Van Heflin, Atlanta Native and Vanderbilt University’s First Full-time Black Quarterback, Dies at 62

Van Heflin, an Atlanta native who became Vanderbilt University’s first Black quarterback to earn the starting role in 1978 and hold onto the position for two seasons, died last Friday at age 62. (Credit: Vanderbilt University)

Van Heflin, an Atlanta native who became Vanderbilt University’s first Black quarterback to earn the starting role in 1978 and hold onto the position for two seasons, died last Friday at age 62.

Heflin suffered a heart attack, according to The Nashville Tennessean.

“Van was Vanderbilt’s first Black quarterback to consistently start, breaking the color barrier in 1978,” Vanderbilt athletic director Candice Storey Lee announced on Twitter. “He will always be a Commodore and we are grateful for his life and our thoughts and prayers are with him and the entire family, Van’s teammates, and all who were fortunate enough to know him.”

Funeral arrangements have not been finalized, reports said.

Vanderbilt never had a Black quarterback to consistently lead the Commodores football team until Heflin burst onto the scene in 1978.

Before that year, the only other Black quarterback at Vanderbilt to be named the starter was David Culley, who only filled in for an injured Fred Fisher against Rice in 1975.

Culley, who is the new head coach of the Houston Texans, was again relegated to a backup role once Fisher returned to action, but Heflin — just three years later — was the first QB to earn the starting role at the beginning of a season and retain the position through two seasons.

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SOURCE: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, ArLuther Lee

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