol.

John Hannah


6’2” | 265 lbs.
High School: Baylor (1969)
College: Alabama
Professional: New England Patriots (NFL)

The Hannah brothers were two of the all-time best football products to come out of the Chattanooga area. Their combined performance (along with their brother David and father Herb) puts the Hannah name in line with some of the great ruling football families in the nation. In 1966, John “Hog” Hannah began his career at Baylor where he would eventually lead the team to the Mid-South Championship. His dominating play at Baylor earned him a scholarship to Alabama where he earned All-America honors twice and was a critical component of multiple SEC championship-winning teams. Hannah was the fourth overall pick in the 1973 NFL Draft and spent his entire 13-year professional career with the New England Patriots. His intense passion for the game led him to be a nine-time NFL Pro Bowl selection, four-time Offensive Lineman of the Year, and a NFL Hall of Fame inductee.

Charley Hannah 

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6’5” | 260 lbs.
High School: Baylor (1973)
College: Alabama
Professional: Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Los Angeles Raiders (NFL)

Charley Hannah followed in his brother’s footsteps at Baylor where he imposed his will on the opposition. In 1972, Hannah led the Red Raiders as team captain and was named to the All-State team following the season. Like his father and brothers, he attended Alabama and was a strong physical presence on the Crimson Tide’s offensive and defensive lines. At Alabama, he was a recipient of the school’s Billy Neighbors Most Improved Lineman Award as a sophomore and junior. As a senior, Hannah was named co-captain and was an All-SEC selection. Hannah was drafted by the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1977 and later signed with the Los Angeles Raiders in 1983. Hannah’s 12-year professional career yielded a Super Bowl Championship title with the Los Angeles Raiders in the 1983-1984 season.

Peter Boll   


6’7” | 258 lbs.
High School: Notre Dame (1977)
College: Nebraska

Peter Boll towered over the opposition as an offensive tackle at Notre Dame, and he was known to use his size to bring loads of physicality to the Irish front line. As a senior, Boll was named All-State in 1976. As a top prospect out of the Chattanooga area, Boll received a number of college offers before accepting a scholarship to play football at the University of Nebraska, where he would follow in his father and grandfather’s footsteps. He was recruited to the Huskers to play both offensive and defensive line.

Peter Blazek


6’6” | 270 lbs.
High School: Hixson (1980)
College: Georgia Tech
Professional: Seattle Seahawks (NFL)

Standing at a lean, mean 6 feet 6 inches tall and 270 pounds, Peter Blazek bludgeoned opposing defensive linemen and linebackers. His aggressive style at Hixson put him under Georgia Tech’s watchful eye. After receiving an offer from the Tech Yellow Jackets, he decided to spend his college career there as a tackle. At Georgia Tech, Blazek lettered in 1981, 1983, and 1984 before being signed by the Seattle Seahawks in 1985. He spent the 1986 season with Seattle before furthering his football career as a coach.

Bill Mayo 


6’5” | 280 lbs.
High School: Dalton (1981)
College: Tennessee

Bill Mayo carried a swagger of fearlessness that put the “scared” into Dalton’s opponents every Friday night for three consecutive years. Even his choice in pets reflected his gutsiness – according to local media in the 80s, Mayo played caretaker to his pet python and tarantulas. In his years as a Catamont, the stouthearted offensive tackle received All-State honors in 1979 and 1980. Following his senior season, Mayo was named state lineman of the year in Georgia and All-America. Recruiters from 75 colleges pursued him before he accepted an offer to play at Tennessee, where he became All-SEC and All-America selections. Mayo was a four-year starter at Tennessee, finishing his collegiate career with an all-time school record of 46 starts.

Brent Johnson


6’2” | 255 lbs.
High School: Red Bank (1981)
College: UTC
Professional: Chicago Bears (NFL); Chicago Bruisers (Arena Football League)

From Red Bank High School through a professional career in the NFL and AFL, Brent Johnson was a battering ram. The gnarly lineman was named All-State as a senior at Red Bank. Johnson continued to make waves in Chattanooga when he opted to further his career at UTC, where he started in 44 consecutive games as a center and tackle. As a Moc, Johnson earned All-SoCon honors in 1984 and 1985. His dominant campaign at UTC was followed by a successful stint in the AFL, where he earned First Team All-Arena honors. In 1987, he signed with the NFL’s Chicago Bears where he spent one season.

David Douglas


6’4” | 285 lbs.
High School: Rhea County (1981)
College: Tennessee
Professional: Cincinnati Bengals, New England Patriots (NFL)

David Douglas is remembered for his incredible grit and persistence. As a senior at Rhea County, he was named to the All-District team and received an All-Tri-State honorable mention. Douglas walked on at Tennessee in 1981. In 1982, his determination and desire to succeed helped him earn the Volunteer Award, which made him a scholarship athlete. He was a key piece of the offensive line that led Tennessee to its 1985 SEC Championship title, the 1984 Sun Bowl, and the 1986 Sugar Bowl. After Douglas was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals in 1986, he appeared in Super Bowl XXIII during the 1988-1989 season.

Stacy Searels


6’5” | 267 lbs.
High School: Trion (1984)
College: Auburn
Professional: San Diego Chargers, Miami Dolphins (NFL); New York-New Jersey Knights (World League of American Football)

At Trion, offensive tackle Stacy Searels roamed the front lines in search of something to destroy as a high-motor player with exceptional technique and size. He received All-State honors in 1982 and continued to prowl the field as an Auburn Tiger where he would block for legendary running back and Heisman Trophy winner Bo Jackson. Searels was a three-year starter at Auburn, earning All-SEC and All-American honors. The San Diego Chargers snatched him in the fourth round of the 1988 NFL Draft, and he played professionally for three seasons. Searels has since had an extensive coaching career at the collegiate level and will enter his first year as the offensive line coach for Miami University this season.

Ted Gatewood


6’3” | 250 lbs.
High School: Red Bank (1984)
College: Memphis

At 250 pounds, Ted Gatewood wasn’t the largest center to play at Red Bank or Memphis, but a smash-mouth mentality and elite knowledge of the game made him one of the best. Gatewood brought agility and vision to the center position. A native of Memphis, Gatewood moved to Chattanooga and played football for the Red Bank Lions under legendary coach Tom Weathers. He returned to his stomping grounds to play for the Memphis Tigers in 1984. In a prolific career at Memphis, Gatewood garnered national attention, earning Associated Press All-American honors in 1986. The barreling center was also selected to the All-South Independent Conference and All-Metro Conference teams in his junior and senior seasons. Gatewood’s leadership on and off the field earned him the title of team captain in 1986 and 1987.

Jason Fitzgerald


6’4” | 263 lbs.
High School: Rhea County (1989)
College: Auburn

Jason Fitzgerald’s blocking ability as a Rhea County Golden Eagle was downright awesome. The 6-foot-4-inch, 263 pound mover of people was an All-State selection as a senior in 1988. As a college recruit, the Rhea County product was one of the most highly sought-after players of all time in the Chattanooga area with scholarship offers from more than 30 colleges. He ultimately chose to continue his father’s legacy as an Auburn Tiger. Although Fitzgerald battled knee injuries in college, he lettered at Auburn in 1991. Fitzgerald later returned to the Chattanooga area as a high school coach.

Steve Roberts


6’3” | 260 lbs.
High School: Dalton (1990)
College: Georgia

Steve Roberts wasn’t the biggest offensive guard, but he certainly didn’t play small ball. Roberts not only didn’t shy away from collisions, but seemed to encourage bone-crushing contact. He stood as a dominant force on the Dalton Catamounts offensive line. In his time as a Catamount, Roberts earned All-State honors as a junior and senior. Upon graduating from Dalton, he exchanged his Catamounts jersey for the Georgia Bulldogs and started at guard for four consecutive seasons in Athens. His play on the Bulldogs’ offensive line earned him All-SEC honors in 1994.

Sean Young


6’7” | 310 lbs.
High School: Northwest Whitfield (2000)
College: Tennessee

In three years as Northwest Whitfield’s starting offensive tackle, Sean “The Giant” Young didn’t allow a single sack on his quarterback. That’s some serious pass protection. His presence allowed the team to reach the region championship in 1999. That same season, Young was recognized as an All-State offensive lineman and earned a roster spot in the Florida-Georgia All-Star Game. He made his way to Tennessee by route of Neyland Stadium, where the four-year letterman played in 35 games, 20 of which he started. In 2001, the gritty, hard-nosed blocker played a key role on the Vols offensive line that enabled running back Travis Stephens to lead the SEC in rushing with 1,464 yards.

Davey Smith


6’6” | 290 lbs.
High School: Boyd-Buchanan (2001)
College: UTC

Facing Davey Smith in his time at Boyd-Buchanan was an absolute terror for the Buccaneers’ opposition. Great speed for his size, a natural-born aggression, and the love of hitting made Smith a premier lineman. In his senior season, he earned All-State honors and was a Tennessee Mr. Football Finalist for Lineman of the Year. Following his career at Boyd-Buchanan, Smith headlined the UTC Mocs’ 2001 signing class. Injury-riddled junior and senior seasons as a Moc slowed his career, but Smith will be remembered as one of the most tenacious linemen in Chattanooga’s history for a long time to come.

Jacques McClendon


6’3” | 320 lbs.
High School: Baylor (2006)
College: Tennessee
Professional: Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, Miami Dolphins (NFL)

Upon graduating from Baylor, Jacques McClendon had earned All-State honors twice, earned All-American honors, won the II-3A Mr. Football Lineman of the Year Award, and had been dubbed Tennessee’s Gatorade Player of the Year. It was at Tennessee and in the NFL where he truly focused on carving out a career as a standout offensive lineman. Today, McClendon moves well and typically arrives at the point of contact in a nasty mood. He has the strength to deliver on impact as well – he set the bench press record at Tennessee in 2008 after throwing up a ghastly 645 pounds. He was selected by the Indianapolis Colts in the fourth round of the 2010 NFL Draft and will begin his second season with the Miami Dolphins this year.

Chris Harr


6’4” | 299 lbs.
High School: Notre Dame (2007)
College: UTC
Professional: Kansas City Chiefs (NFL)

As a linebacker, tight end, and lineman, Chris Harr was a punishing presence at Notre Dame and was named the 2006 Region 3-AAA Defensive Player of the Year. He was also rewarded with All-State honors for his efforts as a lineman in his junior and senior years. In 2007, he was one of five true freshmen to see playing time at UTC. As durable as he was mean, Harr strung together an incredible 34 consecutive starts across three seasons. In his time at UTC, he earned SoCon All-Conference honors twice. Harr signed a free agent contract with the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs in 2011. Today, Harr is the tight ends coach at UTC. 

Evan Swindall


6’4” | 301 lbs.
High School: LaFayette (2009)
College: Ole Miss

Under his head coach and father Perry Swindall, Evan Swindall led LaFayette’s offensive line from the center position with power, poise, and vision. Swindall possessed the rare combination of strength and speed in a 300-pound body. As a center, his raw talent afforded him the ability to move monstrous defensive tackles as well as get to the second level to cut a linebacker. His talent made him a clear fit for the All-Region team as a sophomore and the All-State team as a senior at LaFayette. Swindall signed with Ole Miss in 2009 and went on to start at center for 33 consecutive games. In his final year with the Rebels, he was recognized as Ole Miss’ Most Valuable Senior and played in the 2014 College All-Star Bowl.

Kevin Revis


6’1” | 275 lbs.
High School: Rhea County (2009)
College: Tennessee, UTC

Kevin Revis isn’t among the biggest offensive linemen to play in the Chattanooga area, but he was truly a mauler in his time at Rhea County. Revis finished up his career as a Golden Eagle only after racking up honors including All-State, All-Region, All-City, and Region 4-AAAA Offensive Lineman of the Year as a senior. He continued his career at Tennessee for two seasons before transferring to UTC in 2011, where he became an impact player immediately. The rugged Revis had 32 starts in three seasons, missing only one game due to injury. He was named First Team All-SoCon following another strong season as a senior in 2013.

Jared Duke


6’7” | 377 lbs.
High School: Walker Valley (2010)
College: Ole Miss

Maxing out the weight and height categories on this year’s list, Jared Duke stands at a towering 6 feet 7 inches tall and 377 pounds. His grizzly combination of muscle and magnitude brought him All-State recognition as a senior at Walker Valley. That same season, Duke was also named to The Tennessean’s 2009 Dream Team. In 2010, he began his career at Ole Miss, where he was recruited as the No. 11 player overall in Tennessee in the class of 2010. As a four-year letterman at Ole Miss, he played in 47 career games, 17 of which he started. Duke wrapped up his collegiate career with a 25-17 victory over Georgia Tech in the 2013 Music City Bowl where he helped the Rebels rush for 221 yards in a 25-17 victory over Georgia Tech.

Watts Dantzler


6’7” | 320 lbs.
High School: Dalton (2011)
College: Georgia

Watts Dantzler is a legend in Dalton, a town that sees Dalton Catamount high school football as an integral part of its heritage. At an astounding 6 feet 7 inches tall, Dantzler used his burly frame and natural reach to manhandle opposing defenses. The Dalton product was awarded All-State honors in back-to-back seasons as a junior and senior. Following his senior season, he was ranked as the No. 23 offensive tackle in the nation among 2011 recruits according to Dantzler received more than 40 scholarship offers before deciding to follow in his father’s footsteps and attend Georgia. During the 2014 season, he played a major role in the Bulldogs’ rushing offense, which ranked first in the SEC with 257.8 rushing yards per game.

Barrett Gouger 


6’4” | 303 lbs.
High School: Baylor (2012)
College: Vanderbilt

Barrett Gouger’s power, quickness, and agility created a rare talent at the high school level. That, combined with a great knowledge of the game made him exceptionally dangerous to opposing defenses. Gouger left a trail of devastation as he collected All-State honors in his junior and senior seasons and was named Tennessee’s Division II Mr. Football Lineman of the Year in 2011. After redshirting in 2012 at Vanderbilt, Gouger immediately saw game action as soon as he was eligible. The big guy quietly crept up Vanderbilt’s depth chart and in 2015 became a silent assassin on the offensive line, gathering 44 pancake blocks and 11 domination blocks across 12 games. Gouger will return in 2016 as a redshirt senior and a clear-cut starter.

Austin Sanders   


6’5” | 310 lbs.
High School: Bradley Central (2013)
College: Tennessee

Before Austin Sanders became the first commitment to Tennessee’s 2013 recruiting class, he was busy doling out punishment to Bradley Central’s foes. By the end of his high school career, Sanders had collected All-State honors in his junior and senior years and was named Class 3A Tennessee Mr. Football. His performance helped Bradley Central to three consecutive playoff appearances. Sanders signed onto Butch Jones’ first recruiting class at Tennessee as the eighth-ranked prospect in the state. As a redshirt freshman at Tennessee, Sanders played in five games. After suffering a season-ending injury as a redshirt sophomore, Sanders will look to bounce back and clear the path to restored glory for Vols hopefuls as a redshirt junior in 2016.

Malik Brewer


6’3” | 325 lbs.
High School: Boyd-Buchanan (2013)
College: Tusculum

At 6 feet 3 inches tall and 325 pounds, Malik Brewer packed a heavy punch for the Boyd-Buchanan Buccaneers. He received All-State and All-Region honors following a senior season performance that included 65 tackles, six tackles for loss, two sacks, and one fumble recovery. The four-year starter was an unmovable force on the Buccaneers’ line and led the team to a 43-13 record during his high school career. With Brewer anchoring the line, the Bucs not only made the postseason every year from 2009 to 2012, but advanced to the quarterfinals or better. He received a full scholarship to play football at Tusculum College, where he is now a junior.

Harrison Moon


6’4” | 281 lbs.
High School: Signal Mountain (2015)
College: Mississippi State

Harrison Moon has been playing football since the first grade, so it’s no surprise that he has a history of hitting hard. His size, strength, and grit got him to the varsity playing field as a middle schooler where he helped pave the way to an undefeated, state championship-winning season for Signal Mountain in 2010. He was an All-State selection in 2013 as a junior. As a senior, he was again named All-State, was named a Class 2A Tennessee Mr. Football finalist, and signed on with the Mississippi State Bulldogs as the No. 17 overall player in the class of 2015 out of the state of Tennessee. Expect the redshirt freshman to be sending SEC linebackers and defensive ends flying with his hulking 6-foot-4-inch frame in the very near future.