Jesse H. “Sonny” Wade, Jr.
Jesse H. “Sonny” Wade, Jr. a native of Martinsville, Virginia, is one of the most prolific football players to have attended Emory & Henry College. He transferred to the college after his freshman year at Virginia Tech and played quarterback and punter for the Wasps his remaining three years, where he broke a host of school records. Every year he was at E&H, Wade was named Virginia Small College Player of the Year. Wade had his number 18 jersey retired by Emory & Henry and he was inducted into the Sports Hall of Fame in 1974, the year after he graduated.
Over his three-year career, Wade rushed for 841 yards and threw for 5,033 yards bringing his career yardage to 5,874. His completion percentage was 50.2%, having completed 377 out of 751 attempted passes and only 5.2% of his throws were intercepted.
In the 1967 season, Wade led the nation in scoring with a total of 141 points. He made Little All-America honorable mention, ranked eighth in the nation in punting, tenth in total offense, and fourth in individual passing. The following year he received NAIA All-District Six honors, ranked third in state in scoring, and ranked second in the NAIA in passing and total offense. In his last season at the helm of the Wasps’ offense, he led the team to a 9-1 record. He was named to the Associated Press Small College All-America First-Team and consequently played in the nationally televised North-South All-Star game on New Year’s Day.
Wade left college in 1969 before he had completed his credits in order to pursue a professional football career, but completed his degree over the next few years and graduated in 1973.
After leaving Emory & Henry, Wade was drafted to the Philadelphia Eagles in the tenth round, but ultimately signed as quarterback and punter for the Montreal Alouettes in the Canadian Football League in 1969. Wade became known for his cool head and his uncanny ability to deliver in the clutch. In the 1970, 1974, and 1977 seasons, he led the team to victories in the Grey Cup, which is the Canadian equivalent of the Super Bowl, and was named Most Valuable Player in all three games. He is tied with Doug Flutie for the most Grey Cup MVP awards. In the 1975 season, he climbed into the top ten all-time CFL punters with 614 punts for a total of 24,869 yards, or 40.5 yards per punt. Wade retired from his career with the Alouettes in 1978 after a season in which he led the league in percentage of pass completions, passing yardage, and punting yardage. In his career, Wade threw for 15,014 yards and 90 touchdowns.
Wade returned to Martinsville and became a businessman. He was recruited by Martinsville High School football coach Taylor Edwards to help train and mentor young Shawn Moore, who would go on to become a Division I All-American and professional quarterback.
Wade, who is also a U.S. Army veteran, was elected Young Alumnus of the Year in 1978 by the Alumni Association of Emory & Henry College. He was inducted into the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame in 1994, and as of 2012 he can be found on a Canadian postage stamp.