Bower: Guy 'best athlete I've ever been around'
by Jason Munz, Hattiesburg American
February 04, 2014 10:00 AM | 1073 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
HATTIESBURG, Miss. (AP) — Having grown up less than 150 miles from Thomson, Ga., Jeff Bower was very aware of Ray Guy, well before they became teammates at Southern Miss.

Bower, the former Golden Eagle quarterback and longtime head coach, was a green freshman quarterback at Southern Miss and Guy was a seasoned senior safety/punter in 1972.

Some of the things Bower witnessed that year, he was already cognizant of, as word of Guy's athletic prowess began to spread throughout Georgia in the mid-to-late 1960s.

"I don't think people understand how great of a natural athlete he was, and probably still is, I should say," Bower said of Guy, who became the first pure punter elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday.

"In high school, he was First Team All-State in football, basketball and baseball.

"And a heck of a golfer."

Considered by most to be the best punter in the history of the sport, Guy was also drafted three different times by Major League Baseball teams. The Houston Astros picked him in the third round of the 1971 draft. The Atlanta Braves drafted him in the 17th round the next year, and the Cincinnati Reds chose Guy in the third round of the 1973 draft.

Guy was also a standout safety in high school and at Southern Miss.

"You could let him play Ping-Pong, bowling, you name it," Bower said. "Just a phenomenal athlete. Just a natural. He's the best athlete I've ever been around in my life.

"I'm going to tell you what, if he'd have not punted, and he'd have played safety (in the NFL), he would've gone into the Hall of Fame. He was that good."

Aside from being the first punter ever elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Guy is also the first former Southern Miss player to earn entry into the elite club.

Southern Miss athletic director Bill McGillis said the significance of Guy's election goes beyond what it means to him.

"I've had enough conversations with him to realize what this means to Ray Guy and his family," McGillis said. "And I know there are a lot of people in football, a lot of men in the Hall of Fame, a lot of men he's played with and for who are going to be celebrating (his election)."

Bower: "It's great for our university. It brings a lot of credibility to what this program's done over the years. We deserve more. Thank goodness for guys like him and guys like Brett (Favre), who's our next one."

Guy's repeated failed candidacies have been well publicized over the years. This year marked the eighth time Guy appeared on the ballot as a finalist after a 14-year NFL career where he was a member of three Super Bowl-winning teams.

"It's been a long time, a lot of frustration," Guy said Saturday after his election. "This is going to give the younger generation hope now. (Punting) is more recognized as a very important part of the game."

Southern Miss punter Matthew Moseley said he's never actually met Guy, but feels a special connection to the Golden Eagle legend.

"It's awesome to finally see a punter get elected into the Hall of Fame, especially seeing that he is a Southern Miss alum," he said. "It's cool to be able to say that you punt at the same school he did. He changed the way people look at punters."


Information from: The Hattiesburg American,

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