Widby is 'legend'

In the 1966-67 school year, Tennessee's Ron Widby followed up an NCAA punting championship in the fall by leading the Tennessee Vols basketball team to the SEC title that winter. Named All-America in both sports, Widby is the University of Tennessee's 2005 "SEC Basketball Legend" and will be so honored at the SEC Basketball Tournament in Atlanta March 10-13.

He joins Gary Waites, Alabama; Scott Hastings, Arkansas; Rex Frederick, Auburn; Stacey Poole, Florida; Ronnie Hogue, Georgia; Sam Bowie, Kentucky; Bobby Lowther, LSU; Coolidge Ball, Ole Miss; Jack Bouldin, Mississippi State; Art Whisnant, South Carolina; and Jeff Fosnes, Vanderbilt, in the cavalcade of former stars to be recognized at halftime of each team's first tournament game

Widby's career at Tennessee brought a wholesale revision to the Vol record books, as he left UT the school's second all-time leading scorer (1,432 points) and the all-time single season points leader (619 points). He averaged 18.1 points per game during his career and was the SEC's Sophomore of the Year in 1964-65. He averaged in double figures all three years as a Vol. He was the last four-sport letterman at Tennessee, with three varsity letters in football, three in basketball, and one each in baseball and golf.

"It was probably one of the best times I've had in sports," said Widby. "The 1967 team was close. Everyone knew their role and did their job exceptionally well. It was a thrill to be part of a great team that helped me achieve."

"We were picked fifth or sixth preseason, but we had confidence in ourselves. I had told Knoxville News Sentinel reporter Marvin West before the season we were going to win it. There was a good corps of players."

One of Tennessee's most gifted athletes ever, Widby was the NCAA-authenticated punting champion with a 43.8-yard average on 48 punts. In basketball, he was named conference player of the year after leading a youthful Vols squad to the SEC title.

Widby was a two-time All-SEC selection for Ray Mears-coached teams in 1966 and 1967 and helped the Vols surprise nearly everybody by winning the SEC crown in 1967. That year, he averaged 22.1 points and 8.7 rebounds and carried his team through the peaks and valleys of an 18-game conference schedule. It was something to watch night-in and night-out.

On the evening of his home finale in 1967, Widby scored a school-record 50 points, a mark that lasted 20 years before Tony White canned 51 against Auburn in 1987.

After leaving Tennessee, he played in the NFL with Dallas and Green Bay, playing in Super Bowls V and VI for the Cowboys and in the 1971 Pro Bowl. He had an 84-yard punt in 1968 against New Orleans while at Dallas, setting a Cowboys record. He also tried his hand on the PGA Senior Golf Tour, but now is back in private business as a sales rep with Portals Plus in his hometown of Wichita Falls, Texas, a company that manufactures roof drains and accessories.

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