This post is sponsored by EA Sports. As we countdown the days until college football, we begin by counting down the days until NCAA 11. Today, we talk about our favorite players all-time at Georgia Tech. They can play any sport you choose, just tell us who and why.
I made two lists: Five players that are considered to be in my favorites and five players I wish I had been able to watch play football.
I've said it before, I'll say it again. Joe Hamilton was my hero as I grew up and grew into my fanhood. I was deeply disappointed when his flaws brought to public when he got pulled over and lost his position with the team, but I haven't wavered. Others will pass his accomplishments and his status for sure, but very few will reach his sentimental value to Tech fans. Hamilton helped us get back in the spotlight and for that, he will be always appreciated.
First, watch this speech.
Tashard was the emotional leader. He was the one who always spoke up and played the crowd favorite. We're a mob. We follow the loud and boisterous ones. Tashard also helped get a mini helmet signed by himself, Reggie Ball, and Calvin Johnson for my little brother a few years ago in history class.
I mean what is there to say about Calvin Johnson that is not already known? The guy made plays and won games by himself:
Calvin was a one-of-a-kind player that made the entire supporting cast around him perform better...just look at Taylor Bennett in the Gator Bowl against West Virginia. For three years on The Flats, fans"ooed" and "ahhd" as they watched him catch footballs that no mere mortal could catch. Babies were thrust in his face for autographs, and old men did whatever they could just to get a glimpse of the man soon to be called "Megatron".
At Tech, Calvin was a Biletnikoff Award winner and a first team All-American, only one of six players in Georgia Tech history to have such honors.
He never did have much to say and was very quiet off the field. But on the field he was a force to be reckoned with, he knew double coverage like it was his right hand but he still overcame and became one of the Georgia Tech legends that will surely be remembered for a long, long time.
I don't have many memories of actually watching Kelley Rhino play football, but I do have memories of Wes Durham describing his punt returns and the excitement that ensued. During his years at Tech, Kelley shattered his father's punt return records by returning 112 punts for a total of 1,135 yards, both rank 2nd in ACC history. Rhino didn't know the definition of "fair catch" and averaged just over 10 yards per return as he always prepared to run the ball down the field no matter the position of the closest opponent.
I must be attracted to shiny objects, like a magpie bird. Phillip Wheeler had the hair that made you watch him with utmost attention. I remember seeing him dive everywhere, sacking the quarterback or tackling the ball carrier and all the sudden he's upside down, throwing the opponent to the ground and the hair flying around all over his shoulder pads. Phillip Wheeler was, and still is, a force to be reckoned with.
Players I wish I was able to watch
I've met him once and he is still not a person to mess with. If you ever get to see his All-American award in the Edge Center, you'll see why he was so good during his time. The man was built! In his four years at Tech, Sanford collected 433 tackles and set a freshman record in tackles with 124 as a four-year starting linebacker. He played in the NFL for 10 seasons with the Buffalo Bills in which he started in all but one year.
Those crazy Rhinos! In 2002, Rhino was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. He is the only Georgia Tech player to have three first-team All-American honors. Rhino was a defensive back and return specialist who had 14 career interceptions. He did hold the punt return record until Kelley Rhino broke it in 2001.
Eddie Lee Ivery
Ivery set the NCAA single game rushing record against the Air Force Academy in 1978 after running for 356 yards. In 2009, he was honored as an ACC Football Legend. He status is apparent when you talk to a fan who was able to watch him play. They're eyes light up as they try to describe the talents the man possessed. My dad wasn't the biggest football fan while at Tech (his fanhood has since grown exponentially) but even he can tell you Eddie Lee stories.
"The Young Lefthander" is on my list because I grew up hearing him on the radio and once again, it wasn't until more recently have I grown to appreciate his accomplishments on the field. King was a quarterback for the Jackets for three years from 1965-1967. He appeared in the 1965 Gator Bowl and Bobby Dodd's last game, the 1967 Orange Bowl where the team fell to Steve Spurrier and the Florida Gators.
In 1978, King was inducted into the Georgia Tech Hall of Fame and in 1996 he entered the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame. He was named one of Georgia Tech's "Top 50 Greatest Athletes of the Twentieth Century" in 2000. I remember when Kim King died. I was sitting in Sociology class in high school and I had just picked up a copy of the day's Atlanta Journal-Constitution. It was a very sad moment, a voice I had heard alongside Wes Durham's for a long time had passed away. A few years later, I purchased King's book Tales From The Sideline, a collection of his memoirs from Georgia Tech's football past. It was through reading this book that I began to understand how involved in the Institute Kim King had been and it made me appreciate his contributions even more so. The book is an easy read but a good read and I strongly recommend it for any Tech fan.
Saving the best, and the most legendary for last...I first learned about George Morris when I read the Bobby Dodd autobiography Dodd's Luck. Morris was an All-American linebacker and captain for Tech's 1952 National Championship Team, also known as Bobby Dodd's "best team [he]...ever coached". Morris is an ACC Football Legend and a member of the National College Football Hall of Fame. Dodd's Luck has many stories about Morris' abilities and gameday heroics.
Who are the players on your list? Who are your favorites and who do you wish you could have watched?