Ex-Vol Wantland dies

Hal Wantland, a versatile Tennessee tailback in the mid-1960s, died Tuesday morning in Knoxville. He was 63.

Wantland arrived on the UT campus from his hometown of Columbia at the end of Bowden Wyatt's head coaching reign in 1962, earning varsity letters in 1963, 1964 and 1965. Wantland played both tailback and wingback in an era that saw three head coaches during his time -- Wyatt, Jim McDonald and Doug Dickey. With those changes came Tennessee's move from the single wing to the T-formation.

In his senior season, Wantland tried to be whatever Dickey needed - quarterback, running back, wingback. A natural born leader, he was chosen as the team captain that same year.

He finished his career with 1,529 all-purpose yards, contributing to that total in rushing, receiving, punt returns, kickoff returns and interception returns, in addition to an additional 262 passing yards. Wantland also scored 12 career touchdowns.

But a Wantland highlight occurred after his final campaign when he earned the coveted Jacobs Blocking Trophy in 1965. Presented annually to the SEC's outstanding blocker by vote of the league coaches, Wantland is one of 13 Vols to have won the award.

Because of his senior season efforts, Wantland played in the Blue Gray All-Star Game in Montgomery, Ala., and the Coaches All-America game in Lubbock Texas. He was selected in the 16th round of the 1966 NFL Draft by the Washington Redskins, and then played one year for the Miami Dolphins.

Wantland never lost touch with UT. He was a leader in the rejuvenation of the Lettermen's T Club and worked on the committee to plan the Letterman's Wall of Fame outside the Neyland-Thompson Sports Center. He was serving as secretary-treasurer in the organization when he died.

Funeral services are set for Friday at 2 p.m. at the Central Baptist Church of Bearden. Family will receive friends Thursday from 5-7 p.m. at Mann's/Rose Heritage Chapel on Kingston Pike, and then Friday before services from 1-2 p.m.


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