By Maurice Patton
Former University of Tennessee basketball standout Fred Jenkins, ex-Major League Baseball all-star Dan Uggla and the 2010 TSSAA Class 5A state championship football team highlight the 2020 Columbia Central Athletic Hall of Fame induction class.
The class will be honored during an Oct. 22 ceremony.
In addition to former individual athletes and contributors, three Central state title squads will be inducted – the 2004 girls bowling team, the 2008 boys bowling team and the 2010 football team.
“It’s a very impressive class,” Central principal Roger White said regarding the third group of inductees since the Hall of Fame’s 2018 establishment. “The committee did a really good job of selecting this class.”
This year’s honorees are:
Jimmy Linville, Class of 1954: An all-American football selection his senior season, Linville was part of a 1953 team that finished 9-1 with five shutouts. He went on to play collegiately at Vanderbilt, and was a member of the 1955 team that defeated Auburn in the Gator Bowl for the Commodores’ first bowl victory.
Regen Peebles, Class of 1961: Peebles was a three-sport participant for the Lions, playing basketball and baseball in addition to earning all-state honors on the gridiron. He later played at the University of Alabama.
Hal Wantland, Class of 1962 (posthumously): Captain of both the basketball and football teams his senior year, Wantland played each for four seasons as well as baseball. He was a football all-American selection following the 1961 season, as Central finished 7-2-1. Wantland played collegiately at Tennessee and captained the 1965 team, before his selection in the 16th round of the 1966 NFL Draft by the Washington Redskins and a brief professional career with the Miami Dolphins.
James Kelly, Class of 1969: “Batman” was a four-sport participant at Central, starring in football as a most valuable player selection his senior year and as an all-region basketball performer in addition to baseball and track. On the hardwood, Kelley helped the Lions to their first tournament berth in 32 years before going on to play football collegiately at Tennessee State. After completing his eligibility, he spent time professionally with the Chicago Bears and the Washington Redskins.
Fred Jenkins, Class of 1983: After earning all-America honors and having his jersey retired at the conclusion of his Central tenure, Jenkins joined the 1,000-point club at UT and was a sixth-round NBA draft selection of the Houston Rockets. He went on to play professionally overseas.
Jerie Alexander, Class of 1998: Alexander earned all-state honors in both basketball and softball at Central, leading the softball team to a pair of district titles, before signing a softball scholarship with Southwestern Louisiana (since renamed Louisiana-Lafayette). As a Ragin’ Cajun, Alexander established career runs and at-bat records for the program and was the No. 2 all-time leader in hits, and was a two-time all-Sun Belt Conference first-team selection.
Dan Uggla, Class of 1998: A four-year member of the Lion football and baseball teams, Uggla rushed for 1,053 yards his senior season before signing a baseball scholarship with the University of Memphis. He was named a Louisville Slugger collegiate All-American his sophomore year, and was selected in the 11th round of the 2001 MLB Draft by the Arizona Diamondbacks. Taken in the 2005 Rule 5 Draft by the Florida Marlins, Uggla became the first Rule 5 draftee to earn all-star honors in his first year with his new team, in 2006. He was also an all-star in 2008 and ’12. After spending time with the Atlanta Braves – where he had a 33-game hitting streak in 2011 – and the San Francisco Giants, Uggla concluded his career with the Washington Nationals in 2015.
Jerry Sweeney, Contributor (posthumously): Sweeney made a tremendous behind-the-scenes impact on the Central football, baseball and band programs for more than 20 years, and was particularly instrumental in transporting band equipment for road performances.
Mid-Tennessee Bone & Joint Clinic/Jeff and Tina Adams, Contributors: Since MTBJ’s 1975 founding, Jeff was the long-serving team doctor for Central athletics, while Tina served as an officer with the Central football booster club. Both have been extremely generous with their time.
2004 Lady Lions bowling: Central completed a perfect season with a dominant run through the state tournament bracket – defeating Collierville 18-9, Hardin County 21-6 and Gatlinburg-Pittman 22-5 before downing Glencliff 18-9 in the finals to finish 18-0 on the year. Coached by Mike Ransom and Michael Ransom Jr., team members included Angelina Burns, Fran DeRanzo, Julie Halter, Ashley Haywood, Candace Howell, Christina Lewis, Lashonda Mayberry, Kristine Meath, Surkonya Moore, Ashley Patrick, Paige Provey and Holly Thompson.
2008 Lions bowling: Led by individual state titlist Michael Poirier, the Lions defeated Sevier County 22-5 in the state quarterfinals and neighboring rival Page 18-9 in the semis before clinching the first of five championships with a 19-8 win over Hendersonville in the finals and finishing 24-1. Coached by Mike Ransom, Gary Flatt and Randy Cook, team members included Des Braden, Aaron Davidson, Francisco Delarosa, Tay Duncan, Jake Flatt, Cody Hamilton, Travis Howell, Carey Morris, Ronald Riggs, Wes Tuesca and Poirier.
2010 Lions football: Rallying around the illness of teammate Dylan Rebeor, the Lions improved on their 2009 state runner-up status and claimed the program’s first TSSAA-sanctioned championship with a 28-7 win over Hendersonville – hours after Rebeor succumbed to cancer that same day. Central finished the year 13-2, with postseason victories over Lenoir City, Knoxville Catholic and rival Tullahoma before advancing to the finals with a hard-fought 7-0 win over visiting Knoxville West. Senior fullback/linebacker Tra’Darius Goff earned offensive and defensive MVP honors in the title game, scoring three touchdowns and notching a game-high 17 total tackles. Coached by Vance Belew, other team members included Dre Hall, Matthew Markham, Chris Martin, Eric Belew and Shaq Mason.
“We have a selection committee and a hall of fame board,” explained Hall of Fame committee chair Drew Parker. “The committee narrows down the finalists, and the board selects from the finalists. (But) we rely on nominations from the public. Anyone can nominate anyone. It’s really important that folks nominate.
“This is a class of incredible individuals, well representative of our school. Our hope is that we can continue to recognize folks that are every bit as impressive and deserving as the ones we are recognizing this year.”
The inaugural Hall of Fame class included Jim Cartwright, Everett Derryberry, Hardy Loyd, Lindsey Nelson, Fred Pickard, Malcolm “Mutt” Quillen, Joanne (Cole) Ramsey, Virginia Scott Parsons and longtime Columbia Daily Herald sports editor Marion Wilhoite.
Last year’s inductees were Vance Belew, Bernard Childress, Lee Clayborne, Robert Elliott, Lee Fowler, Richard Lemay, Billy Potts, Jack Van Hooser, Willie Wyatt and the 1952 Central football team.
Details regarding the Oct. 22 event will be provided at a later date.
Maurice Patton is the editor for Southern Middle Tennessee Sports. E-mail: email@example.com; Twitter: @mopatton_sports.