David Claybourn Sports Views

David Claybourn Sports Views

  His real first name was Clarence.

  But nearly everybody in the Commerce and Texas A&M University-Commerce sports circles called him Jerry.

  Clarence “Jerry” Lytle, who was born on Halloween in 1933 and died on Tuesday, was a standout all-around athlete at Commerce High School and at what was then called East Texas State.

  Jerry’s versatility showed at Commerce High School as he lettered in football, basketball, baseball and boxing and also served as president of his senior class.

  As a member of the East Texas football team, Lytle played fullback on offense and linebacker on defense, plus punted the ball and returned kicks.

  Lytle played on Lion football teams that went 11-0 in 1952, winning the Tangerine Bowl in Orlando with a 33-0 pasting of Tennessee Tech, and on a 1953 Lion team that was 10-0-1, ending with a 7-7 tie against Arkansas State in the Tangerine Bowl.

  After graduating from East Texas, Lytle left Commerce to coach in Reilly Springs, Texas and then returned to his hometown to serve as a teacher-coach at W.J. Wheeler Junior High, a principal at A.L. Day Elementary and then as the full-time director of financial aid at East Texas State, helping financial aid grow from $800,000 to more than $10 million.

  Lytle, who earned his bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate at East Texas State, also served the university in a variety of other positions and remained an active supporter of the Commerce and A&M-Commerce athletic programs. His “Lytle Stew” was a popular staple at get-togethers in Commerce.

  He was inducted into both the Commerce ISD Hall of Honor and the A&M Commerce Athletic Hall of Fame, plus earned many other civic and university awards.

  I knew Jerry as a nice guy who cared deeply about Commerce and the University. He was a steady presence at athletic contests in Commerce and when the Tigers and Lions hit the road. He will be missed.

  His service is planned for 1 p.m. Saturday at the First Baptist Church in Commerce.

  Memorials can be sent to the Dr. Jerry Lytle Honorary Endowment that provides financial assistance to the football and men’s basketball programs. The address is the Dr. Jerry Lytle Honorary Endowment, Texas A&M University-Commerce Foundation, P.O. Box 3425, Commerce, Texas 75429-3425.

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  I have mixed emotions about the holdout of Dallas Cowboys’ running back Zeke Elliott. Yes, he’s one of the best running backs in the NFL and deserves top dollar because the average career of a running back is not very long but he’s still under contract through 2020. I wished he’d reported to Oxnard with the rest of the team for preseason practices but an injury could also hurt his asking price.

  I just hope the Cowboys can get this situation resolved with Elliott so he can play this season. He makes the Cowboys a better football team when he’s on the field.

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  I’m pulling for free agent rookie Damon Sheehy-Guiseppi to make the Cleveland Browns’ football team. Sheehy-Guiseppi, who last played in junior college, talked his way into a tryout for the Browns. They decided to take a chance on Sheehy-Guiseppi after he clocked a fast 4.38 time in the 40 in that tryout.

  Sheehy-Guiseppi, who was a standout kick returner in college, returned a punt 86 yards for a touchdown during Thursday’s exhibition game against the Washington Redskins.

  What a great story it would be if this guy, who was broke and didn’t have a job,  made it onto the Browns’ roster for the 2019 season.

  David Claybourn is sports editor of the Herald-Banner.