83: Mike Castronis, Offensive Line #39 (1943 – 1945)
Mike Castronis grew up in Florida and wanted to play football for the Gators in Gainesville. But as fate would have it, Mike was deemed too small to play football at Florida and wound up playing football in Athens for Wally Butts. Despite his small size, Castronis earned a reputation of playing with heart and became a three year-starter for Georgia on the offensive line.
Mike was named to the First Team All-SEC in 1943 and 1944, but 1945 would be his finest year at Georgia. He became the first player in Georgia history to earn All-SEC honors for three consecutive seasons. Following the season in which Georgia went 9-2 (including a victory in the Oil Bowl), Castronis was named to the All-American team.
After his playing career ended, Mike Castronis continued to have a profound impact on The University of Georgia football program. He served as a graduate assistant during the 1946 season and then became a high school football coach. He returned to Georgia in 1961, where he served as line coach and later as the Freshman and JV coach under Vince Dooley. The University now presents an award honoring Castronis. The Mike Castonis Award is given “for the man who never, never gave up the fight.” Recent recipients include David Jacobs, David Pollack, and Will Thompson. He was inducted into the UGA Circle of Honor in 2003.
For more on Coach Mike, check out this story: