Florence and college teammate Walker earn retired jerseys in TU Athletic Department


Late last month, Drayton Florence and Tuskegee University teammate Frank Walker were honored as the first two football players in the history of Tuskegee Athletics to get their numbers retired by the department. Both players were recognized with special commemorative plates at the Tuskegee University annual awards banquet, which was held April 23rd inside Logan Hall on the campus of Tuskegee University.

Florence, in his eleventh NFL season now representing the Carolina Panthers, was honored for his football career at TU from 2001 to 2002, and also recognized for his work with the Drayton Florence Foundation. The foundation, established in 2005 as a way to motivate and educate America’s youth, expanded its’ mission in 2010 to honor the families and children of all active military personnel. Career totals for Drayton Florence include 460 total tackles in 143 games played, with 18 interceptions for 233 return yards and two touchdowns from 86 total passes defended.

Also honored at the annual banquet was Frank Walker, Florence’s college teammate. Walker played a total of nine seasons in the NFL between five different franchises, most recently with the Dallas Cowboys in 2011. His career numbers amounted to 181 combined tackles, with nine interceptions for a total of 180 return yards to go with a touchdown from 29 passes defended. Like Florence, Walker has also served as a servant of the community, by holding a free annual football camp for football players at his local high school (Booker T. Washington) in Tuskegee, which is held in the very facility that he played college football at, inside Cleve L. Abbott Stadium.

The Golden Tigers had a formidable squad with both Florence and Walker in the defensive backfield during the 2001 and 2002 seasons, as these teams with the future NFL cornerbacks had a combined record 0f 21-2, with consecutive conference championships in the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC). Walker also played his undergraduate years at Tuskegee, and a was a member of one more SIAC Championship team in 2000, which also earned the distinction of winning a Black National Championship with an undefeated record of 12-0. Walker’s 1999 team earned his worst single season record at Tuskegee, as the Golden Tigers finished with a record of 9-3.

Florence and Walker paid respect at the annual banquet to the current iteration of Golden Tigers, which had an overall record of 10-2 and earned its’ 26th outright SIAC Championship (29th overall) in Tuskegee University history. Along with SIAC Coach of the Year Willie Slater, SIAC Player of the Year and Harlon Hill Trophy finalist Derrick Washington was honored at the banquet for key contributions in an excellent season of Golden Tigers’ Football. Even though Washington wasn’t picked up in the 2013 NFL Draft, there is a good possibility that he may be taken as a free-agent signee before the start of the upcoming NFL season.

Former NFL cornerback and Tuskegee, Ala. native Frank Walker, along with Carolina Panthers' cornerback Drayton Florence, show off their retired numbers and newly acquired letterman's jackets at the annual athletic awards banquet held in Logan Hall on April 23. With the duo of players (from left to right) is current TU Football Coach Willie Slater, Offensive Line coach Keith Higdon, Tuskegee University President Dr. Gilbert Rochon, and TU Interim AD Leon Douglas.

SIAC Football Player of the Year and Harlon Hill Trophy Finalist Derrick Washington shows off his Player of the Year award for Tuskegee Football. Surrounding Washington (from left to right) is TU Interim AD Leon Douglas, Carolina Panthers' CB Drayton Florence, TU Football Coach Willie Slater, Tuskegee University President Dr. Gilbert Rochon and former NFL CB and Tuskegee, Ala. native Frank Walker.

© 2013 Tuskegee University

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