ention the name Anfernee Hardaway or DeAngelo Williams, and you know what happens: memories so vivid they could have happened yesterday start flowing in by the sackful. But these three University of Memphis athletes whose names might not as readily ding that mental bell deserve legendary status, too. They were heroes, if for even one day. THE GLASS SLIPPER Rico Ball remembers each night telling his young son a bedtime story so unbelievable that it could almost qualify for fairy-tale status about an often-vilified quarterback who rose up on one leg to smack down a mighty Goliath — when ne’er a soul on Earth thought it could happen. “My son liked to hear that story over and over again — that was his bedtime story the first four years of his life,” says Ball. “When he turned 5, he was like, ‘Hey dad I think I have heard it enough!’” Now who exactly is Rico Ball? He was one of the few quarterbacks at the collegiate level to outduel Peyton Manning on the playing field. His connection to Memphis? Ball, now W W W. M E M P H I S . E D U
Rico Ball was known by another name while playing for the Tigers, but he left an indelible mark on the program.
an actor who splits time between Atlanta and Hollywood, was better known in his playing days as Qadry Anderson, the Tiger quarterback who led Memphis to the wildly stunning 21-17 win over sixth-ranked Tennessee on a cool November night in 1996 at Liberty Bowl Stadium. Oddsmakers gave the 3-6 Tigers virtually no chance; they entered the game as 28-point underdogs. The Vols, meanwhile, still had national title aspirations and had thumped Memphis in all 15 previous meetings. Memphis’ defense played the starring role the entire game, bewildering Manning with a number of different looks. Then there was the crazy Kevin Cobb kickoff return for a touchdown that was the ESPN College Football Play of the Year. But the Tigers still trailed 17-14 with about six minutes left in the final quarter, the ball on their own 30 and the offense only mustering 83 yards up to that point. But up stepped Anderson, gimpy ankle and all. “I thought I had broken my ankle early in the final drive,” recalls Anderson. “I dropped back to pass, I slipped, the tackler came in and caught me in an awkward position, and I rolled over my ankle and I heard something pop. It was one of the scariest feelings I ever had on a football field. When I jumped up, I actually thought my ankle was broke so I went toward the sidelines. I took two steps toward the sideline, but I said to myself, ‘No way, no way. We are about to score.’ “Coach (Rip) Scherer sent in the next play, and I put Chancy Carr in motion and once he broke past the defender, I was able to limp back, and I looked the safety off. Carr got behind the secondary, and I released it. It was right on the money, and he caught it for 41 yards down to the Tennessee 16. “I remember at that very moment, coming into the huddle and remember the belief in everyone’s eyes. I told them, ‘Look guys, we are going to score here. We are going to win it.’ There was no doubt in my mind.” After a 13-yard scamper up the middle by fullback Jeremy Scruggs, the ball rested at the 3-yard line with 34 seconds to play.
FA L L 2 014
University of Memphis Fall Magazine