CLASS OF 2001
Bobby Bryant was a three sports star at Willingham High School before going on to play baseball and football at the University of South Carolina where he was ACC Athlete of the Year in both 1966 and 1967. Minnesota took Bryant in the seventh round of the ’67 NFL Draft and he would play defensive back for the Vikings for 13 seasons. Bryant played in 161 NFL games and ranks second on the Vikings all-time list with 51 career interceptions. In the 1976 NFC Championship game, Bryant returned a blocked FG attempt by the Los Angeles Rams Tom Dempsey for a TD and had 2 interceptions in the game. He was named to the 1975 and 1976 NFC Pro Bowl squads. He is one of 11 Vikings to have played in all four of their Super Bowls in the 1970’s. He is a member of the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame.
Watts Gunn made golfing history in the 1925 U.S. Amateur. He established a record for international championship golf by winning 15 straight holes in the first round of the 36-hole match. In that tournament, he went to the finals against friend and rival Bobby Jones, marking the only time two players from the same club ever met for the U.S. Amateur crown. At Lanier High School, Gunn captained golf teams that never lost a match. In 1926 and ‘28, he played on the Walker Cup teams with Jones, defeating the British team both years. He played many benefit tournaments, including several exhibitions with Jones in 1927 and ‘28. He also won the Georgia Amateur title in 1923 and ‘27, with a runner-up finish in 1925. For his exceptional accomplishments, he is a member of both the Macon and Georgia Sports Halls of Fame.
Tommy Hart was a standout football player at Ballard Hudson High School before attending Morris Brown College in Atlanta. He earned four letters in football as an offensive guard, offensive tackle and defensive tackle. He also earned three letters in track as a sprinter and shot putter. He was a three-time All-conference selection and was named second-team NAIA All-American as a senior. Tommy was drafted in the 10th round of the 1968 NFL Draft by San Francisco. He would play 12 seasons in the NFL with the 49ers, Bears and Saints. He averaged 15 sacks and 76 solo tackles during 8 seasons with San Francisco and once tallied 6 sacks in one game. In 1981, he was hired as an assistant defensive line coach for the 49ers under head coach Bill Walsh. He was a part of three Super Bowl championship teams. In 1993, he was inducted into the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame.
Chris Hatcher was a standout quarterback at Mt. de Sales Academy. He earned a scholarship to Valdosta State University and took head coach Hal Mumme’s wide-open offense to new heights. A two-time All-American, Hatcher threw for 11,363 yards and 121 touchdowns during his stellar career. In his senior year in 1994, he led the Blazers to their first-ever postseason berth, advancing to the quarterfinals. Hatcher claimed the post-season Harlan Hill Trophy, emblematic as the best player in NCAA Division II football. Chris set 29 VSU passing and total offense records. Among the national records he once set were a 68.5 career completion percentage and streak of 20 straight completions in a game against New Haven. After his playing career he went into coaching. His head coaching resume includes stops at his alma mater Valdosta State University, Georgia Southern University, Murray State University and Samford University.
Bobby Hendley was an outstanding baseball player at Lanier High School and Mercer University. In 1958, he signed a free agent contract to play professionally with the Milwaukee Braves. The left handed pitcher appeared in all or parts of seven seasons for the Milwaukee Braves, San Francisco Giants, Chicago Cubs and New York Mets and posted an overall record of 48-52. Bobby’s most memorable game in the majors came in 1965. He suffered a heartbreaking 1-0 loss to Los Angeles in which he hurled a complete game one-hitter against Dodger ace Sandy Koufax. Problem was, Koufax pitched a perfect game! Five days later, the two pitchers faced each other in a rematch at Wrigley Field. That time, Hendley gave up just four hits and defeated Koufax 2–1. After his playing days, Hendley returned to Macon and coached high school baseball with stops at River North and Stratford. He is a member of the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame.
Oliver Hunnicutt played football at Lanier High School and then went on to attend prep school at Brewton Parker Institute until 1936. He attended the University of Georgia where he ran track and played halfback for the Bulldogs. After graduating UGA, his coaching career began in 1941 when he served as head coach at Gainesville High School. In 1942, he moved to LaGrange, and became head coach and Athletic Director at LaGrange High before leaving for three years to serve in World War II. From 1943-1945. But in 1945, he returned and achieved an impressive record coaching the Grangers during a 28 year coaching career. He led the team to two state championships in 1955 and 1958. He retired from LaGrange High with a record of 187 wins, 96 losses, and 19 ties. He was elected to the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame in 1961.
Jamie Kaplan was named Stratford’s Best Senior Athlete in 1979 as a basketball and tennis standout. Jaime never lost a tennis match in high school and signed to play at the University of Georgia where she claimed an SEC doubles title in 198l. Transferred to Florida State where she was 1983 Metro Conference Singles and Doubles Champion. She was their first tennis player to qualify for the NCAA Championships. After College she played on the Professional Women’s Tennis Association from 1983-1989 where she won five Doubles titles. Jaime played at Wimbledon five times with her best performance coming in 1987, where she made the round of 16 in the mixed doubles. She had a best doubles ranking of 91 in the world. Jaime is one of Macon’s top volunteers engaging in many community projects. She has been a successful coach at her high school alma mater, and she is a member of the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame.
Tommy Mixon was a Lanier and Mercer University standout in both basketball and baseball. He captained both teams while at Mercer. Mixon scored more than 1,700 points at Mercer and was drafted by both the world champion Brooklyn Dodger baseball team and the world champion Fort Wayne Pistons basketball team. His Jersey Number 7 was retired following his playing career with the Bears. Tommy decided to try professional baseball and played for Thomasville in the Georgia-Florida League and then for Macon in the South Atlantic League. After his playing days, Tommy was the head basketball coach at Lanier and Central High School where he also coached football, baseball, golf and tennis. He worked as a baseball scout for the Los Angeles Dodgers for almost 30 years. He is a member of the Mercer and Georgia Sports Hall of Fames.
Alfred Sams, a top Macon amateur golfer who played left handed long before Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson made it popular. He played on a state championship team at Lanier and would later win two Macon Middle Georgia Golf tournaments. He was part of four winning teams of the prestigious Peach Blossom four Ball tournament at Idle Hour. He and Carling Schatzman won the event in 1954, 1956 and 1957 and he partnered with Arnold Blum to win again in 1962. He also won a National Left Handed Golfer Association Championship. Alfred was the captain of his college golf team at the University of the South.
Alfred Scott, a Macon native was considered one of the state’s best high school athletes when he played at Boys High School in Atlanta. He lettered in football basketball and track. He captained the 1918 University of Georgia basketball team as a center. On January 12, 1918, Scott served as both player and coach when his Bulldogs routed Southeastern Christian College 122-2 in a gymnasium that is now used as the Memorial Hall ballroom. Scott’s 62 points in the game have yet to be surpassed by any basketball player to play for the Bulldogs in more than a century. Alfred was a member of the SEC executive committee from 1956-1958. He was inducted into the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame in 1961.
Mark Smith served as superintendent of Bibb County Schools from 1941 through 1958 after spending 22 years in Thomaston in that same role. He is remembered for executing a vital wholesome influence on Georgia prep athletics. Smith also coached football, baseball and basketball during his career. He was football and baseball coach at Americus High in 1917 and 1918 and then moved to Thomaston High from 1919 through 1921 where he coached baseball and basketball. He is a member of the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame.
J.T. Thomas lettered in football, basketball and track at Lanier High School. He led the Poets football team to an undefeated regular season and a 2-AAA regional championship in 1968. J.T. was the first African American to receive a full athletic football scholarship to Florida State. The defensive back recorded 83 tackles, 6 interceptions, and 3 blocked kicks as a freshman. He earned All-American honors as a senior. Thomas was a first round draft choice of the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1973 and played all 15 games during his rookie season. The Steelers claimed 4 Super Bowl titles during Thomas’s career. He teamed with Mel Blount to form one of the best cornerback duos in NFL history. He was named to the Pro Bowl in 1976. He played his final professional season in 1982 with Denver. Thomas is a member of the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame.
INMAN "COOT" VEAL
Inman “Coot” Veal was an All-State basketball player and baseball player at Lanier High School. He played basketball and baseball at Auburn and was named to All SEC team in 1952. Veal played six year in the majors mostly as a utility player and a defensive replacement. He was the first player to bat in the Washington Senators first season. He also played for the Detroit Tigers and Pittsburgh Pirates in the big leagues. Veal was a very good defensive shortstop with an excellent fielding percentage (.976). He had a lifetime batting average of .231, with 141 hits, 26 doubles, three triples, one home run in 611 total at bats and a slugging percentage of .288. He scored 75 runs and drove in 51 in his 247 big-league games. His last year as an active player was 1964.