CLASS OF 2000
George Atkinson grew up in Savannah and was a star football player at Morris Brown College in Atlanta during the 1960s. He was drafted by the Oakland Raiders in the 1968 NFL draft. Atkinson set the Raiders' single-game record for punt return yardage in 1968, with 205 yards against the Buffalo Bills. He ranks fifth on the Raiders all-time interception list with 30. During his eleven year NFL career, he made the Pro Bowl three times and was part of the Raiders Super Bowl XI championship team. After his playing days, Atkinson has enjoyed a successful broadcasting career, most notably with the Raiders broadcast team.
Bill Chappell grew up in Lagrange and started his high school football coaching career at Perry High School in 1953. After a short stint at Perry, Chappell moved on to Dalton High School where he coached for 33 years and became a coaching legend. He compiled a career record of 317-74-9 and never had a losing season, reaching the playoffs 27 times. His teams won 17 Region Titles and were state runners-up five times. His 1967 tem won the AA State Championship. He was the Atlanta Touchdown Club’s Coach of The Year in 1967 and 1978 and was named Region Coach of the Year 18 times. He is considered one Georgia’s all-time greatest high school coaches.
Norm Nixon played basketball and football in high school at Macon’s Southwest High School and was named to all-state in both sports. He was named as the starting guard on the Georgia All-State team for 1973, after leading Southwest to the 1973 state high school basketball championship. He was on the track team, ran the 440 yard dash, and won a region title in the high jump at 6 feet, 5 inches. Norm signed a basketball scholarship with Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and averaged 17.2 points and 5.5 assists-per-game. He tallied 1,805 points and 577 assists during his career, a school record. His number 10 was retired at Duquesne. He then spent 12 productive seasons in the NBA with the Los Angeles Lakers and the San Diego (Los Angeles) Clippers. A two-time NBA All-Star, he was an integral part of two NBA championships with the Lakers.
LUCIUS SANFORD, JR.
Lucius M. Sanford Jr. grew up in Milledgeville before moving to Atlanta and becoming a three sport letterman at West Fulton High School in football, track and basketball. From there it was on to Georgia Tech where he was a four-year starter at linebacker from 1974 to 1977. He was a First-Team All-American in 1977 after being honorable in 1976. He finished his career with 433 career tackles which still ranks among the best in program history. Lucius held the Tech freshman record of 124 tackles before leading Tech in tackles three straight years. Sanford was an outstanding student and earned his degree in Industrial Management. He was drafted by the Buffalo Bills in the 1978 NFL draft. He played nine years with the Bills and a final season with the Cleveland Browns. He is a member of the Georgia Tech Hall of Fame. Since his retirement from football Sanford has served an administrator in the Georgia Tech athletics program.
Gwen Torrence was raised in Decatur and attended Columbia High School where she became a star athlete before moving on to the University of Georgia. Torrence became the first African-American woman to win an NCAA title at Georgia when she won the 55-meter dash at the 1986 NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships. She won the race again the following year, as well as the 100 and 200 at the 1987 NCAA Outdoor Championships. All totaled, she earned All-American status 12 times, won four NCAA Championships, and eight SEC titles. In the early 1990s, Torrence was one of the best sprinters in the world, winning five Olympic medals at the Barcelona and Atlanta Olympic Games in 1992 and 1996, including three Gold. She won medals at the Summer Olympics, Outdoor and Indoor World Championships, Pan American Games, Goodwill Games, and World University Games. She is considered one of the greatest track athletes that the state of Georgia has ever produced.
Herschel Walker is a Wrightsville native who set numerous state and national records as a running back at Johnson County High School where he led the Trojans to a State Championship in 1979. Walker was an instant sensation as a freshman at The University of Georgia where he led the Bulldogs to a National Championship in 1980. He was a 3 time consensus All-American at Georgia and won the Heisman Trophy in 1982. He was also a sprinter for the track team while at Georgia. He left school a year early and began his pro football career with the USFL’s New Jersey Generals in 1983. During his 3-year stint with the Generals, Walker won the league’s rushing title twice and set the single season professional football yardage record with 2411 yards in 1985. After the USFL folded, Walker played 12 more seasons in the NFL and where he proved to one of the most versatile and consistent players in league history. In addition to his football exploits, he also competed as an Olympic Bobsledder and a professional Mixed Martial Arts fighter. Walker is considered by many to be the greatest college football player of all time, and is one of the most popular athletes that the state has ever produced.