BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The Southeastern Conference 2012 Football Legends Class includes 14 former SEC stars who have made a name for themselves as great athletes on the playing field.
This year’s class has Heisman Trophy winners, All-Americans, All-SEC and Academic All-Americans as well as NCAA and SEC record holders. The group represents teams that won National and SEC Championships and are represented in state, school and National Football Foundation Halls of Fame.
The class will be honored at the 2012 SEC Football “Weekend of Champions” Nov. 30-Dec. 1 in Atlanta, Ga. The annual SEC Legends Dinner presented by AT&T will be held Nov. 30 at the Hyatt Regency in Atlanta and the group will also be recognized prior to the SEC Football Championship Game, which will be held at the Georgia Dome on Sat., Dec. 1.
Below is a listing and biographies of the 2012 SEC Football Legends:
ALABAMA – Paul Crane, Center/Linebacker, 1963-65
Paul Crane played both center and linebacker and earned unanimous All-America accolades in 1965 at center. He also earned SEC Lineman of the Year honors in 1964. Crane played on three bowl teams at Alabama while the Tide collected a 28-4-1 record during his playing career. Two of those teams were crowned national champions (1964 and 1965). He was a team captain on the 1965 national title squad. Crane went on to an excellent pro career, playing for seven seasons with the New York Jets (1966-73), including the 1969 Super Bowl Champions. He went on to serve as an assistant coach at Alabama (1974-78) and Ole Miss (1978-81). He has been honored with the "Paul Crane Most Improved Offensive Lineman Award", given each spring at Alabama.
ARKANSAS – Pat Summerall, Kicker/Defensive End/Tight End, 1949-51
Pat Summerall was a defensive end, tight end and placekicker for the Razorbacks from 1949-51 before going on to a successful NFL playing and broadcasting career. A team captain for the Razorbacks in 1951, his field goal provided the winning margin in Arkansas’ 16-14 upset win over No. 4 Texas, marking the first time the Razorbacks had defeated the Longhorns in Fayetteville. Summerall is a member of the All-Century Team (selected in 1994) as a kicker and was named to the 1940s All-Decade team as an end. He was selected in the fourth round of the 1952 NFL Draft by the Detroit Lions. He played one year for Detroit (1952), five years for the Chicago Cardinals (1953-57) and four with the New York Giants (1958-61). In 1959, he scored 90 points on 30 of 30 extra points and 20 of 29 field goals. After his 10-year playing career, Summerall became a play-by-play announcer for CBS and Fox (40 years). He teamed up with John Madden for 22 years to form the most recognizable broadcast team in history. In his distinguished broadcasting career, he called 26 Super Bowls as well as the Masters in golf and the United States Open in tennis.
AUBURN – James C. Owens, Fullback, 1969-72
James Owens lettered at Auburn as a fullback from 1969-72 and was pioneer for the Auburn football program as he was the first African-American football player in school history. During his three seasons, he helped Auburn to a 28-5 record and played a key role in the 1972 “Amazin’s” who finished the season 10-1 and a top five national finish. After his senior season in 1972, Owens was drafted in the 11th round of the NFL Draft by the New Orleans Saints. Auburn has established the “James Owens Courage Award,” which will be presented annually to a current or former Auburn football player who has displayed courage in the face of adversity, distinguishing himself while contributing to the betterment of Auburn. He returned to his hometown of Fairfield, where he worked at U.S. Steel before entering the ministry.
FLORIDA – Steve Tannen, Defensive Cornerback, 1967-69
A two-year All-SEC choice, Steve Tannen was voted the top defensive back in league in 1969. He is one of ten players with 11+ career interceptions for the Gators. He also returned two punts for touchdowns during his career and was known as a kick blocker on special teams, having blocked three in 1969. He blocked a punt which was returned for a touchdown in 14-13 win over Tennessee in the 1969 Gator Bowl. He was selected as a first-team All-American in 1969. Tannen was taken with the 20th selection in the first round of the 1970 NFL Draft by the New York Jets. He played six seasons with the Jets, where he had 12 interceptions, two blocked field goals and a blocked punt. Tannen graduated from Florida with a bachelor's degree in business administration in 1972, and was later inducted into the University of Florida Athletic Hall of Fame as a "Gator Great."
GEORGIA – David Greene, Quarterback, 2001-04
David Greene started 52 consecutive games over four seasons (an NCAA record), led the Bulldogs to a 42-10 record during that time, four straight bowl games, three straight national top six finishes, two SEC Eastern Division titles (2002 and '03) and the 2002 SEC championship. In 2004, Greene became the winningest Division 1-A quarterback in NCAA history with 42 career victories breaking the old mark of 39 by Tennessee's Peyton Manning. He was named the SEC's Offensive Player of the Year in 2002 after leading Georgia to a 13-1 record, SEC Championship, Sugar Bowl victory, and number three final national ranking. When he left Georgia he was the owner of numerous SEC passing records including Career Passing Yards (11,528), Career Total Offense (11,270), and Most Consecutive Passes without an Interception (214 breaking his own old mark of 176). He was also named a recipient of the National Scholar-Athlete Award ($18,000 scholarship) from the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame.
KENTUCKY – Sonny Collins, Running Back, 1972-75
Sonny Collins finished his career as the SEC’s all-time rushing leader with 3,835 yards. He was a first-team All-SEC selection in 1973, 1974 and 1975 and was the SEC Player of the Year in 1973. Collins continues to holds the Kentucky career record for rushing yardage and also holds school records for rushing attempts (777), rushing touchdowns (26) and 100-yard rushing games (18). He was selected by the Atlanta Falcons as the 8th pick of the 2nd round of the 1976 NFL draft. In a game against San Francisco, Collins set a record when he rushed 31 times for 107 yards. A knee injury ended his career after one year with the Atlanta Falcons. He is a member of the Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame.
LSU – Kevin Mawae, Center, 1990-93
Kevin Mawae was a four-year starter on offensive line for the Tigers from 1990-93, starting games at center, left tackle and left guard during his career at LSU. He earned Freshman All-SEC honors in 1990, was named First-Team All-SEC honors in 1991 and was a second-team all-league pick in both 1992 and 1993. He was named third-team All-America by Football News as a senior in 1993. A member of the LSU Athletic Hall of Fame, Mawae drafted in the second round of the 1994 NFL Draft by the Seattle Seahawks. He played 16 years in the NFL for three different teams – Seahawks, New York Jets and Tennessee Titans, playing in 241 regular season games during NFL, starting 238 consecutive games to end his career in 2009. He was named to the Pro Bowl eight times and was selected All-Pro seven times. He was voted a member of the NFL 2000’s All-Decade team and served as president of the NFL Players Association from March, 2008 until March, 2011.
OLE MISS – Glynn Griffing, Quarterback, 1960-62
Co-captain of the 1962 undefeated (10-0) Ole Miss squad, quarterback Glynn Griffing helped lead Coach John Vaught’s Rebels to a share of the national championship that season as he earned first-team All-America and All-SEC honors. Griffing ended his collegiate career with his Most Outstanding Player performance in the Sugar Bowl as Ole Miss closed out the school’s only perfect season with a victory over Arkansas, a game which saw him pass for 242 yards to break Davey O’Brien’s 24-year-old Sugar Bowl record for passing yardage. Selected as the Atlanta TD Club’s SEC Back of the Year in 1962, Griffing earned MVP honors in the Senior Bowl and also played in the Chicago All-Star Game and the Coaches Association All-America Bowl. After playing one year with the New York Giants, Griffing retired from the NFL to enter private business. Griffing, a member of the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and the Ole Miss Sports Hall of Fame, remains heavily involved in community service in Jackson, Miss., which has included multiple mission trips to Mexico and Honduras as well as to the Mississippi Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina.
MISSISSIPPI STATE – Walt Harris, Defensive Back, 1992-95
Walt Harris was a three-time All-SEC selection from 1993-95, earning All-America honors in 1995. He continues to hold the Mississippi State record for career interceptions with 16 and single-season interceptions with six (as a sophomore and junior). He became a starter at State as a freshman at cornerback/free safety and played in 10 games, including starts during the final three games. As a junior, his six interceptions ranked third in the SEC and fifth in the nation and led the team with 12 passes defensed and also recovered two fumbles and blocked two kicks. He was drafted in the first round (13th overall) in the 1996 NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears. He played in 193 games over 13 seasons in the NFL with the Bears, Indianapolis Colts, Washington Redskins and San Francisco 49ers. He finished his NFL career with 35 interceptions.
MISSOURI – Johnny Roland, Defensive Back/Running Back/Kick Return, 1962, 64-65
One of the top two-way players in Mizzou history, who began his career for Dan Devine as a running back, but switched as a junior to defensive back, where he won All-American honors as a senior in 1965 when he led the Tigers to an 8-2-1 record and a 20-18 win over Florida and Heisman Trophy winning QB Steve Spurrier, in the 1966 Sugar Bowl. He was a three-time All-Big Eight selection, once as a running back (1962), and twice as a defensive back (1964-65). He had six interceptions in 1965 when he won All-American honors, and he also returned punts and kickoffs and came in on offense in red zone situations quite often. As a sophomore in 1962, he was MU’s leading rusher with 830 yards (7th in the NCAA that year), and scored 78 points (9th in the NCAA). His #23 jersey number was retired after his playing days, and he was a 1998 inductee in the NFF Hall of Fame. He went on to a stellar 8-year career in the NFL, where he won Rookie of the Year honors with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1966. Roland then coached for nearly 30 years in the league before his retirement.
SOUTH CAROLINA – Ko Simpson, Safety, 2004-05
Ko Simpson was a two-year starter and letterwinner for South Carolina. He was named first team All-America in 2005 by the FWAA and CBSSportsline.com and was a third team selection by the Associated Press and was a consensus first team All-SEC selection after recording 103 tackles. In 2004, he earned second-team All-America honors by Sporting News and was a FWAA and Rivals.com Freshman All-American after his six interceptions led the SEC. Simpson garnered SEC Freshman of the Year honors by the Associated Press and was a second-team All-SEC selection by both the AP and Coaches. He was selected by the Buffalo Bills in the fourth round of the 2006 NFL Draft and played professionally for both Buffalo and Detroit.
TENNESSEE – Peerless Price, Wide Receiver, 1995-98
Peerless Price caught 147 passes for 2,298 yards and 19 touchdowns over a four-year career at Tennessee, including a Second Team All-SEC season as a senior in 1998 in which he caught 61 passes for 920 yards and 10 touchdowns. Price was named Most Valuable Player of both Tennessee’s national championship-winning effort in the Fiesta Bowl in 1999 catching four passes for 199 yards, including a 79-yard fourth-quarter grab that proved to be the game winner against Florida State. He was also of the 1998 SEC Championship Game against Mississippi State. Price ranks fourth in school history in receptions and receiving touchdowns and third in receiving. Price is a native of Dayton, Ohio, and his 10 receiving touchdowns in 1998 rank tied for fifth in Vol history. A two-time member of the SEC Academic Honor Roll, Price was taken in the second round of the 1999 NFL Draft by the Buffalo Bills. He played nine seasons in the NFL with the Bills, Atlanta Falcons and Dallas Cowboys.
TEXAS A&M – John David Crow, Running Back/Defensive Back, 1955-57
John David Crow is the only Heisman Trophy winner in Texas A&M University history, as well as the only Heisman Trophy winner to ever play for head football coach Paul “Bear” Bryant. He is a member of the National Football Foundation Hall of Fame, as well as the Texas Sports Hall of Fame, the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame and the Texas A&M Athletics Hall of Fame. He was named a Distinguished Alumnus of Texas A&M in 2004. In his Heisman Trophy-winning season in 1957, the Aggies won their first eight games and were ranked atop the AP Poll. Although injured early in the season, Crow was able to play in seven games in his senior season, rushing for 562 yards on 129 carries, with six touchdowns. While playing on defense, he recorded five interceptions. Crow was the second player selected in the 1958 NFL draft by the Chicago Cardinals and played 11 years in the NFL. Following the end of his playing career, Crow served as a coach and athletics administrator, eventually becoming athletics director at his alma mater.
VANDERBILT – Hunter Hillenmeyer, Linebacker, 1999-2002
Hunter Hillenmeyer was a four-year letterwinner at Vanderbilt (1999–2002), seeing action at linebacker in 45 games. A 23-game starter, Hillenmeyer finished his career with 249 total tackles, 165 solo stops and 6.5 quarterback sacks. As a senior middle linebacker, Hillenmeyer earned All-Southeastern Conference after putting together one of the finest statistical seasons ever by a Commodore defender, topping the NCAA with 168 total tackles and the SEC with 116 solo tackles. A stellar student-athlete, Hillenmeyer was selected as one of six Division I-A National Football Foundation National Scholar-Athletes by the College Football Hall of Fame and National Football Foundation. He also became the first Vanderbilt student-athlete in 19 years to earn First-team Academic All-America recognition. He was drafted by the Green Bay Packers in the fifth round of the 2003 NFL Draft, then enjoyed an eight-year pro career with the Chicago Bears.