Bill Spears

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Bill Spears
circa 1927
Vanderbilt Commodores
Position Quarterback
Career history
College Vanderbilt (1925–1927)
Personal information
Born: August 31, 1906 (1906-08-31)
Jasper, Tennessee, U.S.
Died: December 31, 1992(1992-12-31) (aged 86)
Tennessee, U.S.
Weight 155 lb (70 kg)
Career highlights and awards
All-Southern (1926, 1927)
All-American (1926, 1927)
Ranked by coach Dan McGugin as one of his six best players
College Football Hall of Fame (1962)

William Douglas "Bill" Spears (August 31, 1906 – December 31, 1992) known as "Bounding Bill Spears" was an American football player and stand-out quarterback for Dan McGugin's Vanderbilt Commodores football teams from 1925 to 1927. Spears was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1962.[1] Grantland Rice said of Spears that he was one of the fastest quarters he'd ever seen.[2]

Early years[edit]

High school[edit]

Spears attended The McCallie School.


Playing years[edit]

Known as "Bounding Bill;" "Spears can run a team like a playing coach, drop kick, boot from placement, and pass cooly and accurately in the teeth of a charging line."[3]


Edwin Pope writes "In 1925 McGugin came up with his finest quarterback in Bill Spears. Spears learned much from his coach and in three seasons had an unbelievably low number of interceptions He led the Commodores three years in which they only lost to Georgia Tech and Auburn in '25, Alabama in '26. and Texas in '27."[4]


The 1926 team suffered its only loss to national champion Alabama.


One fellow wrote Vanderbilt produced "almost certainly the legit top Heisman candidate in Spears, if there had been a Heisman Trophy to award in 1927."[5] In a 32 to 0 victory over Tulane, Spears had touchdown runs of 88 and 77 yards.[6] Spears received the most votes for the 1927 All-Southern team,[7] and was selected the first-team All-American quarterback by the Associated Press.[8] The 1927 Vanderbilt Commodores included the nation's leading scorer in running back Jimmy Armistead, his understudy at quarterback was later coach Henry "Red" Sanders.[9][10]

Year Carries Rushing
Average Rushing TDs Completions Attempts Passing
Passing TDs Interceptions Kickoff
Kickoff TDs Punt
return average
returns TDs
1927 141 794 5.6 5 64 133 1207 9 4 5 177 1 30 5.9 7 16


Coaching years[edit]


Spears was an assistant on the 1929 team.[11]


  1. ^ College Football Hall of fame, Hall of Famers, Bill Spears Member Biography. Retrieved March 12, 2010.
  2. ^ Traughber, Bill (September 22, 2004). "College Hall of Fame Includes Vanderbilt". 
  3. ^ Horace C. Renegar (December 22, 1927). "Bama Star Is Captain Of Eleven". The Bismarck Tribune. p. 12. Retrieved March 15, 2015 – via  open access publication – free to read
  4. ^ Edwin Pope. Football's Greatest Coaches. pp. 345–346. 
  5. ^ a b Mark Purcell (November 1988). "Spears and Vandy excitement in 1927" (PDF). College Football Historical Society. 2 (1). 
  6. ^ Christopher J. Walsh. Where Football Is King: A History of the SEC. p. 123. 
  7. ^ "Spears Given Highest Vote in Selection". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. November 27, 1927. 
  8. ^ "East, West and South Share All-American Honors: Mythical Eleven Averages 185 Pounds With Every Man A Captain". Billings Gazette. 1927-12-11. 
  9. ^ "Sanders Admits Surprise Over PCC Sanity Code". Long Beach Independent. January 28, 1949. 
  10. ^ Joe Marvin (November 2002). "Red Sanders Part 1: The Vanderbilt Years" (PDF). College Football Historical Society. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-03-04. 
  11. ^ Fred Russell (1948). Funny Thing about Sports. p. 34.