A trio of National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics All-Americans and two gifted three-year lettermen have been selected for induction into the Arkansas AM&N/UAPB Letter “A” Club Sports Hall of Fame. Track and Field All-Americans Curley Roberts, Walter Smith, Maurice Myton, three-year football lettermen Connie Hathorn and Elton Taylor comprise the Hall of Fame Class of 2017.
Roberts, a native of Pine Bluff who also was a running back for the Golden Lions’ football team in the mid-1960s, excelled in track and field throughout his collegiate years. Roberts’ track career included being a member of the 400-meter relay team that was touted as having the nation’s fourth fastest time in 1966.
Smith and Myton, arguably two of the most prolific 400-meter sprinters in Golden Lion history, clocked impressive times in the event. They are two of only six UAPB quartermilers to run sub-46 second timings in the 400-meter dash. The track duo recorded identical 45.9 readings in the event while earning NAIA All-American honors four seasons between 1967 and 1971.
“They were just natural competitors on the track,” said retired AM&N/UAPB track and field coach U.S. Grant, who was inducted in the school’s Class of 2000 Hall of Fame. “Walter came to AM&N/UAPB as a quarterback out of Louisville (Kentucky) and decided to try track after only one football season. Maurice came to us from Kingston, Jamaica, and was probably one of the hardest workers that I coached.”
As a freshman in 1967, Smith was a part of the Lions’ 4X400-meter relay unit that established a national record with a 3:05.5 timing at the NAIA National Track and Field Outdoor Championships in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Despite not operating out of a pass-oriented offense in 1972, Hathorn put together some impressive numbers in his only season as a starting quarterback. The 6-1, 210-pound signal-caller finished his senior year by completing 113 of 190 passes for 1,098 yards and 17 touchdowns in only eight games as the Lions compiled a 4-3-1 record.
He produced a 59.5 pass completion percentage rate which ranks as the second best among quarterbacks in school’s history for a single season. Hathorn, recruited by every Southwestern Athletic Conference school during his senior year at Camile Street High School in Louisville, Mississippi, had a stellar performance in the Lions’ mid-season 40-34 road win over Kentucky State University.
In the KSU game, Hathorn completed 21 of 33 passes for 289 yards and three touchdowns – all to his favorite target – Wallace Francis, a cat-quick senior flanker who drew rave reviews by several National Football League ball clubs.
“I tell everybody that Connie was a key factor in me being drafted into the pros,” said Francis, who was chosen in the fifth round of the 1973 NFL Draft by the Buffalo Bills. “I caught more touchdown passes (14) from him in one season than I did during my entire four-year career.”
Taylor, who transferred from Wiley (Texas) College in 1969, was a two-sport athlete for the Lions, starring in football and baseball. Known as a key special team’s player for most of his collegiate years, he was a dominated defensive back during his senior in 1972 while receiving honorable mention All-American recognition by the Pittsburgh Courier newspaper.
The Class of 2017 will be inducted at a banquet at 7 p.m. on Oct. 13 at the Pine Bluff Convention Center Ballroom as part of UAPB’s homecoming activities.