George Hoey

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George Hoey
DB/KR/PR
Personal information
Date of birth: (1946-11-14) November 14, 1946 (age 67)
Career information
College: Michigan
NFL Draft: 1969 / Round: 14 / Pick: 346
Debuted in 1971
Last played in 1975
Career history
St. Louis Cardinals (1971)
New England Patriots (1972-1973)
San Diego Chargers (1974)
Denver Broncos (1975)
New York Jets (1975)
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Kickoff Return Yards 534
Average 25.4
Touchdowns 1
Stats at DatabaseFootball.com

George William Hoey (born November 14, 1946) is a former American football defensive back, punt returner and kickoff returner. He played college football for the University of Michigan Wolverines (1966–1968) and professionally in the National Football League (NFL) for the Arizona Cardinals (1971), New England Patriots (1972–1973), San Diego Chargers (1974), Denver Broncos (1975), and New York Jets (1975).

In high school, Hoey was an All-State halfback. At the University of Michigan, College Football Hall of Fame halfback Ron Johnson was in Hoey's class, and Hoey was therefore used principally as a defensive back. Hoey is most remembered for his work as a punt returner at Michigan. He led the Big Ten Conference in punt return yards in 1967 and 1968, and still holds Michigan's modern era (post-1949) records for most punt return yards in a game (140), most return yards per punt in a season (24.3) and most return yards per punt in a career (17.1). Hoey was also a record-setting sprinter on Michigan's track and field team.

In five seasons in the NFL, Hoey was principally a kickoff returner. In 1971, he set a St. Louis Cardinals club record with six kickoff returns for 206 yards, including one for 103 yards and a touchdown. He had 534 kickoff return yards in his career.

Since 1993, Hoey has worked in administration at the University of Colorado. He worked first in academic services for the athletic department. After controversies in the late 1990s concerning eligibility of University of Colorado athletes, Hoey accepted a position in the school's career services department providing career counseling to student athletes.

High school athlete at Flint Central[edit]

George Hoey, Saginaw Valley scoring champion, 1963-1964

Hoey was born in Gaffney, South Carolina. He moved with his family from South Carolina to Flint, Michigan at age 13.[1] At Flint Central High School, he excelled in both football and track. When No. 1 ranked Flint Central met No. 2 ranked Bay City Central in 1963, it was billed as the "Game of the Year." Flint Central won the game 25–18, as Hoey (then only a junior) scored three touchdowns, including a 63-yard punt return for a touchdown, and a pass interception that Hoey ran back 35 yards for a touchdown on the final play of the game.[2] As a senior in 1964, Hoey was named an All-State halfback by The Detroit News and UPI.[1][3] In naming him to its All-State team, the UPI noted: "Hoey, a 5-foot-10, 165-pounder, gained 502 yards in 64 carries and caught 17 passes. He scored 11 touchdowns to lead the Saginaw Valley Conference for the second straight year. A great broken-field runner, he has scored eight touchdowns on kickoff or punt returns during his two-year stint with the varsity."[3] He also led the Saginaw Valley Conference in scoring for two seasons.[4] On his high school track team, Hoey won the 60-yard dash at the Central Michigan Relays Invitational indoor meet with a time of 6.3 seconds. He was All-State in track at the 1965 Michigan High School Athletic Association Class A track meet.[1]

University of Michigan track and football star[edit]

In 1965, Hoey became the first African-American athlete from Flint to earn a University of Michigan scholarship.[4] At Michigan, Hoey excelled in both football and track. In track, Hoey set a 60-yard dash record with a time of 6.1 in 1966.[1] He was a member of the Wolverines' record-setting 4 x 100 metres relay with a time of 40.6.[1] In football, Hoey did not make the team as a halfback, having the misfortune to be in the same class as College Football Hall of Famer Ron Johnson. He started only three games at halfback during his time at Michigan (and one at fullback).[5][6] With Ron Johnson playing halfback, Hoey was used principally as a defensive back and punt returner. Playing against Navy in 1968, Hoey had two interceptions which he returned for 31 yards, and punt returns of 63 and 36 yards.[7][8] He was named an All-Big Ten defensive back in 1968.[1]

Punt return records at Michigan[edit]

Though he was also an All-Big Ten defensive back, Hoey is most remembered as one of the leading punt returners in Michigan history. He led the Big Ten in punt return yards in 1967 and 1968,[4] and holds several Michigan school records for punt returns, including most return yards in a game and most yards per return in a season and a career.

Most yards in a game[edit]

On October 28, 1967, Hoey gained 140 yards on four punt returns against Minnesota -- still Michigan's single-game record for punt return yardage. Hoey and Steve Breaston are the only two Michigan players with two games in the top ten single-game performances by a Michigan punt returner.[9]

Nane Number Yards Average Touchdowns Long Year Opponent
George Hoey 4 140 35 0 1967 Minnesota
Tripp Welborne 5 117 23.4 0 60 1990 Indiana
Steve Breaston 9 116 12.9 0 29 2006 Wisconsin
Marquise Walker[10] 7 112 16 0 42 2001 Purdue
Steve Breaston 4 112 28 1 67 2004 Northwestern
Derrick Alexander 4 108 27 1 80 1992 Michigan State
Julius Curry 8 105 13.1 0 19 2002 Utah
Steve Breaston 4 105 26.3 0 55 2003 Notre Dame
George Hoey 2 99 49.5 0 63 1968 Navy
Evan Cooper 6 99 16.5 0 31 1983 Minnesota

Most yards per return in a season[edit]

Hoey also holds the modern (post-1949) Michigan school record for yards per return in a season.[9] His 1967 average of 24.3 yards/return exceeds any other modern Michigan punt returner by more than eight yards per return (minimum 1.2 return per team game played).[9] Hoey's 1967 average ranks sixth in NCAA Division I-A history behind the all-time Michigan leader Gene Derricotte who ranks fifth.[11] However, the Michigan record books base single-season leadership based upon minimum 15 returns per game and Hoey's name is omitted.[12]

Nane Number Yards Average Touchdowns Long Year
George Hoey 12 291 24.3 1 60 1967
Barry Pierson 19 300 15.8 1 60 1969
Terry Barr 14 219 15.6 1 82 1955
Anthony Carter 18 270 15 1 72 1982
Tripp Welborne 31 455 14.7 0 60 1990


N.B.:The database used here includes stats since 1949.[9] Totals before 1949 are not included here; for example, Gene Derricotte averaged over 24 yards per return prior to 1949.

Most yards per return in a career[edit]

Hoey also holds the Michigan school record for punt return yards per return in a career with an average of 17.1 yards per return.[9]

Nane Number Yards Average Touchdowns Long Start End
George Hoey[13] 31 529 17.1 1 63 1967 1968
Terry Barr 24 393 16.4 1 82 1954 1956
Barry Pierson 20 300 15 1 60 1968 1969
Desmond Howard 26 337 13 1 93 1990 1991
Derrick Alexander 42 534 12.7 4 80 1992 1993

NFL football player[edit]

Hoey was selected by the Detroit Lions in the 14th round of the 1969 NFL Draft.[14] He played five seasons in the NFL for the St. Louis Cardinals (1971), New England Patriots (1972–1973), San Diego Chargers (1974), Denver Broncos (1975) and New York Jets (1975).[15] Hoey played in 53 NFL games and had four punt returns for 38 return yards, 21 kickoff returns for 534 return yards, and two interceptions for 45 return yards. He set a Cardinals club record with six kickoff returns for 206 yards, one for 103 yards and a touchdown against the Philadelphia Eagles.[1] The club record for longest return was broken in 1979 by Roy Green, who posted a 106-yard return.[16] Hoey had the misfortune of playing with losing teams throughout his NFL career. The best team that he played for was the 1975 Denver Broncos, who recorded a 6–8 record.[17]

Professional career at the University of Colorado[edit]

For many years, Hoey has worked in various capacities at the University of Colorado. From 1993–1999, Hoey was involved in academic services in Colorado's athletic department. Hoey "came under fire for repeated eligibility problems of prospective CU athletes,"[18] including linebacker Anwawn Jones who lost a year of eligibility and was forced to sit out the 1999 NCAA Division I-A football season due to an error in calculating his transfer credits. In 1999, Hoey transferred out of the athletic department and began working in the university's career services department. That October, Jones told The Denver Post that Hoey "wasn't necessarily a scapegoat, but there were definitely mistakes made in his department."[18] The eligibility issues arose after Rick Neuheisel departed as Colorado's head football coach and were part of broader problems that resulted in the school's being placed on two years' probation for 53 rules violations, 51 occurring while Neuheisel was the Colorado coach.[19]

In 2004, the Colorado Daily reported that Hoey was a career counselor working with student athletes to help them prepare for their future careers. Hoey noted: "Student-athletes are consumed with stuff when they first enter college. I plant seeds that will hopefully lead them towards our department and many resources."[20] In May 2007, Hoey was the University of Colorado's career development coordinator and a co-chair of the Black Faculty/Staff Association,[21] and the Virginia Patterson Chapter of Mortar Board Honors Society at the University of Colorado honored Hoey for his efforts to educate students.[22]

Family and honors[edit]

Herb Washington, former Oakland A and world-class sprinter, is Hoey's cousin.[23] Hoey has two sons, William and Sean.[1] He was inducted into the Greater Flint Afro-American Hall of Fame in 2001,[1] and he was inducted into the Greater Flint Area Sports Hall of Fame in 2003.[4]

Career statistics[edit]

Year Team KR Yards Avg TDs PR Yards Avg TD Int. Yards Average
1967 Michigan Wolverines -- -- -- -- 12 291 24.3 1 -- -- --
1968 Michigan Wolverines 12 221 18.4 -- 19 238 12.5 0 2 31 15.5
Career 12 221 18.4 -- 31 529 17.1 1 2 31 15.5
1971 St. Louis Cardinals 9 251 27.9 1 -- -- -- -- -- -- 0
1972 New England Patriots 9 210 23.3 0 -- -- -- -- 1 25 25
1973 New England Patriots -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 0
1974 San Diego Chargers 3 73 24.3 0 4 38 9.5 -- 1 20 20
1975 New York Jets -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
1975 Denver Broncos -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
TOTAL 21 534 25.4 1 4 38 9.5 0 2 45 --

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i "George Hoey". Flint Public Library. 2005-10-25. Retrieved 2007-12-05. 
  2. ^ "Flint Central Wins, 25–19 Over Bay City". The Holland, Michigan Evening Sentinel. 1963-10-26. 
  3. ^ a b UPI wire service report (1964-11-20). "Grand Haven Fullback Named on A All-State". The Holland Evening Sentinel. 
  4. ^ a b c d "George Hoey". Greater Flint Area Sports Hall of Fame. Retrieved 2007-12-05. [dead link]
  5. ^ "1967 Football Team". The Regents of the University of Michigan. 2007-03-31. Retrieved 2007-12-05. 
  6. ^ "1968 Football Team". The Regents of the University of Michigan. 2007-03-31. Retrieved 2007-12-05. 
  7. ^ "Versus Navy October 5, 1968". Regents of the University of Michigan. 2003. 
  8. ^ Sidman, Robert E. (1968-10-07). "Hoey Sets Up Three Scores As Michigan Downs Navy". Ironwood Daily Globe. 
  9. ^ a b c d e "Michigan Football Statistic Archive Query Page". Regents of the University of Michigan. 2003. Retrieved 2007-12-05. 
  10. ^ The Michigan football record book credits Walker with 127 yards, while the online public statistical database credits him with 112 yards. It is unclear if there is a discrepant 15-yard penalty such as a major facemask or other inconsistency. See "Record Book (through 2006)" (PDF). University of Michigan & Host Interactive. 2007. Archived from the original on February 29, 2008. Retrieved 2008-02-04. 
  11. ^ "Official 2007 NCAA Division I Football Record Book". National Collegiate Athletic Association. August 2007. Archived from the original on 2007-12-01. Retrieved 2008-01-03. 
  12. ^ "Record Book (through 2006)" (PDF). University of Michigan & Host Interactive. 2007. Archived from the original on 2008-02-29. Retrieved 2008-02-04. 
  13. ^ The Michigan football record book credits Hoey with 17.3 yards per return, while the online public statistical database credits him with 17.1 yards. It is unclear if there is a discrepant 5-yard penalty such as a minor facemask or other inconsistency. See "Record Book (through 2006)" (PDF). University of Michigan & Host Interactive. 2007. Archived from the original on 2008-02-29. Retrieved 2008-02-04. 
  14. ^ "1969 NFL Player Draft". databaseFootball.com. databaseSports.com. Retrieved 2007-12-03. 
  15. ^ "George Hoey". databaseFootball.com. databaseSports.com. Retrieved 2007-12-05. 
  16. ^ "Individual Records: Kickoff Returns". Record & Factbook. NFL Enterprises LLC. Retrieved 2007-12-05. 
  17. ^ "1975 Denver Broncos". databaseFootball.com. databaseSports.com. Retrieved 2008-02-05. 
  18. ^ a b Thompson, Adam (1999-10-14). "Morning Academic counselor Hoey leaves athletic department; Eligibility issues mired his watch". The Denver Post. 
  19. ^ Steve Wilstein - NCAA almost gets Colorado/Neuheisel affair right. Newspaper Network of Central Ohio, October 10, 2002.
  20. ^ Watkins, Kate (2004-07-07). "Life skills learned by student-athletes". Colorado Daily. 
  21. ^ Besen, Linda (2007-01-23). "New Leaders Have High Hopes for Black Faculty/Staff Association". The Regents of the University of Colorado. Retrieved 2007-12-05. 
  22. ^ Platte, Jennifer (2007-05-06). "Honors". Daily Camera. 
  23. ^ "George Hoey - #49 - DB - Michigan - Profile". New York Jets. Archived from the original on June 12, 2008. Retrieved 2007-12-04.