Colquitt went from department store to UT punter in 1975

Tennessee punter Craig Colquitt, left, gets a kick away against Oregon State in the Vols' 41-10 win in Knoxville.

Tennessee punter Craig Colquitt, left, gets a kick away against Oregon State in the Vols' 41-10 win in Knoxville.

Craig Colquitt sits on the front porch of his Knoxville home. The former University of Tennessee
punter will be inducted into the Greater Knoxville Sports Hall of Fame.

Photo by Briana Scroggins

Craig Colquitt sits on the front porch of his Knoxville home. The former University of Tennessee punter will be inducted into the Greater Knoxville Sports Hall of Fame.

Photo with no caption

Is there a name anywhere so identified with a position and a school or team in all of football as Colquitt, punting and Tennessee?

Check the career punting leaders after nearly 120 years of Vol football:

1, Colquitt, J.

2, Colquitt, B.

3, Colquitt, D.

4, Colquitt, C.

The genesis of this Colquitt punting legacy started not so very far from Neyland Stadium. It started one day in the early 1970s on a field in South Knoxville.

South High School coach Willard Brown was losing his senior punter and asked his squad for volunteers, anybody interested in trying the job.

"The entire team raised their hands,'' Craig Colquitt recalled.

"It kept getting narrowed down and I won the job.''

Colquitt wasn't born with a golden foot. He hadn't been shipped off to a punting academy as a pre-schooler.

He was in fact South's star running back and played end on defense. He was also the back-up man on kickoffs.

"So I was used to swinging my leg,'' he said, "and I had decent hands from playing baseball.

"I hit the ball pretty good but the thing was I was quick. I was a two-step punter when everybody else was three-step.''

It would make a tidy story if from that very moment Colquitt was on his way to setting records at Tennessee, winning Super Bowl rings with the Pittsburgh Steelers, fathering future Vol punters and ultimately, his induction Thursday in the Greater Knoxville Sports Hall of Fame.

But it wasn't exactly that direct. When Colquitt graduated from South in 1972, Neyland Stadium across the river still seemed an impossible dream.

Colquitt had offers to play running back at Wofford in South Carolina and Lees-McRae in North Carolina.

"Wofford was all males and that didn't work,'' Colquitt said. "When my parents and I went up to Lees-McRae it was all fog and cold.

"So I graduated from high school and didn't do anything for two years.''

What he did was work in the china department at Miller's department store downtown.

One day his boss showed him a newspaper that said UT was holding tryouts for punters. Colquitt, not entirely enthralled with a career in a department store, wrote a letter to George Cafego, Tennessee's legendary kicking coach.

In the spring of 1974, Colquitt enrolled and showed up for spring practice. By the 1975 season-opener, Colquitt, a sophomore, was UT's punter.

The Vols opened at home against Maryland, a night game. Both teams ranked. In short, a big deal.

"My first college punt, backed up at the back of the end zone,'' he said. "I fumbled that sucker, a guy came off my right side and the only thing I could think of was to fall down on it for a safety.

"I thought I was going to get crucified when I came to the sideline but coach Cafego's first words were, 'Good job.' ''

Those two words would be repeated many times over to Colquitt during the next three seasons. He rewrote the school record book, averaging 42.5 yards per punt over his career.

As a senior in 1977, he averaged 44.7 yards, second in the nation.

Afterward, Chuck Noll, coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers, came to town to personally work out Colquitt, then drafted him in the third round.

He showed up in camp with four other contenders for the job but beat them all.

Colquitt led the AFC in 1978 and ended the season in a Super Bowl victory over Dallas.

In 1979, the Steelers won another Super Bowl.

"The Super Bowl rings are great,'' Colquitt said. "I use 'em in sales and speaking, but it's the memories of the community that mean the most.

"I was just a country hick, but they loved their Steelers. It was a joy to be in the game but to go out in the community, I was treated like royalty.''

Colquitt's career was interrupted when he missed the 1982 season after injuring his knee in a pick-up basketball game. He came back to punt two more years, then the Steelers cut him before the 1985 season.

He played a few games in 1987 for the Colts but it was time for Craig and wife Anne to raise a family in Knoxville.

By then, his nephew, Jimmy Colquitt, had broken Craig's records at UT, averaging 43.9 yards from 1981-84.

A generation later, Craig's sons started showing up at UT and dropping dad on down the list.

Dustin, bumped him to third place, averaging 42.567 from 2001-05.

Then Britton knocked pop down to fourth by averaging 42.569 from 2006-08.

Dustin has enjoyed four seasons punting with the Kansas City Chiefs. His coach there, Todd Haley, was a ballboy for the Steelers, the son of Dick Haley, Pittsburgh's director of player personnel who had a hand in drafting Craig Colquitt.

"They love Dustin in Kansas City,'' Craig said. "He's got two sons, a TV show and he's working with two charities.''

Britton signed with Denver as a free agent and will try to beat out incumbent Brett Kern.

"I can't sleep, I want for him to make it so bad,'' Craig said.

"I feel like I've handed down a business to my sons. Whether they take advantage of it is up to them.''

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Comments » 36

atomicvet62 writes:

The Colquitt's have been great kickers for Tennessee,I hope Michael Palardy can someday own all the kicking records at Tennessee

the10sevol writes:

if ever there were an argument for cloning...

a big orange nation thanks to the Colquitt family!

p.s. how are the grandkids coming along?

gohawks1 writes:

Congrats and thanks to all the Colquitts for wearing orange! Any more nephews or cousins out there?

stayingorange writes:

Great story. I had no idea he came into the program two years after high school. What a legacy he's left that was close to never starting. As a Wofford grad, that is also interesting to know. When I was there it had gone coed, but the ladies weren't much to talk about.

lt4vols writes:

Boy, did this article bring back some memories !!!! Craig, you'll always be the "model" punter for the Vols. What a family legacy. My best to the family.

bjrhodes01 writes:

It's been an honor to have been a teammate, coach, and (most importantly) friend of the Colquitt family.

teampenny#658108 writes:

Go article, I like hearing stories of former Vols. Go Vols

CynicalCitizen writes:

Why no mention of the family's drunken exploits while on "the Hill"? Seems most of the clan (allegedly) had newsworthy issues, if I recall correctly.

DownTheField writes:

Good timing on this article... welcome to Kicker U Michael.

TommyJack writes:

in response to long_vol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

jock itch

teampenny#658108 writes:

in response to CynicalCitizen:

Why no mention of the family's drunken exploits while on "the Hill"? Seems most of the clan (allegedly) had newsworthy issues, if I recall correctly.

What would be the point? Most young people at this age do do stupid I did, my kids did and most likely most others do to. Now I am talking drinking and fighting not robbing and selling drugs. Go Vols

dvols writes:

one of my favorite plays...the muffed punt! can be a game changer...

CynicalCitizen writes:

in response to teampenny#658108:

What would be the point? Most young people at this age do do stupid I did, my kids did and most likely most others do to. Now I am talking drinking and fighting not robbing and selling drugs. Go Vols

I suggest you look up the story regarding Mr. Colquitt. It's a little more serious than college shenanigans. If you check it out and don't agree it is serious enough to warrant mention, then feel free to scold me again. If I have to hear about the Houstons eating vienna sausage on their front porch in every article for a year, the KNS should put a reminder of everyone's actions in all articles regarding those individuals.

TommyJack writes:

in response to CynicalCitizen:

I suggest you look up the story regarding Mr. Colquitt. It's a little more serious than college shenanigans. If you check it out and don't agree it is serious enough to warrant mention, then feel free to scold me again. If I have to hear about the Houstons eating vienna sausage on their front porch in every article for a year, the KNS should put a reminder of everyone's actions in all articles regarding those individuals.

I will go with TeamPenny on this one. No need to drag up every skeleton in every family closet that is written about.

orangebloodgmc writes:

Looks like Craig and I were contemporaries at UT (but I don't know if we had any classes together).

And my own daughter is a best-allround kind of kid, but she is working thru consequences of a DUI right now. Live and learn.

Good luck, Britton!

CynicalCitizen writes:

in response to TommyJack:

I will go with TeamPenny on this one. No need to drag up every skeleton in every family closet that is written about.

I believe what he allegedly did should be mentioned every time that he is mentioned. He should never be able to walk away from it.

bluetick writes:

in response to CynicalCitizen:

I believe what he allegedly did should be mentioned every time that he is mentioned. He should never be able to walk away from it.

Most people tend to talk about and remember the GOOD things that people do instead of focusing on the negative side of things. Unless of course you were beaten as a child, get no @ss and just a total failure in life.

Too bad you were not in the spotlight Nationwide for something so we can pull up some dirt on you. Get a life dude.

GREAT STORY!

gohawks1 writes:

in response to TommyJack:

jock itch

Maybe a bad chornicle rash.

gohawks1 writes:

in response to CynicalCitizen:

I believe what he allegedly did should be mentioned every time that he is mentioned. He should never be able to walk away from it.

Never? Wow. Sounds very bitter to me. It will be really difficult to drag that kind of baggage around for the rest of your life. My condolences.

CynicalCitizen writes:

in response to bluetick:

Most people tend to talk about and remember the GOOD things that people do instead of focusing on the negative side of things. Unless of course you were beaten as a child, get no @ss and just a total failure in life.

Too bad you were not in the spotlight Nationwide for something so we can pull up some dirt on you. Get a life dude.

GREAT STORY!

I tend to think ruining a human being's life in a reckless fashion is worthy of remembering, be it positive or negative in your eyes.

CynicalCitizen writes:

in response to bluetick:

Most people tend to talk about and remember the GOOD things that people do instead of focusing on the negative side of things. Unless of course you were beaten as a child, get no @ss and just a total failure in life.

Too bad you were not in the spotlight Nationwide for something so we can pull up some dirt on you. Get a life dude.

GREAT STORY!

I suggest you get a life, Bluetick. On July 3 at 12:19 pm in an article regarding arrests at the University of Florida, you made an extremely negative comment in regards to Daniel Hood and his indiscretions in regards to relatives. Obviously you received a beating yesterday, or failed to get laid. I would bet that you are just an outright failure in life. Hello, Pot. Meet Mr. Kettle.

gohawks1 writes:

in response to CynicalCitizen:

I tend to think ruining a human being's life in a reckless fashion is worthy of remembering, be it positive or negative in your eyes.

Am I missing something? Whose life was ruined? You seem to indicate that another person was injured or killed. What's up with that?

kiffownsfla writes:

in response to dvols:

one of my favorite plays...the muffed punt! can be a game changer...

Ive punted a muff or two in my day. and lets here it for joey chessnut ate 67 hotdogs and buns a TRUE american ICON SHOULD HANG BANNERS OF HIM IN NEYLAND LOL!GO VOLS!

TommyJack writes:

in response to kiffownsfla:

Ive punted a muff or two in my day. and lets here it for joey chessnut ate 67 hotdogs and buns a TRUE american ICON SHOULD HANG BANNERS OF HIM IN NEYLAND LOL!GO VOLS!

Stay away from Joey for a day or two.

CynicalCitizen writes:

in response to gohawks1:

Am I missing something? Whose life was ruined? You seem to indicate that another person was injured or killed. What's up with that?

Allegedly during Craig Colquitt's playing days, he was in an incident of impaired or reckless driving when a young lady was rendered into some form of a comatose state. There are few details publicly available, but Vol fans during that time will mention the incident upon hear Craig Colquitt's name or upon any of the subsequent drunk driving issues with his children.

kiffownsfla writes:

in response to TommyJack:

Stay away from Joey for a day or two.

Lmao heard that they hada guy come out was in it from fla doin the gator chomp with his hands when he walked out he got his azz handed to him lmao! GO VOLS!

ALL_VOL75 writes:

in response to CynicalCitizen:

Allegedly during Craig Colquitt's playing days, he was in an incident of impaired or reckless driving when a young lady was rendered into some form of a comatose state. There are few details publicly available, but Vol fans during that time will mention the incident upon hear Craig Colquitt's name or upon any of the subsequent drunk driving issues with his children.

that's putting it very, VERY nicely...

CynicalCitizen writes:

To be fair, I should point out that Mr. Colquitt was acquitted of the drunken driving charges. October 2, 1980 news articles in Pittsburgh point out that a 0.12 on the Breathalyzer was registered on the scene. In the court's findings, the officer administering the test was not experienced enough with it. Apparently, the young lady suffered brain injuries. Some out-of-court monetary settlement was apparently made between Colquitt and the injured lady. The brakes of the car he was driving locked and they skidded into a tree on a winding road prompting the debate of whether it was impaired driving or something else. From the article, there was reference made to drinks before driving, then something about drinking from a whiskey bottle in the car after being shaken by the incident. I just hate to see some newsmakers having continuous references made to their misdeeds, while others have no mention made of incidents which were attributed to them. With Britton's subsequent troubles while on campus, it just seems fair to mention the family's history.

bluetick writes:

in response to CynicalCitizen:

I suggest you get a life, Bluetick. On July 3 at 12:19 pm in an article regarding arrests at the University of Florida, you made an extremely negative comment in regards to Daniel Hood and his indiscretions in regards to relatives. Obviously you received a beating yesterday, or failed to get laid. I would bet that you are just an outright failure in life. Hello, Pot. Meet Mr. Kettle.

It was obviously a JOKE you dill weed. ONCE AGAIN you are digging up the PAST trying to find flaws with anybody. MOVE ON ALREADY. Stop living in the past.

Don't you fell good about yourself now that you have shed some light on some negative phooey from the past in a story that is suppose to be a positive? Anybody and EVERYBODY has a past, even YOU Mr. Perfect.

chrisw2967 writes:

in response to CynicalCitizen:

I believe what he allegedly did should be mentioned every time that he is mentioned. He should never be able to walk away from it.

I take it you never did nothing wrong in your life time ? neither did your kids?
you must live one pathetic life.
maybe it should be mentioned how pathetic you are every time you post on here to remind you how shallow and pathetic you are.

teampenny#658108 writes:

in response to CynicalCitizen:

I suggest you look up the story regarding Mr. Colquitt. It's a little more serious than college shenanigans. If you check it out and don't agree it is serious enough to warrant mention, then feel free to scold me again. If I have to hear about the Houstons eating vienna sausage on their front porch in every article for a year, the KNS should put a reminder of everyone's actions in all articles regarding those individuals.

Was not aware of this after he left UT. Hate things like this occur all to often. Will not scold you-thx for setting me straight.

CynicalCitizen writes:

in response to chrisw2967:

I take it you never did nothing wrong in your life time ? neither did your kids?
you must live one pathetic life.
maybe it should be mentioned how pathetic you are every time you post on here to remind you how shallow and pathetic you are.

You're right. Thanks.

smyrnavol writes:

off topic. anybody hear steve mcnair was just found dead. anybody have any details on this?

kiffownsfla writes:

Sad day sports fans former titan steve macnair has died from a gun shot wound wsm nbc out of nashville reports.

kiffownsfla writes:

in response to smyrnavol:

off topic. anybody hear steve mcnair was just found dead. anybody have any details on this?

I wont say what i think but its not good 2nd ave down town nashville i dont know if it was last night or in broad daylight.

TrouserCough writes:

good article

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