BY GREG GULAS
The 49th Curbstone Coaches Hall of Fame Banquet is set for Sun., May 1 with 12 new members set for enshrinement during ceremonies at Mr. Anthony’s Banquet Center, Boardman.
Born on Nov. 22, 1970, one of this year’s football inductees, Tamron Smith, is considered one of the very best gridders ever to come out of the former Youngstown South High School.
An 1989 South High graduate, he was an All-City Series selection during both his junior and senior years, and he also earned All-Northeastern Ohio laurels in his senior season.
As a sophomore, he was a member of the Warriors 1986 playoff team, the only football team in the history of the school to make it to post-season play.
He set the South High single season rushing record and served as captain his senior season when he was named to the Northeast Ohio All-Star game.
His 180-yard, two-touchdown effort against Woodrow Wilson as a junior earned him Channel 33 ‘Player off the Week’ honors.
Smith accepted a scholarship to Youngstown State and red-shirted his freshman season.
From 1990-93, he pieced together arguably the best four seasons of any Penguin running back, as he led YSU to four consecutive play-off appearances, a perfect regular season (1990), two I-AA national championships and a runner up-spot.
Smith was a real force for whom opponents had to prepare, however, come post-season time.
In 13 career playoff games, he rushed for 1,361 yards (304 carries) and scored 15 touchdowns.
He graduated as Youngstown State’s all-time leading rusher, amassing a school record 4,866 yards on 987 totes (also a school mark).
Smith’s 52 touchdowns rank second to Adrian Brown (55) while at the time of his graduation, he held school marks with 22, 100-yard rushing games and 5,128 all-purpose yards.
During the regular season he chalked up 3,505 rushing yards, carrying the ball 583 times while crossing the goal line on 38 occasions.
As a senior he served as captain and went out on top of Division I-AA as he led YSU to a thrilling, 17-5 victory over the Marshall Thundering Herd in the I-AA title tilt, a game in which he rushed for 142 yards and scored a touchdown.
During his senior season, he rushed for 1,433 yards on 287 carries, averaging 4.99 yards per rush with a team-best 20 touchdowns, including scores in each post-season contest.
He earned AFCA and Kodak All-American honors and was named the team’s John Delserone ‘Most Valuable Player.’
As a junior, Smith led the Penguins to the national title game (they came up short, losing to the Marshall, 31-28), scoring three touchdowns, including the tally that knotted the score in the fourth quarter.
He rushed for 1,403 yards (322 carries) and scored 21 touchdowns as a junior, scoring four touchdowns twice; first against James Madison and then against Delaware State.
Seven of his scores came during post-season play.
During his sophomore year, he rushed for a career-best 1,545 yards (301 carries), an average of 5.1 yards per carry. The team’s 15-game season yielded a school, record-tying nine, 100-yard games and a total of 10 for the year.
His biggest score came in the national championship game against Marshall. With the Penguins leading 18-17 in the fourth quarter, he scored on a five-yard dash to cap a 19-point final frame as the Penguins rallied from an 11-point deficit for an eight-point victory.
In YSU’s semifinal win over Samford, he rushed for 246 yards on a school-record 46 carries, those 246 yards total still ranking fourth most all-time for a single game.
His freshman campaign produced 485 yards on 77 totes, resulting in an impressive 6.3 yards per carry. He also scored two touchdowns during his initial college season.
He earned his undergraduate degree in social work from YSU in 1993 and has coached scholastically at Woodrow Wilson, Girard, Campbell Memorial high schools locally, and Cleveland Glenville High School.
Smith currently works with the Clayton County (Ga.) Department of Family and Children Services and resides in Morrow, Georgia.
Former Champion High School, Ohio State and Denver Broncos standout, Randy Gradishar, will serve as guest speaker at this year’s Curbstone banquet.
A Trumbull County native, he was born Mar. 3, 1952 and was a two-sport star for the Golden Flashes, graduating in 1970 but not before earning six overall letters (three in each sport) as a star football and basketball player.
Scholastically, he earned All-League and All-County honors and was a Star Helmet Award honoree.
In basketball, he was the Golden Flashes leading rebounder all three years and the second leading scorer twice, earning All-League and All-County honors.
He holds Champion hoop records for most blocked shots in a career (44), top single game rebounder (26) and career rebounding leader as well (817).
For his efforts, he was inducted into the Champion High School Athletics Hall of Fame in 2004.
Upon graduation, he accepted a scholarship to play for The Ohio State University and legendary head football coach, Woody Hayes.
A two-time consensus All-American for the Bucks, he finished sixth overall in the 1973 Heisman Trophy balloting and was called by Hayes “the best linebacker I ever coached.”
He was a three-year starter for OSU (from 1971-73), helping the team to a 25-6-1 overall mark, two Big Ten titles and a 42-21 victory over the University of Southern California in the 1974 Rose Bowl, which capped a 10-0-1 senior campaign in which the Buckeyes allowed just 64 total points while posting four shutouts.
Gradishar registered 134 total tackles, including 60 solo stops as a senior when he was chosen to play in the 1974 Hula Bowl and Coaches’ All-American game.
An Academic All-American in 1973 (he graduated with a degree in Distributive Education), he was inducted into the Ohio State Varsity ‘O’ Hall of Fame in 1983 and named to the GTE Academic Hall of Fame in 1992.
He was also inducted into the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame (1987), College Football Hall of Fame (1998) and received the Dick Butkus Silver Anniversary Award, recognizing his achievements 25 years after his graduation from Ohio State.
Selected to the OSU Football All-Century Team in 2000, the Buckeyes’ end-of-season award for Most Outstanding Linebacker is now known as the ‘Randy Gradishar Award.’
Most recently, he was named as the eighth-best Ohio State player of all-time and made the list of Top-100 college football players of all-time as well.
In 2000, he was named to ABC Sports’ All-Century team at inside linebacker.
Drafted 14th overall in the 1974 NFL Draft, he played ten seasons for the Denver Broncos and was considered the centerpiece of its Orange Crush defense.
Considered one of the greatest defensive players in Broncos’ history, he became a starter midway through his rookie season and was named to his first Pro Bowl after the 1975 season; his second in the NFL.
From that 1975 campaign through his last in 1983, the Broncos defense allowed the third fewest rushing yards in the NFL, behind only the Pittsburgh Steel Curtain defense and the Cowboys’ Doomsday defense.
He was voted second-team All-AFC by United Press International in 1976 and in 1977, helped the Broncos to Super Bowl XII.
He then made the Pro Bowl for the second time, which began a string of six straight appearances (1977 to 1983).
A multiple all-pro selection, he was also voted the AFC Defensive Player of the Year by the Columbus Touchdown Club, was a consensus NFL ‘Defensive Player of the Year,’ was named defensive player of the year by both the Associated Press and UPI and received the George S. Halas Trophy as well.
The late Steve Sabol of NFL Films said of Gradishar, “His range separated him from others at his position. A sure and determined tackler, he was also an excellent pass defender. He had special qualities in terms of intelligence, preparation and athletic ability. His ‘play anticipation’ was the best in football. He had a great ability to square his body into the ball carrier at the moment of impact; which made him an incredible performer on third or fourth and short.”
In Jan., 2008, he was voted by a panel of former NFL players and coaches to Pro Football Weekly’s all-time 3-4 Defensive Team, joining Harry Carson, Lawrence Taylor, Andre Tippett, Howie Long, Lee Roy Selmon and Curley Culp.
Gradishar retired after the 1983 season and finished his career with an NFL record for most tackles all-time with 2,049 takedowns. He had 20 interceptions, which he returned for 335 yards and three touchdowns, also recovering 13 fumbles, which he returned for 72 yards and one touchdown.
His post-NFL career has been just as busy as he was on the field as he has made several trips to the Middle East in order to visit our troops, was president of the Denver Broncos Youth Foundation (1982–92), has served on the NFL Players Special Advisory Council (1992-95) and is the director of corporate communications for Phil Long car dealerships in Colorado.
Gradishar has worked with Promise Keepers in Denver (1994-97), participated in the Susan G. Komen for the Cure celebrity race to raise awareness and funds for research into curing breast cancer and serves as honorary chair for the Susan G. Komen for the Cure organization.
He is also president of the Phil Long Community Fund, a non-profit organization that provides financial resources to help champion self-esteem and the leadership of young people through excellence in education, sports and recreation.
Tickets for the Curbstone event are $60 each and can be obtained by calling 330-792-2272 or 330-506-6774, or by visiting the organization’s website at www.curbstonecoaches.org.
Other inductees this year are Chester Cooper (contribution to sports), Don Feren (contribution to sports), Rick Havrilla (bowling), John Hritz (coach, basketball), Craig Kikta (boxing), Jamie Palumbo (baseball), Rose Smith (bowling), Jim Tressel (coach, football), Bill Triplett (football), Herb Williams (football) and Bruce Zoldan (hockey).