Paying his dues in the trenches, Herman Hickman became known for pushing UT opponents around.
After entering Tennessee as a 203-pound freshman, Hickman boosted to 225 as a senior to anchor the Volunteers' line. In fact, it was his dominating performance during the 1931 Charity Bowl where Hickman caught the eye of the national press.
In the early stages against New York University, the Violets
had the ball on Tennessee's 5-yard line preparing to score. But on four consecutive
plays, Hickman single-handedly pushed NYU back 18 yards to the 23. The performance
sent the sportswriters into a rage to adjust their All-America teams and Hickman's
name appeared multiple times for the honor.
After a three-year career carried the Vols to a 27-1-2 record, Hickman is considered by many to be the most famous lineman in the history of Southern football. His speed for such a large man was difficult for blockers to stop.
Along with his gridiron performances, Hickman wore many hats. He once held the UT record in the shot put. After finishing his collegiate career, Hickman spent three years in pro football with the Brooklyn Dodgers. He then had a stint as a professional wrestler under the name "Tennessee Terror," in which he competed in over 500 matches.
Hickman returned to football as an assistant at Wake Forest, North Carolina and Army. His success at Army resulted in Yale hiring him as the school's first head coach who was not an alumnus. He finished with a 16-18-2 record from 1948-51 before becoming a member of the first staff at Sports Illustrated.