Vanderbilt quarterback Van Heflin (7) tries to escape the relentless pressure of Tulane defensive end Al Jones during the first half. The Commodores fall to the Green Waves 38-3 before a home crowd of an estimated 27,600 at Dudley Field Oct. 7, 1978.

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News Articles

Van Heflin, who broke QB color barrier at Vanderbilt, dies at 62

Van Heflin, who played quarterback for Vanderbilt beginning in the late 1970s, died from a heart attack. He was 62.

Heflin is remembered as the quarterback who broke the color barrier for the Commodores in 1978. He was the first Black player to become the consistent starter at quarterback.

“We mourn the loss of football trailblazer Van Heflin, Sr.,” Vanderbilt athletic director Candice Storey Lee posted Saturday on Twitter. “In the words of his dear son, ‘I love him with all my heart and he loved Vanderbilt with all of his.'”

Heflin, who was from Atlanta, played at Vanderbilt from 1978-81, making the transition to running back as a senior.

He played in 44 games in all for the Commodores. He completed 50 percent of his pass attempts — 144 of 288 — for 1,803 yards with eight touchdowns and 22 interceptions. He ran the ball 386 times for 1,076 yards and caught 45 passes for 358 yards and added a combined 14 touchdowns.

The Cleveland Browns selected him in the eighth round of the 1982 NFL Draft with the intention of moving him to tight end but released him before the start of the season.

–Field Level Media

Field Level Media
Sport Writer & Editor
FLM has a North American focus while tying into regional and hyper-local resources – providing the ability to distribute compelling content through the writing of professional journalists. As the U.S. sports content provider to dozens of digital and print media publishers through strategic partnerships with the likes of Reuters and Nielsen Sports, FLM covers the nuts and bolts with a breaking news desk and game event coverage.

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