Auburn's Greatest Receiver Thrilled By Honor

Terry Beasley discusses his Auburn football career and other subjects in an interview with <i>Inside the Auburn Tigers</i> editor Mark Murphy.

Auburn, Ala.--A combination of blinding speed, exceptional hands, natural strength and balance combined with a burning desire to be the best are the trademarks of Auburn's newest member of the National Football Foundation College Football Hall of Fame.

Few players in the 110-year history of Auburn University football have captured the imagination of Tiger partisans like Beasley, a star for exciting Auburn football teams in 1969, 1970 and 1971.

Terry Beasley could run the tough routes over the middle, the finesse routes on the corner and was feared across the SEC for his speed on deep balls.

Now, more than three decades after he last donned the orange and blue, it is Beasley's turn for another thrill or two and that is what is happening with Tuesday's announcement that the wide receiver has made the Hall of Fame. "I am so excited, I am almost out of my skin," Beasley says. "This is so rewarding and I am so thankful to God because so many prayers have been prayed for me to get this award. I feel so honored for all of the prayers that have been offered up to God for me. So have many people have been supportive."

While Beasley says football has been a blessing, the game has also been a curse that still haunts him today. A series of concussions while playing the game forced his premature retirement from the San Francisco '49ers. Even worse, he has had to retire from successful business ventures in landscaping and golf cart manufacturing because of his health. He is retired and living with his wife near Birmingham. "There is no way you could work when I would make a business trip and my memory would go on me and I couldn't even find my way back home," Beasley says.

Terry Beasley enjoys at winning afternoon on the gridiron as a Tiger.

The former Tiger says a strong faith in God has helped him cope with his memory shortcomings and other physical problems. He also says he doesn't regret playing football and doing it with passion.

"Even though I worked hard as a football player and I gave a lot of my body to the game and those kind of things, God gave me some ability and I have tried to do my very best and give my all to take advantage of the blessing.

"When I was on the football field, I was just one of 11 guys out there playing my position. It was my belief that if you aren't doing your best, the other 10 guys out there on the field with you won't get to play at their best so it takes everybody clicking to make the team click. It is a team sport and that is something I really enjoyed."

Beasley says he wants the Auburn fans to share in his happiness because he always has felt that the students, faculty, alumni and others at the games who supported the Tigers were part of the reason for the success of the 1969-71 Tigers. "We were a family during my time at Auburn," Beasley says. "That is very special to me."

Beasley has endowed an academic scholarship to Auburn. The Terry Beasley Number 88 Scholarship provides funds to underprivileged but gifted students who want to study at the university.

When asked what he believes made him successful on the football field, Beasley tells Inside the Auburn Tigers: "I was a fast runner. I was very strong. God gave me speed and strength and the ability to do extraordinary workouts to prepare for games. When the team was asleep, I was out running by myself. When they would look up at me in the fourth quarter and say, ‘Beas, can you get us six?' What was I going to tell them? ‘No, I am as tired as you are.' I would say yes, I can do it. Just throw the ball and I will be there.'

"You have got to run 15, 16 or 17 miles a week, doing it four nights a week, to be there and that is what I did. I actually ran behind a car with a rope pulling me to stretch my stride to make me faster. We didn't have the kites and weights and other modern training equipment that the receivers have these days.

"Coach (Shug) Jordan didn't let us run track much," Beasley remembers. "I got to run in three track meets. I ran a 6.0 60-yard dash and the world record was 5.9 and my goal was to run in the Olympics. His thought was that track running and football were different types of running and developed different types of leg muscles. There was a certain amount of truth to that and I understood his point."

Beasley says the years seem to have passed by very quickly since he finished at Auburn. "It seems like it wasn't that long ago when I was playing for Auburn. Our time on Earth is so short that we shouldn't waste it. I am so thankful to God that I didn't waste the talent that He gave me."

Beasley says he is looking forward to the formal induction ceremonies that will be held in New York City later this year. He is the ninth man with Auburn connections to make the College Football Hall of Fame. He joins his teammate, Heisman Trophy winner quarterback Pat Sullivan, fullback Tucker Frederickson, halfback Jimmy Hitchcock and running back Bo Jackson in the hall. Auburn coaches John Heisman (1895-1899), Mike Donahue (1904-1906, 1908-1922) and Ralph "Shug" Jordan (1951-75) are in the Hall of Fame.

Pat Dye, who coached the Tigers from 1981 through 1992, was also on the ballot for the Hall of Fame this year, but came up short in the balloting. "I am really sorry that Coach Dye didn't get in," Beasley says. "Coach Dye is very deserving. Hopefully, he will get in next year.

"Across the country, I am sure there are thousands of deserving people to be inducted into the hall of fame. I am just thankful to God that we are getting an Auburn person in this year because we have lots more Auburn people who are deserving."

Beasley earned All-America honors as a junior and a senior.

Tiger Ticket Extra: After a tremendous season on the freshman team in 1968, Auburn fans eagerly anticipated the varsity debut of the dynamic duo of Sullivan and Beasley in the fall of 1969. On Sept. 20th, the 35,000 fans at Cliff Hare Stadium rose in unison as on the first play of the season, Sullivan dropped deep into the pocket and launched a long sideline bomb to Beasley. The Auburn quarterback said he was too pumped up and the ball sailed 10 yards over the head of the speedster, who had such exceptional speed he was difficult to overthrow. Jordan, who was known for starting the year with a conservative dive play into the middle of the line, signalled the start of a new era with the exciting pass play. Auburn fans were so appreciative of what they had seen that the incomplete pass brought a huge roar of approval from the crowd and a standing ovation as Beasley ran back towards the Auburn huddle...AU Athletic Director David Housel says the honor is well deserved for the former Tiger star. "Coach Bryant at Alabama had it right when he said in 1970 and 1971 he had never seen a better player at his position in the Southeastern Conference than Terry Beasley." Housel adds that a lot of Auburn players have brought excitement to Tiger fans over the years, but notes that the wide receiver from Montgomery takes a backseat to nobody in that department.

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