Tennessee


Paul Naumoff Volunteers
(Authentic Reproduction)

 

 

 

Like prime real estate or a successful retail business, the success and ascension of Paul Naumoff's career at the University Of Tennessee might be summed up with the statement "Location, location, location." Moving through a number of positions, he handled all with skill and ability but finally found his niche after settling in at middle linebacker. The Eastmoor High School product out of Columbus, Ohio escaped the clutches of Woody Hayes and Ohio State perhaps because Hayes did not see the potential in the 6'1", 190 pound two-way end. Originally recruited to Tennessee by Single Wing coach Bowden Wyatt, "Butch" Naumoff began well as a talented receiver who stepped in immediately as a sophomore to soup-up new head coach Doug Dickey's anemic offense. It was as a receiver against Auburn that life on the defensive side of the ball took on more appeal. Colorful Vols quarterback Dewey Warren takes "credit" for throwing a ball that soph end Naumoff went up for and as Warren stated, " Its funny, Naumoff started out at Tennessee as a wide receiver. Then I sent him on a post route against Auburn and the safety almost decapitated him. He came over to Dickey and said, I want to play defense.
 
Naumoff played terrific defense! Starting as a junior at defensive end in 1965, the 205-pound Naumoff helped to  solidify the unit, joining All American linebacker Frank Emanuel and potential All American Tom Fisher as the proverbial immovable objects. In 1966 Naumoff was moved to middle linebacker, replacing both Emanuel who had gone to the expansion Miami Dolphins as their number-one draft choice, and Fisher who had been killed in an off-season auto accident. Naumoff rose to the occasion as the team captain and became a consensus First Team All American, joining college and pro greats George Webster and Jim Lynch on that All American squad, garnered Team MVP, All SEC and a reputation as one of the hardest hitters in the nation despite weighing only 215 pounds. Against Syracuse in the Gator Bowl following his great senior season, Syracuse was nearing the goal line late in the fourth quarter when the ball was handed to Larry Csonka, who on the verge of breaking into the Vounteer end zone, met head-to-head with Naumoff and was stopped dead in his tracks by a tackle described as "It was like a bull hitting a wall. I'm sure they heard that lick all the way back to Tennessee."
 
The number-three draft choice of the Detroit Lions, Naumoff used his unusual speed and good strength to play the weakside linebacker position as an immediate regular, and then switched and remained over the tight end as the Lions' strong side 'backer the remainder of his career, one that spanned 1967 through 1978. Playing with Lion linebackers Mike Lucci and Wayne Walker, Naumoff helped to form one of the all-time best Detroit linebacking groups. Named to the 1970 Pro Bowl, it was felt by many experts that Naumoff should have been named to quite a few more and earned All Pro recognition. In 1975 he was voted the Lions Defensive MVP in a season highlighted by a twenty-one tackle game against the Browns. The tough and reliable Naumoff missed only two games in his entire twelve season career and was recently announced to the official ballot of the 2007 class to the College Football Hall Of Fame, another honor richly deserved.

If interested in any of these Miami helmets please click on the photos below.