Class of 2015
Playing in an era where it was common for linemen to be the size of today’s running backs, Billy Don Anderson played much bigger than his small-stature indicated.
Anderson, a former Athens High School and UNA football player, joins a pair of teammates already in the Hall of Fame. J.C. Arban and David Martin. Both played with Anderson at Athens from 1950-53. The trio helped set the standard for Athens football under
legendary coach Ferman Elmore in the 1950s.
“We had a good coach in Ferman Elmore. We were a small school in those days, not like it is today,” said Anderson. “We probably had 30 ball players to chose from playing in the Tennessee Valley Conference. We had some really good athletes during that time.”
Anderson was part of the first Athens football team to beat Decatur in 1952. That team would go on to tie No. 1-ranked Butler. The 1952 team lost just once — the final game of the season against Tuscumbia.
With Anderson at guard, Martin at tackle and Arban carrying the ball, Athens was a forced to be reckoned with.
“He was small, but he was tough,” said Martin. “You never heard him doing a lot of bragging. He got the job done.”
Anderson served in the Navy for five years after graduating from Athens. He then decided to walk on at Florence State College (UNA)
where he was a three-year starter at guard from 1959-61.
“If it hadn’t been for David, I probably wouldn’t have come there,” said Anderson. “He and Carrel Daniel talked me into walking on. I remember the coach handed me a pair of cleats and said, ‘Get in shape and come back in the fall.’”
During his first season in 1959, Anderson was reunited with Martin, who was finishing his playing career with UNA. At 5-10, 185 pounds, Anderson more than held his own playing college football. “He played bigger than he was,” remembered Martin. “Back in those days, you played both ways. We all played both ways.”
Anderson was selected the team’s Most Valuable Lineman in 1960 and named to the All-Alabama Collegiate Conference Team in 1960-61. He was selected to the Lions’ All Decade team for 1959-1968 and is a member of the UNA Athletic Hall of Fame.
“I was fortunate at UNA because they were running the Wing-T that required light guards,” said Anderson. “You had to pull and get in front of the ball carrier. It required quickness and not a big heavy lineman in that system.”
Anderson lives in the Shoals area where he served on the UNA board of trustees for 33 years before retiring in 2008.