In the last 10 years the Chattanooga area has produced more high school football All-Americans — five — and more state championship teams than during any previous decade. But the most memorable area prep players during that time didn’t earn any national acclaim or win a state title.
However, twins Josh and Daniel Bullocks were the foundation of a previously woeful Hixson program that became a yearly playoff contender. They went on to establish themselves at the University of Nebraska as two of the top defensive backs in the nation, and both were selected 40th overall in successive NFL drafts, Josh to New Orleans in 2005 and Daniel to Detroit the following year.
They are regulars in those secondaries, and they are on the Times Free Press all-decade football team for high school players since the city’s daily newspapers merged.
“I use them quite a bit as examples,” said current Hixson coach Houston White, who coached against the twins while at Notre Dame. “Our workout facility is named in their honor, and there’s a lot of pride and dedication in this program because of what they did. Their presence is constant.
“When I coached against them, I remember Daniel should have been sacked on one play late in the game, but he spun away from about three tackles and outran everybody for a 50-yard touchdowns to put the game away. It’s still one of the best single efforts I’ve ever seen. Just an amazing individual play.”
The Bullocks brothers also helped produce arguably the biggest upset of the last decade as well. With just nine seconds remaining and Hixson trailing perennial Region 4-4A power Cleveland by one point, Josh Bullocks caused a fumble, then scooped it up and returned it 42 yards for the winning touchdown as time expired.
It was the first region loss for the Blue Raiders in more than five seasons and helped Hixson qualify for the program’s first playoff berth.
The older of the two by one minute, Daniel became Hixson’s first and only Mr. Football award winner as a senior, when he ran for more than 1,500 yards and 23 touchdowns and intercepted four passes. He was later named the MVP of the Tennessee-Kentucky all-star game after returning an interception 104 yards for the winning TD.
But Josh shone brighter at Nebraska, leading the nation with a Big 12-record 10 interceptions as a sophomore. He earned All-America honors and left the Cornhuskers after his junior season to enter the NFL draft. He has since started all but the first three games of his rookie season.
The twins have established an annual scholarship at Hixson, which retired their jerseys two years ago.
“Their mother (Peaches Williams) is their backbone,” said former Hixson coach Dan Duff. “They come from a single-parent home, but buddy, she did a tremendous job with them. The character those kids have, everything positive comes from her upbringing.
“They’re the best players I’ve ever coached.”
Stephen has covered local sports in the tri-state area for more than 20 years, starting at the News-Free Press as a 19-year-old reporter. He has been with the Times Free Press since its inception and has been an assistant sports editor since 2005. Stephen is among the most decorated writers in the TFP’s newsroom, winning numerous state, regional and national writing awards. He was named one of the top 10 sports writers in the nation ...