Tom Hull (2015)

Playing in the shadow of a famous sibling is sometimes a daunting task, but in the case of former Uniontown athlete Tom Hull it was a big help in his career.

Chuck Muncie  

Hull was a star running back and linebacker at Uniontown High School in the late 1960’s. He also played a little basketball on some pretty good Red Raider teams and followed in the foot steps of his older brother John who starred for the Raiders from 1964 through 1966.
“I have great memories of my days at Uniontown,” Hull recalled. “The guys I played with, and I played with a lot, went on to play college ball.

“I remember my sophomore year we had a pretty exceptional team. We lost a game or two we shouldn’t have. It seemed like that happened every year.

“My sophomore year we had Brad McLee and Billy Emmett and the big defensive end Ray Fisher, Sal Mercadante and my junior year Rich Camilli, Dave Dvorchak and Hosea Craggette and guys like Rich Morris, John Fortugna, Jack Hess, A.J. Cunningham, Chuck Muncie, Dave Herring and Tom Holliday – we had some good players. I think a biggie for us was beating Mt. Lebanon our senior year.”
The Red Raiders posted a 8-2 mark in Hull’s sophomore season. Were 7-2 his junior year and finished 6-4 in his senior season.
“I can’t remember too much what I did offensively because I knew I wanted to play linebacker,” Hull offered. “I had an interception I returned 75 yards for a touchdown against Laurel Highlands my sophomore year – that got me started.

“That is a play I still remember because I caught like the tail end of the ball out in the flat and I got a nice block from Fisher or I wouldn’t have gone all the way.”

Hull was inserted in the lineup as a sophomore and got off to a bit of a slow start and that is where his brother John came into the picture.
“He was fantastic,” Hull gushed. “My sophomore year he was away at Iowa in his freshman season. The first few games I was struggling and he came back and saw me play and said “look what you’re doing look at the film.” I was looking in the backfield and the defensive end was getting into me. That next game John said ‘you beat the crap out of the guy over you and watch his head and it will tell you what he’s doing and where to go.’

“That next game my sophomore year we were playing Mt. Lebanon away and they had a top team and were trying to run at me because they had seen the films and it seemed to be the turning point when John came and gave me that tip – just beat the guy over you and you will find the ball.

“From that point on it just seemed to click and from what I was told I made Mt. Lebanon’s All-Opponent team.”

Hull was born to play linebacker.

“I guess from my sophomore year when I started – I knew I wanted to play linebacker,” Hull said. “Penn State was always big on my list coming off the seasons they had in 1967, 68 and 69. The back-to-back undefeated teams and “Linebacker U” was something I’d always dreamed about.”

Hull had a lot of respect for the Raiders’ football coaching staff.
“We had great assistants – Ralph Conrad, Chuck Zawacki and they were great – I loved those guys,” Hull explained. “I remember Conrad helped me out a lot. Coach Kaltenbach was hard nosed – he was old school and he worked your butt off.”

Hull played basketball at Uniontown and was part of teams that posted records of 16-7, 19-4 and 22-1. With two Section 7 titles.
“I was never a scorer, but I enjoyed playing defense and trying to get a few rebounds here and there,” Hull stated.

He played for legendary Red Raiders coach Abe Everhart.

“The things that we learned and Coach Everhart’s style of play were great,” Hull said. “We were always running and he worked us hard and you respected that.”

Hull remembers the disappointment of losing to Highlands in the WPIAL playoffs in 1969 and being upset by Ambridge in 1970 – after the Raiders had forged a 22-0 record.

“Highlands had a big kid who played tight end that hurt us,” Hull recalled. “Getting there in 1970 and not being able to finish up and go further into the playoffs – that was a downer.”

Hull enjoyed basketball and his teammates.

“I just liked to play,” he offered. “

Like many other athletes from that era Hull has great memories of the Uniontown playground system.

“On different days you would walk around and go to each playground and compete against the other kids,” Hull said. “It got you into that competitive mode and that was great.

“I was disappointed when my kids were growing up we didn’t have anything like that. That was what you did and each kid had their own neighborhood and playground.

“I was fortunate we just had to walk right across the alley to get to Lincoln View. Ruby Laskey ran Lincoln View and she was tremendous – now I would liken her to the energizer bunny she was always on
the go.”

Hull garnered All County honors as a senior. He played for the West squad in the prestigious Big 33 game in Hershey, PA. The Pennsylvania East squad beat the West 15-0.

When Hull graduated in 1970 several colleges pursued him, but Penn State was at the top of his list.

“My brother wisely tutored me and said “do what you want to do and don’t worry about this coach or that coach, follow your heart and do what you have to do,” Hull stated.

“It was excellent advice. Penn State was “Linebacker U” and I wanted to play linebacker. I took some visits to Ohio State and Kentucky and I went down to Pitt with Jim Cunningham. But Penn State was a natural fit because I wasn’t a city guy.”

When he arrived at Penn State he played freshman ball and he did get to play with big brother John who had transferred to Penn State from Iowa.

“It was fun to play with him,” Hull explained. “Unfortunately I thought he should have played more at times than he did and he worked his tail off when I was a sophomore.”

Hull had his own ups and downs with playing time at Penn State.
“As a sophomore it was a little crazy – I was a 6-foot-3 205 pound middle linebacker my freshman year,” Hull recalled. “Going into the spring I had a knee injury right before the spring game, but I did manage to make it back, but they switched me from the middle to the outside and put me behind Charlie Zapiec and moved another fellow Gary Hager from the outside to the inside where I would have been playing and he was behind Doug Allen.

“The week before our opening game Allen received a severe concussion and didn’t play the whole year. So Hager ended up starting and I’m behind Zapiec and as time went on Hager was a little bit undersized and they moved me back to the middle, but I sprained my ankle and missed the West Virginia game. Finally I got in and played the last five or six games and beat Texas in the Cotton Bowl 30-6.”
In 1972 Hull inexplicably was placed on the second team.

“That year they experimented and moved me to defensive end and Jim Laslavic to the middle,” Hull said. “I didn’t like that idea and talked to Coach Paterno and they left me in the middle and then the first day of practice I walk in and I’ve got a second team jersey on my hook and I played second team my whole junior year.

“Of course my senior year I started and we were undefeated in 1973 with John Cappelletti winning the Heisman Trophy.”

Hull was on three straight bowl teams with the Nittany Lions. As a sophomore PSU went 11-1 with a Cotton Bowl win over Texas. His junior year they were 10-2 and lost to Oklahoma 14-0 in the Sugar Bowl. In Hull’s senior season the Lions were 12-0 and defeated LSU 16-9 in the Orange Bowl.

“I enjoyed my time at Penn State,” Hull opined. “When you look at the Bowl games we went to I was fortunate. It was on a personal level at Penn State – if you had a problem and you walked into the Athletic Office at Penn State you could go right in to see Coach Paterno.
“Talking with guys on the other teams they said you had to make an appointment to see the coach in advance. I think I would rather have played for Coach Paterno than anyone else.”

Hull was selected in the 12th round of the 1974 NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers. He spent two years in the pros with the 49ers and the Green Bay Packers.

“The pro experience was unbelievable,” Hull offered. “It was a dream come true. I was fortunate to get drafted as a late round pick and I was fortunate enough to make the team.

“I got released out in Frisco and picked up by Green Bay and it seemed like the same thing happened.

“They drafted someone second or third round and then I didn’t have much of an opportunity to make the team. I went to Canada and I didn’t like that and in 1978 I signed with Buffalo and I didn’t feel comfortable with some of the weight I lost and got released and I said, that’s it, I have a young family and I’ve got to get a job.”
After football Hull entered the business world.

“I started working in business and industry,” Hull said. “I was a graphic design major, but I couldn’t afford to go to work in that field in a starting position and I went into business and worked in different industries in Ohio and in 1989 moved back in to Pennsylvania and in the early 1990’s moved into the Peters Township area. I’m currently working for Joy Global Inc. in Houston, PA.

Hull,62, is married to his second wife Donna. He has three children from his first marriage: Eric, Alison and Tara. He has three children in his second marriage, two sons Joe and Mike, who just finished a great career as a linebacker at Penn State, and a daughter Ashley.
Hull occasionally gets back to Uniontown and still remembers his hometown fondly.

“You always want to get back the same feeling you had in high school,” Hull stated. “But it never comes back and that’s what you’ve got the memories for.”


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