Presnell led NFL in scoring in 1935

IRONTON, Ohio -- Glenn Presnell, who starred for the Detroit Lions in the 1930s and later spent 28 years as a college head coach and athletic director, is dead at 99.

After playing semipro ball for the Ironton Tanks from 1927 to 1930, Presnell joined the NFL's Portsmouth Spartans, a team that three years later became the Detroit Lions.

It was in Detroit that Presnell enjoyed his finest NFL seasons, leading the Lions to the 1935 league championship. He earned his best-ever pro football salary of $4,000 there, a huge amount in that era.

Presnell led the league in scoring that season and was first-team All-Pro. He had earned second team honors before and on Oct. 7, 1934, kicked a then-NFL record 54-yard field goal. The record stood for 19 years.

Presnell retired after nine professional seasons and spent one year as an assistant coach at Kansas, then went to his alma mater Nebraska before serving in the Navy for three years during World War II.

After the war, Presnell was hired at Eastern Kentucky and spent 17 years as head coach and another 11 as the athletic director before retiring in 1974.

Former Eastern Kentucky head football coach Roy Kidd, who won 300 games during his career, played for Presnell at EKU. He said Presnell was one of the all-time great players.

One player in the Lions backfield from the '35 championship team was Dutch Clark. Presnell shared the backfield duties with Clark, but Presnell said that when things got tight at the end of the game, Lions coach Potsy Clark always turned to him.

"Potsy had more confidence in me. We'd get the lead and Potsy would always turn to me and say, 'Get in there Glenn and hold 'em,'" Presnell said.