Billy Ray Barnes
Billy Ray "Bullet" Barnes first came to prominence in 1955, when he led the ACC and placed third nationally with 31 pass receptions. His dynamic athletic ability and intense competitive spirit helped pave the way for his selection in 1956 as the team captain.
Barnes then led the ACC in rushing in 1956 with 1,010 yards, becoming the first player in ACC history to rush for more than 1,000 yards in a single season and earning Player of the Year honors in the league. In that same year, he was named to the Look Magazine All-America team.
Barnes' success did not stop on the football field; he was also an accomplished baseball player for the Demon Deacons. As a third baseman, Barnes recorded the last out of the 1955 College World Series as Wake Forest defeated Western Michigan 7-6 in the title game and won the first NCAA championship in any sport by an ACC school. It remains the league's only College World Series championship.
A first team All-ACC pick in 1956 and 1957, Barnes recorded batting averages of .319 and .310, respectively.
Only five days after completing his college football career, Barnes was the second-round choice of the Philadelphia Eagles in the 1957 NFL draft, which was actually held on Nov. 27, 1956. He didn't sign immediately, however. He played the 1957 baseball season for the Deacs, graduated and then became an Eagle.
He embarked on an impressive nine-year playing career that included 3,421 yards in rushing, 1,786 more in receiving, 38 total touchdowns and three Pro Bowl appearances.
In the 1960 NFL championship game, Barnes contributed a key run, catch and block on the game-winning drive as the Eagles defeated the Green Bay Packers 17-13.
Barnes played two seasons each for Washington and Minnesota but remained active in the game as an assistant coach for the Atlanta Falcons.
Barnes, whose jersey number, 33, was retired after his senior season, graduated as Wake's record-holder for rushing yardage (1,607), and he's still 14th on the chart. Barnes was chosen for the Wake Forest Hall of Fame in 1975.
Lowell "Lefty" Davis
A native of Johnston City, Ill., the 6-1, 151-pound Davis was not highly recruited out of high school.
Davis played in 99 career basketball games for the Deacons, scoring 1,594 points, an average of 16.1 per game. He also averaged 6.2 rebounds per contest. Davis earned All-ACC honors in basketball in 1954, 1955 and 1956 and was an all-conference baseball selection in 1955 and 1956. In 1955, Davis was the recipient of the Teague Memorial Award as the outstanding athlete in the Carolinas.
In 1955, Davis teamed with Dickie Hemric to give Wake Forest one of the top one-two punches in college basketball. Hemric averaged 27.6 points per game and Davis scored 19.3 per game.
In baseball, Davis compiled a 20-5 career mark including a 10-1 record for Wake Forest's 1955 College World Series championship team. At one point during the season, Davis won eight straight games. His only loss was to West Virginia in the District III playoffs. He had a 7-1 lead entering the ninth inning but lost 9-7 to the Mountaineers.
At the start of the CWS, Davis was not allowed to fly with the team to Omaha because he had missed too many chapel services. However, athletic department officials were able to reach a compromise that allowed Davis to play in the weekend games as long as he was back in class on Monday morning. Davis was flown to Omaha where he beat Northern Colorado 10-0 in a weekend game.
"When the school was in old Wake Forest, he went to a track meet at (N.C.) State to pole vault and high jump in the morning," former teammate Jack Murdock told the Winston-Salem Journal. "In the afternoon, he went back to Wake Forest and pitched three innings against State in baseball. We won that game."
Davis was one of the top pole-vaulters and high-jumpers in the ACC during his time at Wake Forest.
Davis pitched left-handed but would write, eat, and play golf right-handed.
Murray Greason, Wake Forest's basketball coach at the time, recalled how Davis came to Wake Forest. Wendell Starrick, Lefty's high school coach, had sent Jack Williams to Wake Forest a year earlier. Starrick contacted Greason and told him he had another player for him and Greason said to send him along.
"I almost dropped my teeth when Lefty walked in and told me who he was," Greason recalls. "I was of the same opinion as many other Wake Forest people. I thought the kid should be in the infirmary instead of on the basketball court."
In 1952-53, Lefty's freshman year, he played in 15 of 30 basketball games as Wake Forest won the Southern Conference championship. He had one win on the mound that spring.
During the 1953-54 basketball season, Wake Forest played in Madison Square Garden. Hemric was out of the lineup due to an injury and Davis scored 28 points against Seton Hall.
As a sophomore, Davis averaged 17.4 points as Wake reached the finals of the first ACC Tournament before falling to N.C. State. In the spring of 1954, Davis was 4-3 for the baseball team.
In 1954-55, Davis averaged 19.3 points and went 10-1 on the mound.
As a senior, he was named to the Dix Classic All-Tournament team in basketball and was a second-team all-tournament pick in a Charlotte tournament.
Basketball coach Bones McKinney said of Davis: "Lefty can do everything the pros can do but knock you down, and he isn't heavy enough to do that. He is one of the greatest competitors I have ever seen."
Davis was killed in an auto accident in Oklahoma City in 1986. He had been a drafting supervisor with AT&T Information Systems.
John "Red" O'Quinn
A native of Bluett Falls, N.C., O'Quinn was an excellent high school athlete at Asheboro High. He entered the Navy and after being discharged, he enrolled at Wake Forest in 1946.
O'Quinn led the nation in pass receptions in 1948 and finished his career with 124 receptions for 1,990 yards and 22 touchdowns. He also played basketball for two seasons for the Deacons.
Following his graduation in 1949, O'Quinn played for the Chicago Bears under George Halas. After a brief stint with the Bears, O'Quinn joined the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League from 1952-59.
He found great success in the CFL, including a Grey Cup Championship in 1954. In that game, he caught 12 passes for 293 yards. Both figures remain records for the title game. His 90-yard touchdown receptions is tied for second-longest in Grey Cup history.
After his playing career, O'Quinn returned to the CFL as the general manager of the Ottawa Rough Riders and Alouettes, who won another Grey Cup in 1970. He was elected to the CFL Hall of Fame in 1981.
O'Quinn was born in Asheboro, N.C., in 1925 and passed away on April 21, 2002.
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