No. 10 Chipper Jones, Braves, 1993-2012
Bio: The Braves selected Jones with the No. 1 overall pick in 1990 mostly because projected top pick Todd Van Poppel said he didn’t want to play for Atlanta. Twenty-three years later, Jones watched as the Braves retired his number, honoring one of the greatest third basemen in history. He hit 468 home runs with 1,623 RBI and 2,726 hits. No player tops Jones in Atlanta Braves history, while only Hank Aaron tops him in those categories in franchise history. He made eight All-Star teams, won the 1999 NL MVP, two Silver Slugger awards and the 2008 NL batting title. Only Mickey Mantle and Eddie Murray hit more home runs among switch hitters.
Why we picked him: While some of the greats in Georgia sports history wore No. 10, Jones is the clear choice. Many consider Jones one of the greatest switch hitters and third basemen in baseball history. Most baseball fans would be shocked if Jones doesn’t go into the Baseball Hall of Fame when becomes eligible in 2018.
Others we considered:
Drew Barry, Georgia Tech, 1992-96
He isn’t the most high-profile point guard in Tech history, but Barry holds the program record for assists. He led the ACC in assists three straight years, made the ACC All-Freshman team and earned All-ACC second-team honors in 1996. He averaged 13 points or more in both of his last two seasons.
Steve Bartkowski, Falcons, 1975-85
The original franchise quarterback holds Falcons record for career passing yards (23,470) and touchdowns (154). He made two Pro Bowls and had back-to-back 30-touchdown seasons in 1980 and 1981 (not a coincidence that these were his only two seasons with 16 starts). He’s one of two quarterbacks in franchise history to lead the team to three playoff appearances.
Mookie Blaylock, Hawks, 1992-99
Blaylock spent the best years of his NBA career in Atlanta, starring at point guard for eight years. An All-Star in 1994, Blaylock was one of the best defensive guards in the NBA, leading the league in steals per game twice. He ranks 11th in NBA history in career steals. Blaylock ranks first in franchise history in 3-pointers made and steals and second in assists.
Chris Chambliss, Braves, 1980-86
Chambliss played seven seasons in Atlanta, hitting 18 or more home runs three times. He finished with 80 home runs and 366 RBI with a .272 batting average.
Thomas Davis, Georgia, 2002-04
Davis started 29 games at Georgia, recording 272 tackles, 17 tackles for loss and 10.5 sacks. He led the team in tackles twice and helped the Bulldogs have three straight seasons with 10 or more wins and top six finishes nationally. He was a consensus two-time All-SEC pick and an All-America selection (Coaches, Walter Camp and The Sporting News) in 2004.
Vern Fleming, Georgia, 1981-84
Fleming was a two-time All-SEC pick who led the Bulldogs to their only Final Four. He was an All-American in 1983 after averaging 16.9 points. He boosted his scoring average to 19.8 points as a senior. Fleming finished as the program’s all-time leading scorer, and he now ranks third behind Litterial Green and Alec Kessler.
Greg Hill, Georgia Southern, 1996-99
Hill was named Southern Conference Player of the Year in 1999 to help lead the Eagles to their fifth national championship. He rushed for 3,309 yards in his career, ranking sixth in program history. He’s also third in passing yards with 3,369 yards.
Shawn Jones, Georgia Tech, 1989-92
One of the best quarterbacks in Tech history, Jones passed for 8,441 yards and 51touchdowns in his career, placing him second in program history in yards and third in touchdowns. He was a two-time All-ACC pick and was the ACC Rookie of the Year in 1989. He passed for 2,008 yards and 13 touchdowns to lead Georgia Tech to the national championship in 1990. He was a finalist for the Davey O’Brien Award and the Johnny Unitas Award.
Craig Neal, Georgia Tech, 1983-88
“Noodles” replaced Mark Price and earned All-ACC third-team honors in 1989. He holds the Tech record for single-game and single-season assists.
Greg Olson, Braves, 1990-93
The fan favorite played four seasons with the Braves, making the All-Star team in 1990. He was the last everyday player to wear No. 10 before Chopper Jones.
Saudia Roundtree, Georgia, 1994-96
Roundtree was an All-American and the Naismith College Player of the Year in 1996 and led the Bulldogs to the Final Four. She averaged 16.7 points to lead UGA to the national title game and finished with 1,000 points despite playing just two seasons.
Fran Tarkenton, Georgia, 1958-60
Tarkenton was an AP All-American in 1960 after leading the SEC in total offense and passing yards. He passed for 1,925 yards over his final two seasons. Tarkenton became one of the great quarterbacks in NFL history, leading the Minnesota Vikings to three Super Bowls. He passed for 47,003 yards and 342 touchdowns in the NFL. He is a member of both the College and Pro Football Halls of Fame.
Randy Wittman, Hawks, 1983-88
Wittman played with the Hawks for six seasons, but his best two seasons came in 1985-86 and 1986-87 when he averaged 12.9 and 12.7 points, respectively.
Eric Zeier, Georgia, 1991-94
Zeier re-wrote the UGA passing record book in becoming the first four-year starter in program history. He was a three-time second-team All-SEC pick. Zeier left school with the UGA record for touchdown passes (67) and the SEC record holder for career yards (11,153) and total yards (11,056). David Greene broke both records a decade after Zeier set them.
No. 11 Aaron Murray, Georgia, 2010-current
Bio: Provided he stays healthy in 2013, Murray is poised to shatter UGA and SEC passing records. Murray already holds the UGA record with 95 touchdown passes (23 more than David Greene). He ranks second to Greene with 10,091 career passing yards (he’s just 1,427 yards behind Greene’s UGA and SEC career record). If and when he breaks Greene’s record, UGA will have the top three passers in SEC history. Murray remains 19 touchdowns behind Danny Wuerffel for the SEC career record. Murray could also eclipse Tim Tebow’s SEC record for career total yardage (he’s 1,939 behind the former Florida quarterback).
Why we picked him: From a statistical perspective, Murray deserves to be mentioned alongside Eric Zeier and Greene already. With the assumption that he stays healthy and breaks UGA and SEC records, Murray deserves to be included even though he’s the only current college player selected in the entire Numbers Game II.
Others we considered:
John Dewberry, Georgia Tech, 1983-85
Dewberry passed for 1,846 yards to earn All-ACC honors in 1984. He finished his Tech career second in program history with 4,193 yards and 27 touchdowns. He now ranks sixth in passing yards and touchdowns.
Darrell Evans, Braves, 1969-76
Evans started his career with the Braves and, even though he’d hit more home runs elsewhere, still clocked 131 homers in nine seasons in Atlanta. He hit a career-high 41 home runs in 1973, earning him his only All-Star selection as a Braves player.
George Godsey, Georgia Tech, 1998-2001
Godsey had tremendous schools to fill when he replaced Joe Hamilton. He did just fine, making an All-ACC team and leading Tech to consecutive bowls. He passed for 6,137 yards and 41 touchdowns (both fourth in Tech history). All three guys above him on the list started for three or more seasons, while Godsey started just two years. He passed for a school-record 3,085 yards in 2001 coming off an ACL tear against LSU in the Chick-fil-A Bowl the year before.
Litterial Green, Georgia, 1988-92
Green is the all-time leading scorer in UGA history. The three-time All-SEC pick scored 2,111 career points (17.7 per game average), which is 323 more than the next closest guy.
Raymond Gross, Georgia Southern, 1987-90
Second to only Tracy Ham in the pantheon of Eagles’ quarterbacks, Gross led Georgia Southern to national championships in 1989 and 1990. Gross went 44-8 as a starter. He rushed for 2,290 career yards and ranks among the leaders in both passing and rushing in school history.
Leon Hardeman, Georgia Tech, 1951-53
An All-American and SEC Player of the Year in 1952, Hardeman held Tech’s career rushing record for 21 years. He finished his career with 1,794 yards and 22 touchdowns.
Zippy Morocco, Georgia, 1949-52
Morocco was Georgia’s first basketball All-American, making the Helms’ team in 1953 after leading the SEC in scoring. He was named SEC Player of the Year after averaging 23.1 points. Morocco played for the Minneapolis Lakers in the NBA and also was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFL. He led UGA in receiving in 1950.
Matt Nagy, Georgia Force, 2005-06
Nagy led the Force to the Arena Bowl in 2005 after passing for 3,003 yards and 66 touchdowns with 10 interceptions. He followed that with 4,265 yards and 85 touchdowns with 11 interceptions in 2006. He’s current the quarterbacks coach for the Kansas City Chiefs.
Edgar Renteria, Braves, 2006-07
Renteria had two really solid seasons with the Braves, hitting .332 in 2007. Renteria made the All-Star team in 2006.
Gary Sheffield, Braves, 2002-03
Like Renteria, Sheffield only spent two years in Atlanta. He had only of the best hitting seasons in Braves history in 2003, hitting .330 with 39 home runs, 190 hits, 132 RBI and 18 stolen bases. He also hit 25 home runs in 2002. Sheffield was an all-star in 2003 and finished third in NL MVP voting.
No. 12 Kenny Anderson, Georgia Tech, 1989-91
Bio: Anderson is arguably one of the two best players of the Bobby Cremins’ era (along with Mark Price). Anderson was a consensus All-American and All-ACC selection after averaging 25.9 points in 1991. He helped lead the Yellow Jackets to their first Final Four as a freshman in 1990 while averaging 20.6 points and winning the ACC Rookie of the Year and national freshman of the year honors from the UPI. The two-time All-ACC pick holds the Tech record for 50 points in a single game. He averaged 23.0 points per game and became the second overall pick in the 1991 NBA draft.
Why we picked him: Anderson helped usher in the second great period of Yellow Jackets’ basketball under Cremins. He may be the best scorer in the history of Tech basketball.
Others we considered:
Zeke Bratkowski, Georgia, 1951-53
Bratkowski landed on All-America teams in both 1952 and 1953, leading the SEC in passing both seasons. He also led the nation in passing in 1952 and punting in 1953. Bratkowski’s career passing record (4,863) stood for 40 years until Eric Zeier broke it in 1993. He also has the dubious distinction of holding the SEC record for single-season interceptions (29) and career interceptions (68).
Sid Bream, Braves, 1991-93
It’s funny that Bream, probably one of the slower players in Braves history, is most known for his legs. He hit .258 over three seasons, but his biggest moment came when he scored from second in the bottom of the ninth inning in Game 7 of the 1992 NLCS, sending the Braves to the World Series.
Chris Chandler, Falcons, 1997-2001
Prior to the arrival of Matt Ryan, an argument could be made asserting Chandler was the second best quarterback in franchise history behind Steve Bartkowski. He passed for 3,154 yards and 25 touchdowns during the Falcons’ Super Bowl season in 1998. He made the Pro Bowl in each of his first two seasons in Atlanta. Chandler is fourth in franchise history in passing yards (13,268) and tied for third with 87 touchdown passes.
Tavarres King, Georgia, 2008-12
King led the Bulldogs in receiving twice, including a career-high 950 yards in 2012 (fourth highest single season total in program history). King stands fourth in UGA history with 2,602 career yards and third with 21 career touchdown catches.
Dorsey Levens, Georgia Tech, 1992-93
Levens transferred from Notre Dame and, while he didn’t make a huge impact at Tech, rushed for 1,036 yards and 10 touchdowns in two seasons.
Chris Miller, Falcons, 1987-93
Miller took the Falcons to the playoffs in 1991, ending a nine-year playoff drought. He also became the second quarterback in franchise history to win a playoff game when the Falcons beat the Saints in the 1991 playoffs. He made the Pro Bowl following the 1991 season. Miller is third in franchise history in career passing yards and passing touchdowns.
Luke Schenscher, Georgia Tech, 2001-05
Schenscher was never a dominant player, but the 7-footer was literally the most visible player on the Yellow Jackets during their run to the national championship game in 2004. He averaged 9.2 and 10.1 points per game over his final two college seasons.
No. 13 Jake Scott, Georgia, 1967-68
Bio: Georgia has been blessed with great safeties over the years, but Scott may be the best. He had 16 career interceptions, a record that stood for 44 years before Bacarri Rambo tied it in 2012. Scott, however, did his damage in just two seasons. He earned consensus All-America honors in 1968 after setting the school record with 10 interceptions. Terry Hoage is the only player in program history to have more than Scott in a season. Scott also led the Bulldogs and the SEC with six interceptions in 1967, and he led the SEC in punt returns and return yards in 1968. Scott made five consecutive Pro Bowls with the Miami Dolphins and was named MVP of Super Bowl VII in 1972. He’s a member of the College Football and Georgia Sports Halls of Fame.
Why we picked him: It takes a lot to stand out among the history of Georgia defensive backs, but Scott may be the best. He numbers and accolades are impressive, even more so considering he only played two years in Athens.
Others we considered:
Drew Butler, Georgia, 2008-11
The greatest punter in UGA history holds the career record for average (45.4) and net average (41.9). He was a consensus All-American as a sophomore and earned the Ray Guy Award as the nation’s top punter, leading the nation with a 48.1 yard average (which is also the UGA single-season record).
Brian Oliver, Georgia Tech, 1986-90
The least-ballyhooed member of “Lethal Weapon 3” was a two-time All-ACC second-team selection. He was the ACC Tournament MVP in 1990 as he helped lead Tech to its first Final Four. He averaged a career-best 21.3 points as a senior, giving the Yellow Jackets three guys with more than 20 points per game. Oliver, who went into the Georgia Tech Athletics Hall of Fame in 2000, is the only player in program history with 1,000 points, 500 rebounds and 500 assists. He’s eighth in school history in scoring.
Vernon “Catfish” Smith, Georgia, 1929-32
Smith was a multi-sport star at UGA, playing baseball, basketball and football. He was a four-year letterman and a three-time All-Southern Conference selection. Smith famously scored all of Georgia’s points in a 15-0 win over Yale in the first ever game at Sanford Stadium. The Macon native went into the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame in 1956.
Billy Wagner, Braves, 2010
Wagner saved 37 games with a 7-2 record and a 1.43 ERA in his only season in Atlanta. He made the All-Star team, but perhaps most importantly served as a mentor for the Braves current dominant closer Craig Kimbrel.
Tevin Washington, Georgia Tech, 2009-12
Washington’s gaudy numbers are certainly helped by playing in Paul Johnson’s option offense. He’s 11th in program history with 2,224 rushing yards – second-most by a quarterback – and second with 38 career touchdowns. Washington broke Robert Lavette’s program record of single-season touchdown runs with 20 in 2012. He finished eighth in career passing yards (3,312) and ninth in career passing touchdowns (21).
No. 14 Joe Hamilton, Georgia Tech, 1996-99
Bio: The greatest quarterback in Yellow Jackets’ history passed for 8,882 yards and 65 touchdowns – both Tech records – in his career. He passed for 3,060 yards and a Tech-record 29 touchdowns as a senior in 1999. He earned consensus All-America honors – the only quarterback in Tech history to do so – and was also the first guy in program history to be named ACC Player of the Year. The two-time All-ACC pick won the Davey O’Brien Award and was a finalist for the Johnny Unitas and Maxwell Awards. He finished second to Ron Dayne in the Heisman Trophy voting in 1999. He was the ACC Male Athlete of the Year in 2000 and landed on the ACC 50th Anniversary Team.
Why we picked him: Hamilton is arguably the greatest football player in Georgia Tech history. He certainly didn’t have the team success that David Greene or Terry Hoage enjoyed, but his teams weren’t as talented as those Georgia teams. Both Hamilton and Hoage were All-Americans, but it was Hamilton who won a national award and finished second in the Heisman voting. This is perhaps the toughest choice in the entire Numbers Game II.
Others we considered:
Jon Barry, Georgia Tech, 1990-92
Barry scored 1,080 in just two seasons at Georgia Tech. He averaged 16.6 points over those two seasons and landed on an All-ACC third team in 1992.
Mike Bobo, Georgia, 1994-97
Bobo replaced Eric Zeier and finished his career second to Zeier in career passing categories. Bobo’s 6,334 yards now ranks sixth in UGA history.
Derrick Favors, Georgia Tech, 2009-10
Favors was one of the top recruits in the nation and spent just one season at Tech before getting drafted third overall in the 2010 NBA draft. He averaged 12.4 points and 8.4 rebounds in his one season in Atlanta, earning ACC Rookie of the Year honors.
Julio Franco, Braves, 2001-05, 07
Franco joined the Braves as a 42 year old in 2001, hanging on as productive bench player for five seasons. He hit .275 each of the five seasons during his first stint with the Braves.
Andres Galarraga, Braves, 1998-2000
Galarraga hit 44 home runs and knocked in 121 runs with a .305 average in 1998. After missing the 1999 season to treat cancer, he returned to hit 28 home runs with 100 RBI and a .302 average. He made the All-Star team both seasons with the Braves.
David Greene, Georgia, 2001-04
Greene was only the second four-year starter at quarterback in UGA history, joining Eric Zeier. Greene was the one to break most of Zeier’s program records. He passed for 2,500 yards or more every year. Greene finished his career with a SEC-record 11,528 career passing yards. He ranks third in career completion percentage and second in career touchdowns to Aaron Murray. He was the SEC Rookie of the Year in 2001 and the SEC Offensive Player of the Year in 2002. He finished his career with an NCAA-record 42 wins, a mark surpassed by Texas’ Colt McCoy.
Terry Hoage, Georgia, 1980-83
Hoage was a starter on the 1980 national championship team, but he became a star during his junior and senior seasons. He was a two-time consensus All-American, playing an integral role on UGA teams that went 43-4-1. He finished fifth in the Heisman Trophy voting in 1983, a year after setting a SEC record with 12 interceptions. He was a two-time SEC Defensive Player of the Year and the 1984 SEC Athlete of the Year. He ranks third in UGA history with 14 interceptions. Hoage went into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2000 and the UGA Circle of Honor in 2001.
Martin Prado, Braves, 2006-12
After three seasons as bench player, Prado became a regular starter in 2009. He hit .300 or better in three of his four full seasons as a starter. He made the All-Star game in 2010 and finishing in the top 10 in NL MVP voting. The popular Prado was shipped to Arizona prior to the 2013 season.
Brooke Steppe, Georgia Tech, 1978-82
Steppe was Tech’s first ever All-ACC selection when he landed on the team after averaging 17.8 points in 1981-82.
No. 15 Tim Hudson, Braves, 2005-current
Bio: Hudson was a two-time All-Star when he arrived in Atlanta. After a rough second year with the Braves, Hudson had a sub-4.00 ERA in seven straight seasons. He had a career season in 2010, going 17-9 with a 2.83 ERA as the Braves returned to the playoffs after a four-year absence. Hudson made the All-Star team in 2010 and finished fourth in the Cy Young voting. He’s proved a reliable mentor to the Braves’ young staff in recent years. Hudson is 113-72 with a 3.56 ERA in Atlanta, and he’s ninth in franchise history in strikeouts.
Why we picked him: Hudson gets the nod over Matt Harpring and Al Horford because of his extended success over a long period. If we revisited this list in a decade, Horford may be the pick. Hudson, however, has been one of the leaders of a Braves team that is in playoff contention for the fourth straight season.
Others we considered:
Tico Brown, Georgia Tech, 1976-79
Brown earned All-Metro Conference honors twice, averaging 16.1 points over three years at Tech.
Walter Daniels, Georgia, 1975-79
The Macon native made three All-SEC teams (two second-team selections and one third-team pick) and left school as the all-time leading scorer. Daniels, who averaged 21.9 points as a senior, is now fifth in UGA history in scoring.
Matt Harpring, Georgia Tech, 1994-98
Likely the best Tech player since Kenny Anderson, Harpring was a first-team All-American in 1998 and finished as a finalist for the Wooden and Naismith Awards as national player of the year. He averaged 18 points or more in each of his final three seasons, including 21.6 as a senior. He finished just seven points behind Rick Yunkus as Tech’s all-time leading scorer. Georgia Tech retired the jersey of Harpring, a three-time All-ACC first-team selection and first-round NBA draft pick, at the end of his senior season.
Al Horford, Hawks, 2007-current
The third-overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft, Horford has morphed into one of the top young players in the NBA. He has averaged more than 10 points in all six seasons and earned All-Star selections in 2010 and 2011. He’s coming off his best season, averaging 17.4 points and 10.2 rebounds in 2012-13.
C.J. Lofton, Valdosta State, 1999-2002
Despite all the great players in Valdosta State history, Lofton is the only three-time All-American in program history. He remains in the top five in program history in career receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. He went into the Valdosta State Sports Hall of Fame in 2008.
Shernard Long, Georgia State, 1999-2001
A transfer from Georgetown, Long averaged 17.5 points in two seasons at Georgia State. He averaged 18 points in his final season, pushing the Panthers to the TAAC championship and the NCAA tournament. He made the go-ahead basket to push the Panthers to an upset over Wisconsin in the opening round of the tournament – this was the last time an A-Sun/TAAC team won a NCAA tournament game under Florida Gulf Coast’s run in 2013. Long led the TAAC in scoring and was conference Player of the Year.
Denny Neagle, Braves, 1996-98
Neagle fit in nicely with the other Braves’ aces, going 20-5 with a 2.97 ERA to make the All-Star team and finish third in the Cy Young voting in 1997. He followed that with a 16-11 record and a 3.55 ERA in 1998.
Joe Torre, Braves, 1966-68 (player), 82-84 (manager)
Torre had one of the best seasons of his career in the Braves’ inaugural season in Atlanta. He hit .315 with 36 home runs and 101 RBI in 1966. He was an All-Star in two of three seasons in Atlanta. He later led the Braves to the NLCS in 1982.
Jeff Treadway, Braves, 1990-92
Treadway hit .277 in 1989 and .283 in 1990 in his two seasons with more than 470 at bats. He added a career-best 11 home runs and 59 RBI in 1990.
Claudell Washington, Braves, 1981-86
Washington also wore No. 18 for one year with the Braves, but he had his biggest seasons wearing No. 15. He made his only All-Star appearance in 1984 while hitting .286 with 17 home runs, 61 RBI and 21 stolen bases. Washington hit .278 with 116 doubles, 25 triples, 67 home runs, 279 RBI and 115 stolen bases in six seasons with the Braves.
No. 16: Brian McCann, Braves, 2005-current
Bio: A Georgia boy who grew up a Braves’ fan, McCann joined the “Baby Braves” team in 2005. He became the everyday catcher a year later and started his run as the greatest catcher in franchise history. He made seven All-Star appearances in eight seasons as the Braves’ starting catcher. He hit 20 or more home runs in six of the past eight years, and he has 17 this season in 72 games. He knocked in 85 or more runs four times and won the NL Silver Slugger Award for catcher five times.
Why we picked him: Very few athletes have made an impact comparable to McCann in their Atlanta careers, let alone by the time they turned 30. McCann continues to play an invaluable role with the Braves, making an All-Star team in 2013. If the Braves decide to re-sign him following the current season, McCann could go down as one of the greatest Braves of all-time.
Others we considered:
Lynn Hughes, Georgia, 1964-66
Hughes started at quarterback in 1964, helping the Bulldogs to a 7-3-1 record and ending a four-year run of losing seasons. He switched to safety, leading the Bulldogs to the 1966 SEC Championship and a win in the Cotton Bowl. He earned All-America honors from Playboy in 1966.
Rafael Ramirez, Braves, 1980-87
Ramirez wasn’t the most potent bat in Braves history, but he still had his moments. He had his best season in 1983, hitting .297 with 58 RBI to earn some NL MVP votes and followed that with an All-Star appearance in 1984.
Chris Shehan, Georgia Southern, 2006-08
Shehan was an All-American third baseman, hitting .438 with 22 home runs and 77 RBI in 2008. The Braves drafted his in the 30th round of the 2008 draft.
Kirby Smart, Georgia, 1995-98
Smart was a two-time All-SEC pick (first-team in 1998) who finished his career with 13 interceptions, which is tied for fifth in program history. Smart is currently Alabama’s defensive coordinator.
No. 17: Ilya Kovalchuk, Thrashers, 2001-10
Bio: Kovalchuk made the NHL All-Rookie team after scoring 29 goals as an 18 year old. Kovalchuk scored 30 or more goals every year in Atlanta, scoring 40 or more six times. He made three All-Star teams and led the NHL in scoring in 2003-04 with 41 goals. He holds the franchise records for games (594), points (615), goals (328), game-winning goals (40), assists (287) and hat tricks (11).
Why we picked him: Kovalchuk is the most prominent hockey player in state history. While the Thrashers were well behind the other pro sports teams in the state, Kovalchuk was the one guy most sports fans in the state could name regardless if they followed hockey intensely.
Others we considered:
Bob Berry, Falcons, 1968-72
The first standout quarterback in Falcons history started for five seasons. He made the Pro Bowl in 1969 and still ranks seventh in career passing yards and sixth in career passing touchdowns.
Greg Blue, Georgia, 2002-05
Blue followed in the footsteps of Sean Jones and Thomas Davis to become the Bulldogs’ third straight All-American at safety. Blue led UGA with 96 tackles in 2005 to earn consensus All-America honors.
Dusty Bonner, Valdosta State, 2000-01
Bonner may be the greatest quarterback in Division II history, winning the Harlon Hill Trophy twice as D-II Player of the Year. He passed for 8,163 yards and 107 touchdowns with 22 interceptions in two seasons. The Kentucky transfer holds most of the Blazers’ single-game passing records.
Quincy Carter, Georgia, 1998-2000
After trying a pro baseball career, Carter came to Georgia in 1998 and passed for 2,400 yards or more in two consecutive seasons. He finished his career second in program history in passing yards (6,447) and currently ranks fifth.
Glenn Hubbard, Braves, 1978-87
Hubbard only hit .245 in his 10 years with the Braves, but he was a fixture in the lineup for years and played in the 1983 All-Star Game.
Felix Millan, Braves, 1966-72
Millan made three straight All-Star games beginning in 1969. He also won two Gold Gloves with the Braves. He had 160 or more hits for four straight seasons beginning in 1968.
No. 18: Billy Lothridge, Georgia Tech, 1961-63
Bio: Lothridge is the only other Yellow Jackets’ player besides Joe Hamilton to finish runner-up in the Heisman Trophy voting. Lothridge finished second to Roger Staubach in 1963, one season after finishing eighth in the voting. He was a two-time All-SEC selection, and he landed on two All-America teams – AP and Football Writers Association of America – in 1963. Lothridge passed for 2,394 yards and 18 touchdowns in his career – both program records when he left school. He also made 21-of-33 field goals and had a 41.0 punting average. He’s ninth in Tech history in scoring. He went on to punt for the Atlanta Falcons, leading the NFL in punting twice. Lothridge went into the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame in 1986.
Why we picked him: Lothridge’s versatility made him one of the top players in college football while he was at Tech. There’s little shame in finishing as the runner-up to Staubach for the Heisman.
Others we considered:
Anthony Allen, Georgia Tech, 2009-10
Allen replaced Jonathan Dwyer and earned All-ACC honors in 2010 after rushing for 1,316 yards, which is the eighth best rushing season in Tech history. The Louisville transfer ranks 13th in program history with 1,934 yards.
Chris Hatcher, Valdosta State, 1991-94
Hatcher battled from the bottom of the depth chart to become one of the great quarterbacks in Division II history. He passed for 11,363 yards and 121 touchdowns, setting program, conference and national records. Hatcher led the Blazers to their first playoff appearance and won the Harlon Hill Trophy in 1994 as the best player in Division II. Hatcher later went 76-12 as the head coach at Valdosta State, leading the Blazers to the national title in 2004.
Kim King, Georgia Tech, 1965-67
“The Young Left-Hander” set the program record with 2,763 career passing yards. He now ranks 11th. He was inducted into the Georgia Tech Athletics Hall of Fame in 1978 and the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame in 1996. He later served as the Tech radio analyst for more than 25 years before losing his battle with leukemia in 2004.
Ryan Klesko, Braves, 1992-99
After hitting 40 home runs and 117 RBI in 574 at bats over the 1994 and 1995 seasons, Klesko became an everyday player in 1996. He hit a career-high 34 home runs that season and then hit another 63 home runs over the next three seasons.
Mick Luckhurst, Falcons, 1981-87
Luckhurst led the Falcons in scoring in all seven seasons with the franchise. The kicker is second in franchise history in field goals, extra points and points scored.
Bacarri Rambo, Georgia, 2009-12
Rambo tied Jake Scott’s program record with 16 career interceptions. He was an All-SEC and All-America pick (AP, Yahoo Sports, Rivals.com) in 2011 after leading the SEC with eight interceptions.
John Rauch, Georgia, 1945-48
Rauch started 45 straight games at quarterback, going 36-8-1 in those games. He was SEC Player of the Year as a senior and earned All-America honors from Grantland Rice. Rauch went into the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame in 1979 and led the Oakland Raiders to the Super Bowl in 1967 as their head coach.
No. 19 Hines Ward, Georgia, 1994-97
Bio: Ward is arguably the most versatile player at UGA over the past 30 years. He never really received the chance to excel at one position because he was asked to do so much. He rushed for 1,066 yards and five touchdowns, caught 144 passes for 1,965 yards and 11 touchdowns and passed for 918 yards and three touchdowns. Ward’s 900 receiving yards in 1997 ranks fifth in UGA history. Ward, who was a two-time second-team All-SEC pick, went on to make four Pro Bowls and win the 2005 Super Bowl MVP award with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Why we picked him: Ward was all over the field during his college career. Because he switched positions often, Ward never received the chance to fully excel at one position, but he became a household name on some mediocre UGA teams because of his willingness to pitch in wherever needed. Clint Castleberry has a compelling argument. He owns a legendary legacy and the only retired jersey in Tech football history, but he played just one season, and that one season was 61 years ago. How many people still around saw him play or remember the number he wore?
Others we considered:
Francisco Cabrera, Braves, 1989-93
Cabrera never had more than 140 at bats in a season, but he made his mark with his walk-off, two-run single in the bottom of the ninth in Game 7 of the 1992 NLCS. The hit probably ranks third behind Hank Aaron’s 715th home run and David Justice’s home run in Game 6 of the 1995 World Series as the most iconic hits in Atlanta Braves history.
Vinny Castilla, Braves, 2002-03
Castilla started with the Braves but became an All-Star with the Colorado Rockies. He returned in 2002, pushing Chipper Jones to the outfield. He had four seasons with 35 or more home runs with the Rockies, but he hit just 34 home runs over two seasons.
Clint Castleberry, Georgia Tech, 1942
Although he played just one season at Tech, Castleberry’s impact is unmistakable. He finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting (behind winner Frank Sinkwich of UGA) as a freshman quarterback, leading the Yellow Jackets to a 9-2 record, a win at Notre Dame and a spot in the Cotton Bowl. He earned All-America honors from five different publications and made the All-SEC team. Castleberry joined the military following the 1942 season, becoming a co-pilot of a B-26. He died in a plane crash in Africa in 1944 during World War II. He has the only retired number in Georgia Tech football history. He was inducted into the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame in 1956. One of the great high school players in state history, Castleberry averaged 171 rushing yards at Boys High and scored 102 points, according to Georgia Tech’s website.
Charles Grant, Georgia, 1999-2001
Grant made the second-team All-SEC in 2001 as a defensive lineman. A first-round pick of the New Orleans Saints in 2002, Grant ranks 11th in UGA history with 15 sacks.
John Little, Georgia, 1983-86
Little holds the UGA record for tackles by a defensive back with 381. He ranks seventh overall in program history. Little was a two-time All-SEC selection and earned All-America honors in 1985 (Football News) and 1986 (Walter Camp and Football News).
Scott Woerner, Georgia, 1977-80
Woerner led the nation in punt return average during the Bulldogs’ national championship season in 1980, and he finished with the program record for career punt return yards. The Jonesboro native is tied for second in UGA history with 13 career interceptions. He was an All-American (UPI, Kodak, Walter Camp, Football News) in 1980. Woerner later played for the Atlanta Falcons.