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Punt patriarch, Ads’ ex-skipper to enter Hall
Colquitts trying to be ‘Mannings’ of NFL punting

The Colquitt family pose for this 2004 picture with Craig Colquitt standing alongside wife, Anne. Brothers Britton Colquitt, left, and Dustin Colquitt were Tennessee Volunteers teammates.- File photo
Bearden's Colquitt family, led by patriarch and Greater Knoxville Sports Hall of Fame upcoming inductee Craig Colquitt, is trying to become the “Manning family” of National Football League punting.

In reference to NFL standout quarterbacks Archie Manning and sons, Peyton and Eli, “Obviously they make a little more money than us,” said Dustin Colquitt, Craig's oldest son and former Bearden Bulldogs standout punting for the Kansas City Chiefs.

“They're the family of the first three downs. We're the family of fourth down. They get more plays than us, obviously.”

Craig Colquitt, All-American Tennessee Volunteers punter who earned two Super Bowl rings as a Pittsburgh Steeler (1978, ’79), is among the Greater Knoxville Hall's 2009 class to be inducted beginning at 7:30 p.m., tonight, Thursday, July 9, in Knoxville Convention Center.

He averaged 41.3 yards per punt in seven NFL seasons, six with Pittsburgh (1978-81, 83-84).

Younger son and ex-BHS standout, Britton Colquitt, is trying to complete the “Manning comparison” by becoming the third Colquitt to punt in the NFL.

Yet another UT All-American punter as his father and older brother, Britton signed a free agent contract with Denver — an AFC West Division rival to Dustin's Chiefs. “We’ve never competed against each other,” Britton said.

About the Manning comparison, Dustin, a 6-foot-3, 210-pound four-year NFL veteran, said, “It's something unique; it's something I talked to Peyton about a few years back. Obviously, we think God's blessed us with the punting side of football.”

About his father’s Hall of Fame induction, Britton said, “That's just an incredible honor. ... Dad, he definitely earned it, and he's a great man and was a great athlete. Just done a lot of great things for Knoxville and Tennessee and for the Vols.”

Craig and Britton have other things in common. “He's the exact same age I was when I went into the N-F-L (24),” Craig said. “I was two years out of high school before I walked on to Tennessee.

“I walked away from a terrible environment in South Knoxville,” Craig added about his teenage years. “I've got three friends that are dead from just self-abuse. So I saw the writing on the wall: 'this is not working, I've got to go do something else.’

“[George] Cafego [then UT special teams coach] had an an article in the paper asking if anybody thinks they can punt, ‘come on down, we're giving tryouts.’

“So I wrote them a letter and they responded back, and the rest was history.”

A 1972 graduate of South High School, “I could see college wasn't in the loop, my parents couldn't afford it, and I didn't have the scholastic background to do it, I didn't have the grades to get in at Tennessee,” Craig said. "I did spend one quarter at Cleveland State Community College.”

Craig and Dustin, 27, share an NFL distinction. “My dad was a third-round pick, I was a third-round pick,” said Dustin, who despite a “sports hernia” he labeled as “horrible” still averaged 44.4 yards per punt in ’08 and earned Pro Bowl alternate.

Another coincidence involving the Colquitts has to do with coaching. “Dustin's new head coach [Todd Haley] was my ballboy with the Pittsburgh Steelers,” Craig said. “His father was the scout that drafted me.”

Still another Colquitt coincidence also involves coaching: Dustin's special teams coach the previous three seasons, Mike Priefer, is now Britton's special teams coach in Denver.

"Priefer already knew Britton, he had met him a couple of games,” Craig added. “They'd actually become pretty close friends. It's a great dynamic. Priefer's texting Dustin of Britton's progress, and said he's really working hard.”

Britton, a 6-foot-2, 225-pound rookie, added about Priefer, “It could be a blessing in the long run just because Dustin learned so much from coach Priefer.”

Craig said if Britton makes the team, “It's a dream come true. Get to watch ’em play each twice a year. The outcome of it truly being a family business. Laughing at it in the beginning, now it's starting to look like it.

“There’s lot of pressure on him, but he's performing up there.”

About his sons being in the same division, AFC West, “You couldn't write a better script,” Craig said. “If [Britton] makes the team, they play Dec. 16 in Denver and Jan. 3 in Kansas City.”

Despite missing the first five UT games in 2008 due to suspension (alcohol-related), Britton still averaged 43.4 yards per punt last season as a senior.

Signing with Denver shortly after the 2009 NFL Draft, Britton first worked out with other Broncos rookies in mid-May, followed by two weekend “mini-camps” into early June.

“I feel real confident that he's matured and realizes the opportunity here,” Craig said.


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