No. 20 Tom Hammonds, Georgia Tech, 1985-89
Bio: Hammonds was a two-time All-ACC first-team selection – he also made an All-ACC second-team – after averaging 18.9 and 20.9, respectively, in his final two seasons at Tech. He was a third-team All-American as a senior and had his jersey retired at the end of his senior season. Hammonds finished his career with 2,081 points, the fifth highest total in program history.
Why we picked him: Hammonds took over the scoring load after Mark Price graduated and became one of the best players in program history. His number is just one of just six retired in Yellow Jackets’ history.
Others we considered:
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Bruce Benedict, Braves, 1978-89
Benedict played his entire career with the Braves, but he only played in more than 90 games four times in 11 seasons. He hit a career-best .298 in 1983 when he played in a career-high 134 games. He made All-Star teams in 1981 and 1983.
Michael Curry, Georgia Southern, 1986-90
Curry came into his own during his final two seasons in Statesboro, led by his 16.6 point average in 1989-90. He went on to an 11-year career in the NBA.
Stan Drulia, Atlanta Knights, 1992-96
Drulia scored 114 points and won playoff MVP honors in leading Atlanta to the Turner Cup in 1993-94 as champions of the International Hockey League.
Todd Greene, Georgia Southern, 1990-93
Greene is considered by most to be one of the best college baseball players in state history. He hit .344 with 88 home runs in his college career, ranking among the all-time best home-run hitters in NCAA history. He was a four-time All-America selection, including as a freshman when he led Georgia Southern to the College World Series. He played 11 years in the majors and was the guy who caught President George W. Bush’s first pitch in the World Series at Yankee Stadium following the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
Brent Grimes, Falcons, 2007-12
Grimes became a fan favorite in Atlanta as an undersized cornerback. He had six interceptions in 2009 and had another five in 2010. He made his only Pro Bowl in 2010.
Jumaine Jones, Georgia, 1997-99
Jones was the AP SEC Co-Freshman of the Year in 1998 after averaging 14.7 points. He landed on the AP All-SEC team a year later after averaging 18.8 points.
Robert Lavette, Georgia Tech, 1981-84
Georgia Tech has had some special running backs over the past 40 years – Eddie Lee Ivery, Tashard Choice, Joe Burns, P.J. Daniels, Jonathan Dwyer – but none rushed for as many yards as Lavette. Lavette holds career program records for rushing yards (4,066) and touchdowns (45), holding both by significant margins. He also had 207 more carries than any other back in Tech history.
Mark Lemke, Braves, 1988-97
Lemke only played in more than 140 games twice with the Braves, largely because he was a career .246 hitter with very little pop in his bat. But he found a way to come up big in the playoffs. He hit .417 in the 1991 World Series, .333 in the 1992 NCLS and .444 in the 1996 NLCS.
Jerry Mays, Georgia Tech, 1985-89
Mays took over immediately after Lavette graduated and came within 367 yards of breaking Lavette’s career rushing record, although he did have 219 fewer carries. Mays’ best season came as a senior when he rushed for 1,349 yards to earn consensus All-ACC honors and won the Brian Piccolo Award as the ACC’s most courageous player.
Allen Rossum, Falcons, 2002-06
Rossum was his most dangerous as a kick returner with the Falcons. He returned two punts for touchdowns and added a kickoff return touchdown. He made the Pro Bowl in 2004.
No. 21 Dominique Wilkins, Georgia/Hawks, 1979-82 (UGA), 1982-94 (Hawks)
Bio: Known as one of the great dunkers in basketball history, Wilkins played more games and scored more points than any other Hawks’ player. He averaged 21.6 points per game during his second season in the NBA, beginning a string of 11 straight years averaging more than 20 points. He won the NBA scoring title with 30.3 points and finished second in MVP voting in 1985-86 and averaged a career-best 30.7 points in 1987-88. Wilkins made nine All-Star teams in Atlanta. He went into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006 and is 11th in NBA history in career points. At UGA, Wilkins made two All-America teams and remains fourth in program history in points and third in career scoring average. He is the only player in UGA history to have his jersey retired.
Why we picked him: Wilkins would make the pick with his Hawks career alone, but he adds to his legacy also wearing No. 21 at Georgia. He’s one of just two Hall of Famers to spend the majority of their career in Atlanta, joining the Braves’ Phil Niekro.
Others we considered:
Jaymee Carnes, North Georgia, 2011-current
A Wake Forest transfer, Carnes led the nation in scoring and was named Peach Belt Conference Player of the Year and Daktronics NCAA Division II National Player of the Year. She is only the second player in Peach Belt history to lead the nation in scoring.
Jonathan Dwyer, Georgia Tech, 2007-09
Dwyer was a two-time All-ACC pick and rushed for 3,226 yards and 35 touchdowns as a Yellow Jackets’ player. He has two of the top five rushing seasons in program history. He was named ACC Player of the Year in 2008 after rushing for 1,395 yards and 12 touchdowns, joining Joe Hamilton and Calvin Johnson as the only Tech player to earn that distinction. He ranks sixth in career rushing yards and third in rushing touchdowns in Tech history.
DeAngelo Hall, Falcons, 2004-07
The brash and often outspoken cornerback made consecutive Pro Bowls in 2005 and 2006 while posting 10 interceptions during that span. He had 17 interceptions in 55 starts with the Falcons.
Calvin Johnson, Georgia Tech, 2004-06
Johnson is one of just two players in Tech history to earn three first-team All-ACC selections, joining Marco Coleman. He made two All-America teams and was the ACC Player of the Year in 2006 after catching 76 passes for 1,202 yards and 15 touchdowns. He won the Biletnikoff Award as the nation’s top receiver in 2006 and finished 10th in the Heisman Trophy voting. Johnson left Georgia Tech as the career and single-season record holder for yards and touchdowns. Johnson is one of the best receivers in the NFL, making three All-Pro and Pro Bowl teams and breaking the NFL record for single-season receiving yards with 1,964 in 2012.
Roger Kaiser, Georgia Tech, 1958-1961
The first great player in Yellow Jackets’ history, Kaiser averaged 22.8 and 23.4 points during his final two seasons at Tech. He finished his career averaging 20.4 points, the fifth highest career average in program history. He was a two-time All-SEC selection and had his jersey retired at the end of his senior season. He was the SEC Player of the Year in 1961 and earned consensus All-America honors. Kaiser went into the Georgia Tech Athletics Hall of Fame in 1966 and the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame in 1984.
Deion Sanders, Falcons, 1989-93
Sanders is considered one of the greatest cornerbacks in NFL history. He made three Pro Bowls and two All-Pro teams with the Falcons. He had 24 interceptions, returning three for touchdowns. Sanders returned two punts and three kickoffs for touchdowns in Atlanta, leading the NFL in kick return yards and touchdowns in 1992. He also caught two touchdown passes with the Falcons. Sanders made the Pro Football Hall of Fame All-1990s team and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2011.
Kent Schoolfield, Fort Valley State, 1998-2001
Schoolfield was one of the best receivers and punt returners in Division II. He was a two-time candidate for the Harlon Hill Trophy as Division II’s best player. He later played for the Macon Knights.
John Sias, Georgia Tech, 1966-68
Sias left Tech holding every receiving record in program history. He still ranks 11th in receptions (110), eighth in yards (1,727) and 12th in touchdowns (10).
Garret Siler, Augusta State, 2004-09
Siler was a three-time All-Peach Belt selection and led the nation twice in field goal percentage. He finished his career with a NCAA career record (all divisions) with a .745 field-goal percentage. He led the Jaguars to the Division II Final Four twice, and Augusta State played in the national title game in 2008.
Frank Sinkwich, Georgia, 1940-42
Sinkwich became the first player in state history to win the Heisman Trophy when he earned the prestigious award in 1942. The distinction came after he made consecutive All-America teams. He became the first player in UGA history to rush for 1,000 yards and was the only guy to do so until 1976. He would lead the Bulldogs to wins in the Orange Bowl and Rose Bowl in his final two seasons. Sinkwich held the school’s rushing record until Kevin McLee broke the record in 1977. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame (1954), the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame (1964) and the UGA Circle of Honor (1996). His jersey is retired at Georgia. He also made two All-Pro teams with the Detroit Lions in the NFL.
No. 22 John Drew, Hawks, 1974-81
Bio: Drew is fifth in franchise history in points – third among guys who played the majority of their careers in Atlanta. He averaged 21.0 points or more five times and never averaged less than 18.5 points per game in his eight seasons in Atlanta. He averaged a career-best 24.2 points in 1976-77 and made two All-Star teams with the Hawks. Drew eventually netted the Hawks the best player in franchise history when he was traded to the Utah Jazz for Dominique Wilkins. Drew earned a lifetime ban from the NBA for violating the league’s drug policy.
Why we picked him: Drew is the middle guy in the Hawks’ triumvirate of scorers, sandwiched between Lou Hudson and Dominique Wilkins. Not only was Drew a great player for the Hawks, but the franchise found a way to spin him for the greatest player in franchise history.
Others we considered:
Tyrekus Bowman, Augusta State, 2004-08
Bowman was named the Atlanta Tipoff Club’s Georgia Men’s College Player of the Year in 2007 and was the first Augusta State player to make an All-America team in more than 35 years. He was the Peach Belt Player of the Year in 2007 after averaging 20.4 points per game. He made a second All-America team and had his number record in 2009.
James Butler, Georgia Tech, 2001-04
The hard-hitting safety was a two-time All-ACC selection. He finished his career with 240 tackles, fifth most in Tech history among defensive backs. His 119 tackles in 2003 set the program record for single-season tackles by a defensive back. He later had a seven-year NFL career.
Tashard Choice, Georgia Tech, 2005-07
The Oklahoma transfer was a two-time All-ACC pick and finished his career fourth in Tech history with 3,365 yards. He added 28 touchdowns, sixth in Tech history. Choice rushed for 1,473 yards – second highest total in Tech history – in 2006 to go along with nine 100-yard games during that season. He followed that with 1,379 yards – sixth best in Tech history – in 2007 despite battling leg injuries.
Olandis Gary, Georgia, 1997-98
Like Terrell Davis before him, Gary had a solid college career (1,079 yards and 17 touchdowns in two seasons) before making a bigger impact in the pros. Gary rushed for 1,159 yards and seven touchdowns as rookie for the Denver Broncos.
Marcus Giles, Braves, 2001-06
Giles hit 72 home runs and knocked in 274 runs in six seasons in Atlanta, with four as a regular starter. He hit .290 or better in three seasons as the regular second baseman. He made his only All-Star appearance in 2003.
Rolland Lawrence, Falcons, 1973-80
Lawrence, not Deion Sanders, Scott Case or Bobby Butler, holds the franchise record for interceptions. He had 39, which is eight more than the next most in franchise history. He had six or more interceptions in five consecutive seasons beginning in 1975. He made the Pro Bowl and earned All-Pro honors in 1977.
John Salley, Georgia Tech, 1982-86
Salley teamed up with Mark Price to morph Georgia Tech into a basketball power. He averaged more than 11 points all four seasons, including 14.0 and 13.1 in his final two seasons. He was a two-time All-ACC second-team pick and a second-team All-American in 1986. His jersey was retired at the end of his senior season, and he was inducted into the Georgia Tech Athletics Hall of Fame in 1991. Salley had a long NBA career and was a part of four NBA championship teams.
Chester Webb, Georgia Southern, 1952-56
Webb holds the program’s all-time and single-season scoring records. He averaged 30.5 points per game. His jersey was retired in 2010.
Dez White, Georgia Tech, 1997-99
White is one of the best big-play receivers in Tech history. He holds the program record for career yards per catch at 20.4. He’s seventh in Tech history with 1,833 yards and fourth with 14 touchdowns. He was a two-time All-ACC second-team selection.
No. 23 Lou Hudson, Hawks, 1968-77
Bio: Hudson started the progression of great scoring Hawks players that followed with John Drew and Dominique Wilkins. Hudson averaged 21 points or more in each of his first seven seasons in Atlanta. He averaged 25 or more points four different times and ranks second in Atlanta Hawks history in scoring behind Wilkins – third overall in franchise history. Hudson made six consecutive All-Star teams, equaling Joe Johnson for most in franchise history behind Wilkins and Bob Pettit.
Why we picked him: The competition at 23 is stiff: Hudson and David Justice are both memorable pro athletes in Atlanta sports history, while Randy Rhino is a rare three-time All-American. What separates Hudson from the others: he’s one of the top five players in Atlanta Hawks’ history.
Others we considered:
Bobby Butler, Falcons, 1981-92
Butler ranks sixth in franchise history with 27 career interceptions. He was the primary starter at left cornerback for nine seasons.
Tim Jennings, Georgia, 2002-05
Jennings had 10 interceptions in 30 starts over his four seasons at UGA, earning All-SEC honors after making 56 tackles and four interceptions as a senior. Jennings has come into his own as a professional, earning Pro Bowl honors with the Chicago Bears in 2012.
David Justice, Braves, 1989-96
Justice took over the mantle of power-hitting outfield after Dale Murphy was traded to Philadelphia. He hit 28 home runs in his first season as a starter, the first of five 20-plus home run seasons with the Braves. He hit 40 home runs with 120 RBI in 1993. Justice’s biggest moment came with his solo home run in a 1-0 win in Game 6 of the World Series to clinch the Braves’ only world championship. He won the 1990 NL Rookie of the Year award and earned All-Star selections in 1993 and 1994.
Anthony Morrow, Georgia Tech, 2004-08
Morrow was one of those guys who became a better pro than he was a college player. He averaged 11.4 points overall at Tech and 16.0 as a sophomore. He was one of the best 3-point shooters in the NBA over his first four seasons in the league.
Nick Price, West Georgia, 1998-2001
Price made three All-Gulf South Conference teams and holds most of West Georgia’s rushing records. He holds the program record with 14 career 100-yard games, 42 career touchdowns and the single-game, season and career rushing yardage marks.
Randy Rhino, Georgia Tech, 1971-74
Rhino is the only player in Tech history to make three consecutive All-America teams. He was a consensus selection in 1973 and made the Walter Camp team (1974) and the Football Writers Association of America (1972) in the other years. The second in three generation of Tech players, Rhino is tied for second in program history with 14 career interceptions. Rhino also remains third in program history in punt return average for his career.
Mark Teixeira, Georgia Tech, 1999-2000
Teixeira was ACC Freshman of the Year in 1999 and ACC Player of the Year just one year later. He was a two-time All-ACC and All-America selection. Teixeira joins Jason Varitek as the only Tech baseball players to be named national player of the year when he received the honor from Baseball America and The Sporting News in 2000. He made the ACC 50th Anniversary Team. Teixeira has hit 341 home runs and made two All-Star teams in an 11-year pro career that included a one-year stint with the Braves.
C.J. Williams, Georgia Tech, 1994-96
Williams ranks ninth in Tech history with 2,365 career yards and 11th with 20 career touchdowns. Williams also played for the basketball team.
No. 24 Lindsay Scott, Georgia, 1978-81
Bio: Scott was a reliable receiving option for all four seasons he spent at Georgia. He had more than 500 receiving yards in three different seasons, leading the team in receiving each of those years. He had a career-best 728 yards and six touchdowns in 1981, the year he was also an All-SEC pick. Scott left UGA as the leading receiver in program history. He now ranks sixth with 2,098 yards. Scott’s most famous moment came on his 75-yard touchdown reception from Buck Belue to beat Florida in 1980 and help keep the Bulldogs alive in the national championship race.
Why we picked him: He didn’t have the career numbers comparable to Knowshon Moreno, but Scott was a talented weapon in Georgia’s run to a national title. He also represents one half of arguably the most famous play in UGA history.
Others we considered:
Jarvis Hayes, Georgia, 2001-03
Hayes became the first UGA player to make consecutive All-SEC first teams since Litterial Green accomplished the feat in 1992 and was the first player to earn AP and coaches first-team honors in consecutive years since Vern Fleming in 1983 and 1984. The Western Carolina transfer averaged 18.4 points at UGA, which is the fourth career average in program history by Dominique Wilkins, Bob Lienhard and Jacky Dorsey.
Terrence Hill, Kennesaw State, 2002-04
Hill led Kennesaw State to the 2004 NCAA Division II national championship, scoring 26 points in the championship game victory over Southern Indiana. He was a two-time Peach Belt Conference Player of the Year. He averaged 16.2 points per game over his career.
Horace King, Georgia, 1971-74
King started two seasons at flanker and another season at running back. He earned second-team All-SEC honors as a senior. He rushed for 1,287 yards and 19 touchdowns in three seasons while catching 27 passes for 386 yards and a touchdown.
Marvin Lewis, Georgia Tech, 2000-04
No player has played more basketball games in a Georgia Tech uniform than Lewis. The Maryland native scored in double figures in each of his final three years at Tech, including 11 points per game during the Yellow Jackets run to the national title game in 2004.
Derek Lilliquist, Georgia, 1985-87
Lilliquist was a consensus All-American and was named Baseball America’s National Pitcher of the Year in 1987 after going 14-3 with a 2.24 ERA. He helped lead the Bulldogs to their first College World Series and later became a first-round draft pick. He played for the Braves in 1989 and 1990 and currently serves as the pitching coach for the St. Louis Cardinals.
Knowshon Moreno, Georgia, 2007-08
Moreno rushed for 1,334 yards and 14 touchdowns as a freshman and followed with 1,400 yards and 16 touchdowns as a sophomore before declaring for the NFL draft. He also caught 53 passes for 645 yards and two touchdowns. His two seasons are two of the top seven in program history. Despite playing only two seasons, Moreno ranks fourth in program history in rushing yards. He was on pace to break Herschel Walker’s career rushing and touchdown records before leaving. He is the only other Georgia player besides Walker to average more than 100 rushing yards per game during his career. He was a two-time All-SEC pick and an All-American in 2008.
Kaizer Moutang, Atlanta Chiefs, 1968-71
Moutang scored 32 goals in 63 games with the Chiefs and earning North American Soccer League Rookie of the Year honors. He scored two goals off the bench against Manchester City in his debut and finished with a league-leading 16 in 1968. Moutang is most well known worldwide for starting South Africa’s most prestigious soccer club, the Kaizer Chiefs.
Deion Sanders, Braves, 1991-94
Sanders split time with the Falcons, which likely limited his full potential in baseball. He did hit .304 with a league-best 14 triples in 1992. He hit .277 with 75 stolen bases and never had more than 305 at bats in a single season.
Phil Wagner, Georgia Tech, 1965-68
Wagner averaged 19.5 and 19.6 points per game, respectively, in his final two seasons at Tech. He averaged 17.7 points for his career and went into the Georgia Tech Athletics Hall of Fame in 1973.
Jim Wood, Georgia Tech, 1973-77
Wood averaged double figures in scoring all four seasons at Tech. He averaged 13.8 points for his career and was inducted into the Georgia Tech Athletics Hall of Fame in 1985.
No. 25 Mark Price, Georgia Tech, 1982-86
Bio: Arguably the greatest player in Tech history, Price averaged more than 15 points per game in each of his four seasons, and that average came while sharing the ball with guys like John Salley, Bruce Dalrymple, Duane Ferrell and Tom Hammonds. Price played one season with the 3-point line – his freshman year – and averaged 20.3 points per game. It’s hard to determine how many points Price would have averaged had he played with the 3-point line his final three seasons. He was a three-time first-team All-ACC pick, a three-time All-American, the ACC Rookie of the Year in 1983, the ACC Player of the Year in 1985 and a finalist for the Wooden and Naismith awards as the best player in college basketball in 1986. Price’s No. 25 is retired both at Georgia Tech and with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Why we picked him: Picking between Price and Andruw Jones as the greatest to wear No. 25 in state history is a nearly impossible decision. We gave the edge to Price because a strong argument could be made that without Price, Georgia Tech never reaches the height it did over the 20-year period that included two Final Four appearances. Head coach Bobby Cremins used Price as his linchpin for landing other top-notch prospects and building a powerful program.
Others we considered:
James Banks, Georgia, 1980-84
Banks is 11th in program history with 1,430 points (11.4 per game). The four-year starter was second on the team in scoring with 14 per game during the Bulldogs’ Final Four run in 1983.
Rico Carty, Braves, 1966-72
Carty hit 109 home runs and knocked in 451 runs with a .317 average with the Braves. He hit .342 in 1969 and then led the NL with a .366 average in 1970. He also hit 25 home runs and knocked in 101 runs in 1970 to earn his only All-Star selection.
Scott Case, Falcons, 1984-94
Case set the franchise record with 10 interceptions in 1988, which earned him a selection to the Pro Bowl. He finished his career with 960 tackles and 30 interceptions (fourth most in franchise history). Case is seventh in Falcons history in games played.
Glynn Harrison, Georgia, 1973-75
Harrison rushed for 959 yards and four touchdowns in 1974 and followed that with 894 yards and five touchdowns a year later. He was a two-time All-SEC selection.
Bill Hartman, Georgia, 1935-37
Hartman played both fullback and linebacker and earned All-America and All-SEC honors in 1937. He went into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1984 and the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame in 1991.
Andruw Jones, Braves, 1996-2007
Jones was a teenage sensation when he joined the Braves late in 1996. He became a full-time starter a year later and began a torrid run. He became the first Atlanta Braves player to hit 25 or more home runs for 10 straight seasons. He hit 30 or more homers in seven of those seasons. He hit 51 home runs with 128 RBI in 2005 and followed that with 41 home runs and 129 RBI in 2006. He hit 368 home runs and 1,117 RBI as a Braves player, earning five All-Star appearances and winning 10 Gold Gloves in 11 full seasons with the Braves.
Greg Lester, Georgia Tech, 1987-91
Lester was one of the go-to receivers on Tech’s national championship team in 1990. He remains 14th in Tech history in receptions (93), 11th in receiving yards (1,633) and seventh in touchdowns (13).
Doc Rivers, Hawks, 1983-91
Rivers holds the franchise record for career assists, and he’s third in steals. Rivers averaged 13 points, 6.8 assists and 2.1 steals per game with the Hawks and made the All-Star team in 1988. He averaged a career-high 15.2 points in his final season in Atlanta. Rivers is a successful NBA coach, winning a championship with the Boston Celtics in 2008.
Carlos Strong, Georgia, 1992-96
Strong is 12th in program history with 1,414 points (12 per game) and eighth in career rebounds.
Orlando Wiley, Fort Valley State, 1998-2001
Wiley was the SIAC Player of the Year after rushing for 1,400 yards and 16 touchdowns in 2001. He was a South Region candidate for the Harlon Hill Trophy in 2001.
No. 26 Gene Garber, Braves, 1978-87
Bio: Garber served as the Braves’ primary closer in four of his seasons in Atlanta. He had 22 saves in 1978 and 25 a year later. He returned to the role in 1982, saving 30 games and finishing seventh in Cy Young voting. He added another 24 saves in as a 38-year-old closer in 1986. He’s second to John Smoltz in franchise history with 141 saves. Garber finished with a 3.34 ERA in 10 seasons in Atlanta. Garber etched himself in baseball history when he snapped Pete Rose’s 44-game hitting streak in 1978. Garber remains in the top 20 in baseball history in appearances.
Why we picked him: Uggla is a big name and, at times, possesses an impact bat. But he has been a disappointment to many, hitting well below his career average since joining the Braves. Garber was a big piece of the Braves bullpen for a decade and was the franchise’s greatest closer in the first 30 years after moving to Atlanta.
Others we considered:
John Bond, Georgia, 1933-35
Bond led the Bulldogs to a 21-9 record in his career and earned All-America honors in 1935. He went into the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame in 1992.
Ben Smith, Georgia, 1986-89
The Warner Robins native made 31 starts at defensive back. Smith had 10 interceptions – the second highest single-season total in UGA history – in 1989 and was named permanent captain. He was a two-time All-SEC selection and is fifth in program history with 13 interceptions. Smith was a first-team pick in the 1990 NFL draft.
Dan Uggla, Braves, 2011-current
The Braves haven’t gotten the same Uggla that was an all-star regular with the Florida Marlins. But the second baseman still has 76 home runs and counting in Atlanta. He hit 36 his first season with the Braves, but batting average and strikeouts have remained issues. He made the 2012 All-Star game.
No. 27 Fred McGriff, Braves, 1993-97
Bio: Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium literally caught fire when McGriff arrived in 1993. The “Crime Dog” hit 19 home runs and knocked in 55 runs in half a season with the Braves. He hit 25 home runs or more in each of the next three seasons, including 28 with 93 RBI as the Braves won the World Series in 1995. He hit 130 home runs with 446 RBI and had a .293 average in his five seasons with the Braves. McGriff made three All-Star appearances with the Braves and won the 1994 All-Star Game MVP.
Why we picked him: McGriff’s place in Georgia sports history is cemented by his impact following his trade to the Braves in 1993. The press box at Atlanta-Fulton County stadium caught on fire the day McGriff arrived. He hit a game-tying home run to help the Braves win and send them on a run to finish the season 51-19. Some trades during the John Schuerholz era didn’t pan out. This one did, and McGriff was the product of the one of the best trades in Atlanta sports over the past 25 years.
Others we considered:
Kevin Brown, Georgia Tech, 1984-86
Brown was the first Tech to receive first-team All-America honors and was the first Yellow Jackets player drafted in the first round. He led Tech in strikeouts twice and in wins all three seasons. Brown went into the Georgia Tech Athletics Hall of Fame in 1991 and went on to win a World Series and make six All-Star teams.
Joe Caldwell, Hawks, 1968-70
Caldwell came to Atlanta when the Hawks moved to St. Louis and averaged 15.8 and 21.1 points, respectively, in his two seasons in Atlanta. He made the All-Star team in both seasons.
Tom Hayes, Falcons, 1971-75
Hayes had 17 interceptions in five seasons as a starter with the Falcons.
Corey Johnson, Georgia, 1993-96
Johnson was one of the best tackling safeties in school history. He stands 15th in UGA history with 306 total tackles, ranking second behind only John Little among defensive backs. He was a two-time All-SEC second team pick by the coaches and made 33 career starts.
Jeremy Muyres, Georgia Tech, 1999-2002
Muyres was a two-time All-ACC second-team selection. He finished his career with 273 tackles – most by a defensive back in Tech history – and 12 interceptions – tied for eighth most in program history.
Zaza Pachulia, Hawks, 2005-13
Pachulia was more of a fan favorite than an impactful player with the Hawks. After starting 78 games in his first year in Atlanta, he never started more than 50 games in a season. He is seventh in franchise history in offensive rebounds.
Pascual Perez, Braves, 1982-85
Most well-known for getting lost on 285 before a game, Perez went 29-16 over a two-year span (1983-84), making the All-Star team in 1983.
Tom Pridemore, Falcons, 1978-85
Pridemore is eighth in franchise history with 21 interceptions. He had a career high seven in 1981 and managed at least one interception in all eight seasons in the NFL.
Lonnie Smith, Braves, 1988-92
Smith had two solid seasons as an everyday player beginning in 1989 when he hit .315 with 21 home runs and finished 11th in MVP voting. He hit .291 with 46 home runs with the Braves.
Eric Vail, Atlanta Flames, 1973-80
Vail was arguably the best player in Flames history. He earned the Calder Memorial Trophy as NHL rookie of the year and earned selection into the 1977 NHL All-Star Game. He scored 174 goals, a record among Atlanta Flames players.
No. 28 Warrick Dunn, Falcons, 2002-07
Bio: Dunn led the Falcons in rushing in five of his six years with the franchise. He rushed for 1,416 yards in 2005, which is still the fifth highest single-season total in franchise history. Dunn rushed for more than 1,000 yards two other times with the Falcons. He made his third and final Pro Bowl in 2005. Dunn ranks fourth in Falcons history with 5,981 yards and fourth with 30 touchdowns.
Why we picked him: Because he played with the attention-grabbing and flashier Michael Vick, Dunn may not receive the attention he deserves. He was an extremely reliable option for six seasons and was the real force behind a Falcons’ rushing attack that ranked near the top of the NFL during his time in Atlanta.
Others we considered:
Herb St. John, Georgia, 1944-47
St. John was a four-time All-SEC selection and earned All-America honors from the NCAA Guide in 1946. He later led the Perry High School football program for 16 seasons.
Bobby Kimmel, Georgia Tech, 1954-57
Kimmel was a two-time All-SEC pick who averaged 16 points over his final three college seasons. He was inducted into the Georgia Tech Athletics Hall of Fame in 1963.
Gerald Perry, Braves, 1983-89
Perry had his best season in 1987, hitting .270 with 12 home runs, 74 RBI and 42 stolen bases. He made his only All-Star appearance in 1988.
Victor Roache, Georgia Southern, 2010-12
Roache was a first-team All-America pick after hitting 30 home runs to lead the NCAAA in 2011. He was selected in the first round of the 2012 MLB draft by the Milwaukee Brewers.
No. 29 John Smoltz, Braves, 1988-2008
Bio: Smoltz was there for the Braves’ rise, joining the team in 1988 after being traded for Doyle Alexander. He was in the rotation for two full seasons before the Braves began their playoff run in 1991. He won 14 or more games in 10 different seasons, led by a 24-8 mark in 1996 to win the Cy Young Award. Smoltz moved to the bullpen in 2001, saving an NL-best 55 games in 2002. He saved 45 and 44 games the next two seasons before returning to the rotation in 2005. His 154 saves are the most in franchise history. He went 210-147 with a 3.26 ERA with the Braves. He is one of only 16 pitchers in baseball history with 3,000 strikeouts and led the NL in strikeouts twice. He made eight All-Star teams, won the 1992 NLCS MVP, the 2002 NL Rolaids Relief Award, 2005 Lou Gerhig Award, the 2005 Roberto Clemente Award and the 2007 Branch Rickey Award.
Why we picked him: Smoltz is the most versatile pitcher in Braves history and maybe one of the most in baseball history.
Others we considered:
Felipe Alou, Braves, 1966-69
Alou was one of the better hitters in baseball during his four seasons in Atlanta. He led the NL in hits twice – 218 and 210 hits – and batted .327 in 1966 and .317 in 1968. He also hit a career-high 31 home runs in 1966 and knocked in 74 runs. He finished fifth in MVP voting in 1966 and made All-Star teams in 1966 and 1968.
Jarvis Jones, Georgia, 2011-12
Jones earned consensus All-America and All-SEC honors twice. He led the SEC with 13.5 sacks in 2011 and finished with a school-record 14.5 sacks in 2012. He was a finalist for the Lombardi, Nagurski, Bednarik, Butkus and Lott Awards in 2012, and he won the AP SEC Defensive Player of the Year award and finished 10th in Heisman Trophy voting. The Columbus native finished third in UGA history just eight sacks off David Pollack’s program record despite playing in two fewer seasons.
Craig McMurtry, Braves, 1983-86McMurtry had one solid season with the Braves, going 15-9 with a 3.08 ERA in 1983 while finishing seventh in Cy Young voting.