May 4, 2009
Longtime Tennessee football legend George Cafego was one of six individuals named over the weekend to the 2009 class of the West Virginia Coaches Association North-South Hall of Fame.
All six native West Virginians played in the state's North-South All-Star Game and went on to gain football distinction at higher levels.
The six, George Cafego, William Russell Craft, Alex Hawkins, Leon McCoy, Bobby Moss and Floyd (Ben) Schwartzwalder, will be inducted June 20 at the North-South Game at Charleston's Laidley Field.
Not long after George Cafego's death in 1998, sportscaster Keith Jackson offered a tribute on national television. "Nobody's name rests higher in Tennessee football than George Cafego,'' Jackson said.
Cafego, a Scarbro, W.Va., native and Oak Hill High School graduate, played in the 1936 North-South Game and began his college career at Georgia. But after one year, he transferred to Tennessee, where he twice earned All-America and All-Southeastern Conference honors as a 5-foot-10, 169-pound quarterback. He also punted and returned kicks.
He played in the 1939 Orange Bowl in which the Volunteers defeated Oklahoma 17-0 and helped the Vols earn a berth in the 1940 Rose Bowl. UT lost that one to Southern California 14-0, but Cafego did not play in the game because of injuries.
In voting for the Heisman Trophy, he finished seventh in 1938 and fourth in 1939. He was selected as the No. 1 overall pick by the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1940 NFL draft and played one season before beginning service in the Army. He resumed his NFL career in 1943 and played five games with the Washington Redskins and concluded his playing career as a member of the Boston Yanks in 1944 and '45.
After working as an assistant coach at Wyoming, Furman and Arkansas, he returned to his alma mater in 1955 and spent 30 years as an assistant.
He was elected to the Tennessee Hall of Fame in 1966, the College Football Hall of Fame in 1969, the West Virginia Hall of Fame in 1973 and the Orange Bowl Hall of Fame in 1985.
Cafego died Feb. 9, 1998, in Knoxville, at age 82.
-- Story courtesy The Charleston (W.Va.) Gazette.