More than anything else, Eddie “The Man” McAshan was a trendsetter and a program-changer.
In the fall of 1970, McAshan, the son of a funeral director, became the first black quarterback in Georgia Tech football history. McAshan, a dual threat dandy, opened some doors and threw some touchdown passes.
He repaid coach Bud Carson and the Yellow Jackets for his scholarship time after time, and game after game. As a sophomore starter for Georgia Tech, McAshan opened his college career by leading the Rambling Wreck to four consecutive wins over South Carolina, Florida State, Miami and the Clemson Tigers.
Georgia Tech did not lose until falling to Tennessee, 17-6 in Atlanta on Oct. 10. But McAshan still went on to lead the Yellow Jackets to a 9-3 record and a No. 13 national ranking. Tech also knocked off Georgia, 17-7 in Athens.
The Yellow Jackets beat Texas Tech as well in the Sun Bowl in El Paso. McAshan scrambled around and fired the ball, completing 125 passes for 1,138 yards and nine touchdowns in his sophomore season.
There were more big wins and more McAshan theatrics the following season in 1971. As a junior for Tech, McAshan led Tech to an upset win over 18th-ranked Michigan State. Additional Yellow Jacket victories followed, including a 24-14 win over Clemson at Grant Field and a 12-6 decision over the Florida State Seminoles in Atlanta.
McAshan and the Jackets completed a 6-6 campaign with an appearance in the Peach Bowl against Ole Miss. The Rebels throttled the Jackets, 41-18 at Fulton County Stadium.
The season still ended with McAshan completing 53 percent of his passes for 1,186 yards and seven touchdowns. McAshan would close out his college career one season later in 1972 as he steered the Rambling Wreck to a 7-4-1 record and a Liberty Bowl bid.
As a senior, McAshan and Tech rattled off wins against Boston College, Navy, Clemson and Michigan State. McAshan, the former Florida prep All-State player from Gainesville High, passed for 1,756 yards and 16 touchdowns.
The Jackets finished the year as the 20th-ranked team in the country. And McAshan walked away from college football with 17 school records at Georgia Tech.
McAshan, just the second African-American quarterback to start for a college in the South, climaxed his Rambling Wreck days with 4,080 yards passing and 32 touchdowns.
Eddie “The Man” McAshan is a Georgia Tech legend.