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Kentucky Football Retires Two Jerseys




LEXINGTON, Ky. - The University of Kentucky Athletics Association officially retired two jerseys of former Wildcats standouts in a special ceremony during the 1996 UK Kickoff Luncheon today at the Hyatt Regency Hotel.

Two former All-Southeastern Conference performers, halfback Calvin Bird and running back Mark Higgs, were honored.

The ceremony marks the eighth consecutive year that the University of Kentucky has retired jerseys in honor of former Wildcats footballers. UK Athletics Director C. M. Newton directed a committee which selected the honorees based on their contributions to the University of Kentucky and the sport of football.

"This is always a special day for the UK athletics family," Newton said. "We are proud to recognize our honorees for their outstanding achievements and contributions, both on and off the field, to Kentucky football. Each of the players recognized today played a significant role in the history of Kentucky football and in their honor, we retire their jerseys."

Newton said it is the policy of the UK Athletics Association to recognize former Wildcats by retiring a jersey in the player's honor instead of a number. This policy is used for all UK varsity sports programs.

Including the 1997 honorees, the University of Kentucky has retired 43 jerseys of former Wildcats players and coaches. Previous players and coaches who have been honored include George Adams, Ermal Allen, Sam Ball, Rodger Bird, George Blanda, Paul "Bear" Bryant, Warren Bryant, Jerry Claiborne, Blanton Collier, Sonny Collins, Ray Correll, Bob Davis, Joe Federspiel, Bob Gain, Irv Goode, Tom Hutchinson, Clyde Johnson, Wallace "Wah Wah" Jones, John "Shipwreck" Kelly, Ralph Kercheval, Rick Kestner, Jim Kovach, Dicky Lyons, Charlie McClendon, Steve Meilinger, Lou Michaels, Doug Moseley, Rick Norton, Rick Nuzum, Babe Parilli, Derrick Ramsey, Jay Rhodemyre, Dave Roller, Howard Schnellenberger, Larry Seiple, Washington "Wash" Serini, Bernie Shively, Art Still, Herschel Turner, Harry Ulinski, and Jeff Van Note.

CALVIN BIRD, #21, Halfback / Kick Returner, 1958-60

Calvin Bird was one of the most versatile players in wildcats history ... Playing from 1958 to 1960 for coach Blanton Collier, bird excelled as a running back, pass receiver, defensive back, kickoff returner, and punt returner ... He continues to hold five school records in the categories of kickoff returns, all-purpose yardage, and scoring ... He was chosen as the sec "sophomore of the year" in 1958 when he led the league in pass receiving ... He was named to the all-sec teams as a junior and senior ... He led the team in receiving and all-purpose yardage for three consecutive seasons ... He played in three all-star games following his senior year and was the most valuable back in the all-american bowl ... Calvin is one of four brothers who played sports at uk ... His older brother, Jerry, is a retired jersey honoree in basketball and a younger brother, Rodger, has a retired jersey in football ... Having already taken early retirement in one career, Calvin moved back to lexington four years ago and has begun another career as a representative of Six Manufacturers of telecommunications products.

Excelled as a running back, pass receiver, defensive back, kickoff returner, and punt returner under Coach Blanton Collier ... Continues to hold five school records ... Has UK marks for highest kickoff return average in a season (30.4, 1959) and career (27.05) ... Averaged 8.44 yards every time he touched the ball during his career, another school record (min. 300 plays) ... Scored a school-record 25 points in one game, vs. Hawaii in 1958, and tied the school mark for TDs in a game with four ... Was a second-team All-SEC selection as a junior and a third-team choice as a senior ... Chosen the SEC's "Sophomore of the Year" in 1958 when he led the league in pass receiving ... Led the team in receiving and all-purpose yardage for three consecutive seasons ... Played in three all-star games following his senior season and was chosen the Most Valuable Back in the All-American Bowl ...Lives in Lexington ... Calvin's brother, Rodger, is a UK football retired jersey honoree and another brother, Jerry, is a UK basketball retired jersey honoree.

Rushing     Att.Yds.Avg. TD      Receiving   No. Yds. Avg.   TD
1958        51  168 3.3  6       1958        21  373 17.8    4
1959        98  336 3.4  5       1959        16  151  9.4    0
1960        53  129 2.4  3       1960        15  222 14.8    2
Totals     202  633 3.1 14      Totals       52  746 14.3    6
KO Return  No. Yds. Avg.  TD      PuntReturn  No. Yds.  Avg.  TD
1958        9  231  23.6   0       1958         6   18   3.0    0
1959       14  426  30.4   1       1959        10  169  16.9    2
1960       14  344  24.5   0       1960        11  119  10.8    0   
Totals     37 1001  27.1   1       Totals      27  306  11.3    2
All-Purpose Plays    Yds.
1958         87      790
1959        138     1082
1960         93      814
Totals      318     2686

MARK HIGGS, #22, Running Back, 1984-87

Standout running back from 1984-87 for Coach Jerry Claiborne ... Ranks third in UK history with 2,892 rushing yards ... Holds school records for highest rushing average in a season (6.6 yards per attempt in 1987) and career (5.43 yards per attempt) ... His senior season in 1987 is one of the greatest campaigns in school history ... Rushed for what was then a school record of 1,278 yards (broken in 1995 by Moe Williams) ... Had six 100-yard games as a senior ... Selected as the SEC Offensive Player of the Week when he rushed for 192 yards in a 35-6 victory over Mississippi ... Named second-team All-SEC and the UK's Most Valuable Senior ... Also a member of the SEC Academic Honor Roll ... Was a letterman on the 1984 Wildcats squad that won the Hall of Fame Bowl ... Played in the Blue-Gray Game and Hula Bowl following his senior season ... Drafted by the Dallas Cowboys and enjoyed an eight-year career in the National Football League with Dallas, Philadelphia, Miami, and Arizona ... Lives in Davie, Fla.

Rushing    Att.   Yds. Avg. TD      Receiving   No. Yds.  Avg. TD
1984         75   476  6.3   5       1984        3   0    0.0   0
1985        143   611  4.3   5       1985       19  178   9.4   0
1986        121   527  4.4   5       1986       20  182   9.2   0 
1987        193  1278  6.6  10      1987        16  123   7.7   0
Totals      532  2892  5.4  25      Totals      58  483   8.3   0

Playing from 1984 to 1987 for coach jerry claiborne, Mark Higgs is one of the greatest running backs ever to wear the blue and white ... He ranks third in school history with 2,892 rushing yards ... He holds school records for highest rushing average in a season and highest rushing average in a career ... His senior season in 1987 is one of the most outstanding campaigns in UK history ... He rushed for what was then a school record of 1,278 yards ... He had six 100-yard games ... He was selected as the sec offensive player of the week when he rushed for 192 yards in a victory over Mississippi ... He was named All-SEC and the team's most valuable senior ... Mark earned a place on the SEC academic honor roll ... He was a letterman on the 1984 Wildcats squad that won the Hall of Fame Bowl ... He played in the Hula Bowl and Blue-Gray game following his senior year ... He was drafted by the Dallas cowboys and enjoyed an eight-year career in the National Football League with Dallas, Philadelphia, Miami, and Arizona ... Now lives in Davie, Florida, where he is co-owner of a transportation company.


 

 

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