Don Tatum grew up in the Collins Grove community out off Fleming Road not too far from the PTI airport. He passed away last Wednesday at the age of 50 according to the N&R. His memorial service was scheduled for today at the Collins Grove United Methodist Church.
Don Tatum played football and was a wrestler for Western Guilford High School and he excelled in both sports. As a senior he was All-County, All Conference, and he was named to the North-South All-Star Game roster as linebacker. This was back in the mid-70’s when they still played the North-South game in addition to the East-West All-Star games here in Greensboro. The North-South game was played in the middle of the summer down in Greenville, N.C.
Don Tatum was a state wrestling champ in the 195/198 pound weight class and it was open classificaton, 1-A through 4-A all were in one big group going for the same trophies.(no 1-A, 2-A, 3-A, 4-A, you fought against everybody from everywhere) Don lost to Cessie Love of Grimsley in the sectionals and then beat Love in a re-match at the State Finals in Winston-Salem at Parkland High School back in 1974.
Tatum got a football scholarship to Elon but lasted only one year there and the Fighting Christians of that day had moved Don from FB/LB to the line. Tatum was at 6’2/215 when he went into college but in recent years his weight had balooned to well over 300 pounds due to complications from diabetes.
Tatum was a great one and I still remember the night back in 1973 when we took our team down to Randleman and our halfback Herbert Pressley followed the blocking of the fullback Tatum and the Hornet linemen on his way to 360 yards and 7 touchdowns on the ground. Pressley carried the ball 10 times for 360 yards and 7 TD’s!!! That’s averaging 36 yards a carry if my math is still correct.
Pressley was getting letters the following Monday from Notre Dame(they were pretty good back then) and from everybody else and their mother. Tatum was the man and with Pressley they formed a mean one-two punch. The only problem was Ragsdale had a one-two punch that was just a little bit better in Ricky Adams and Harold Odom. I have heard many people say that was some of the best football ever played in Guilford County with Tatum, Pressley, Adams, and Odom.
Big Don Tatum was black dude and I was white dude back in that day growing up in the Western Guilford/Oak Ridge Road/Collins Grove communities but we had respect for each other because we were brothers going for the same piece of pie, satisfaction knowing we survived the rigors of another Doug Henderson/Bill Hollifield training session.
I just played another football game on Thanksgiving Day in an on-going 20 year series at Guilford College but by reading this we know Don has taken the fields for the last time.
Don Tatum, RIP. You deserve it.