Eddie McAshan: One story of college football integration

Credit: AJC

Credit: AJC

Georgia Tech integrated its student population in 1961. The football team took on its first black football player in 1969, quarterback Eddie McAshan.

Karl Barnes, a defensive back, walked on before McAshan arrived at the school, but only saw playing time after McAshan made his varsity debut in 1970.

McAshan became the first African-American quarterback to start at a major Southeastern university and also the first Black player to start at Tech.

He made his first start Sept. 12, 1970, leading the Yellow Jackets a come-from-behind win with two touchdown drives in the fourth quarter to defeat South Carolina, 23-20.

Tech went 9-3 and earned a Sun Bowl win with the sophomore.

McAshan set 17 school records. His 32 passing touchdowns rank fifth in Georgia Tech history.

McAshan’s story is among the hundreds highlighted in an exhibit at the College Football Hall of Fame — open through May — called “The Blood, Sweat and Tears,” telling the story of integration in college football.

There are 231 and 13 Black coaches inducted into the Atlanta hall. Here’s a list of a few others from Tech who helped pave the way:


Edward “Eddie” McAshan, quarterback from 1970-72, first African-American football player to start at Georgia Tech; first African-American scholarship player at Georgia Tech; first Black quarterback to start for a major university in the Southeast.

Karl “PeeWee” Barnes, defensive back/returner in 1972, first African-American walk-on player at Georgia Tech.

Greg Horne, tailback from 1971-73, second African-American scholarship player at Georgia Tech.

Joe Harris, linebacker from 1972-74, first African-America captain at Georgia Tech, third African-American scholarship player at Georgia Tech.