CLASS OF 1984
Joseph Johnston (Joe) Bennett Jr. was born in Statesboro and became a prominent tackle for coaches Herman Stegeman and Kid Woodruff's Georgia Bulldogs football team from 1920 to 1923, starting as a freshman. Bennett was captain of the 1923 team, and won letters in each of his four years. During his days in Athens, Georgia compiled a record of 25–9–4. The team shared Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association (SIAA) titles in 1920 and 1921. Bennett received Walter Camp All-American honorable mention in 1922. An All-Time Georgia All-Star Team published in 1935 had Bennett listed as a first-team tackle. Bennett was also a basketball letterman in 1922, '23, and '24. In addition he was captain of the Pistol team and set a college record with 338 out of a possible 350 points.
James Jerome (Jimmy) Carnes was born in Eatonton, attended Mercer University where he played for the Bears basketball team and was a javelin thrower and high jumper for the track and field team from 1952 to 1956. After graduation he became track coach at Druid Hills High School. From 1957 to 1962, his track teams were a perfect 52–0 in dual meets and captured six GHSA State Championships. He was Georgia coach of the year six times. In 1964, Carnes became the head coach of the University of Florida track & field team and the Gators finished in the top-3 in the SEC 15 times, won 2 conference indoor track championships, and compiled a 93–3 overall record in dual meets. Jimmy served as the assistant coach of the U.S. men’s track & field team for the 1976 Montreal Olympics, and the head coach of the U.S. men’s team that was forced to boycott the 1980 Moscow Olympics. From 1980 to 1984, he served as the founding president of the U.S. Track & Field Federation. Carnes was inducted into the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 1998 and the USA Track & Field Hall of Fame in 2008.
Savannah native George C. Griffin entered Georgia Tech as a sub-apprentice in 1914 and was involved with the institution for almost 70 years. A career that included being a math instructor, assistant football coach, tennis coach, track coach and cross-country coach. He played football under John Heisman at the infamous Tech vs. Cumberland game, which Tech won 222-0. Griffin coached the freshman football team at Tech for 2 seasons in 1920-1921 compiling a record of 12-2. He coached the track team from '24-'42, the cross country team from '23 all the way through 1974. And he even coached the tennis team that won 22 of 23 matches over a two year span. George also headed the NROTC at Tech, was dean of students, founder of the Georgia Tech Placement Center and Georgia Tech Alumni Career Services, a founder of the Georgia Tech Hall of Fame and secretary for the Georgia Tech Alumni Association. He was a beloved figure in Tech's history and is often referred to as "Mr. Georgia Tech."
Indiana native Roger Kaiser learned how to shoot a basketball by aiming for a hoop that was nailed to the barn behind his house. An Indiana basketball star usually chooses to stay home and play for the Hoosiers, but he chose Georgia Tech. Kaiser became Tech’s first All-America as a junior in 1960, when he led the Jackets to their first NCAA Tournament appearance and a berth in the Sweet 16. A year later he earned consensus All-America honors and was named the Southeastern Conference Player of the Year. Kaiser was also an all-conference performer in baseball, but it was definitely his basketball skills that made him one of the greatest to ever play on the Flats. When Kaiser completed his three-year career he held the career records for points scored, scoring average, field goals made, free throws made and free throws attempted. Roger was drafted in 1961 by Washington of the ABA and in 2 seasons Kaiser led the league in 3 pointers. Kaiser went on to become a coaching legend in the state of Georgia; starting at Decatur High, then highlighted by four NAIA National Titles at West Georgia from 1970-1990 and Life University (1997, 1999 and 2000).
Oscar Bane (O.B.) “Pop” Keeler was born in 1882 and spent most of his boyhood in Marietta. He became an Atlanta Journal sports staffer and garnered national recognition and fame as a writer and authority on golf. Keeler chronicled every tournament stroke ever played by the legendary Bobby Jones and the two became close friends. O.B. traveled 150,000 miles with Jones and is the only man to witness all of Jones’ 13 major championship wins – most notably the Grand Slam victories of 1930. He went on to write over a million words and 500 columns for the Associated Press alone. He rubbed elbows with fellow journalist Ernest Hemingway. Argued the rules of tennis with baseball great Ty Cobb. And wrote the obituary for Yankee great, Babe Ruth. A unique individual, he was one of the best-known and liked of all the newspapermen in the business. In 1927, Pop was heavily involved in the writing of Bobby Jones’ autobiography called Down the Fairway. The duo became one of the preeminent partnerships in all of sports history. Bobby Jones defining victory, and Pop Keeler taking it mainstream linked their names forever.
MEL PENDER, JR.
Melvin (Mel) Pender Jr. left his Atlanta home and enlisted in the U.S. Army at age 17. He was a decorated Vietnam War combat veteran and served for 21 years. Early in his military service, Pender took up athletics, where his incredible speed was noticed in camp football games. His progress was remarkable and he was selected to the 1964 Olympic Track Team. But Mel was hampered by injury and finished seventh in the 100 meters at Tokyo. Four years later, nearing age 31 he made another Olympic team. At the 1968 games in Mexico City, Pender again made it to the 100 meters final, where his explosive start and exceptional acceleration brought him to the lead midway through the race, but he faded slightly and finished sixth. In the 4X100 meter relay, he ran the second leg as the American team won the gold medal in a new world record of 38.24 seconds. After the 1968 Olympics, Pender earned a Bronze Star in Vietnam and worked as the head track coach at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He later earned a bachelor's degree from Adelphi University.
William Thomas (Bill) Stanfill attended Cairo High School where he was a three-sport star in football, basketball, and track and field. In football, as a senior, he was named the Class AA Lineman of the Year. In basketball, as a senior, he led his team to the State Championship and was named the State Tournament MVP. Stanfill stayed in his home state to play college football at Georgia and made a massive impact across his three seasons as a defensive lineman with the Bulldogs. He was voted All-SEC each year from 1966 through 1968 and was named a consensus All-American in his senior year when he also captured the Outland Trophy as the best interior lineman in college football. The Miami Dolphins selected him with the 11th overall pick in the 1969 NFL draft. He shifted to defensive end making the first of his five Pro Bowl appearances as a rookie. Stanfill also earned a first-team All-Pro selection in 1972 as the undefeated Dolphins won the first of back-to-back NFL Championships. He earned a place in the Dolphins Honor Roll in 2010 and was named to the franchise's 50th anniversary team.