CLASS OF 2011
Robert Davis from Rocky Mount, North Carolina grew up in northern Florida and came to Georgia not long out of college to join the Warner Robins football staff as an offensive line coach in 1965. Davis became the Demons' head coach in 1973 and by 1976 his team won the high school National Championship. That team featuring James Brooks, Ron Simmons and Jimmy Womack, is considered to be one of the state’s best teams in history. They won their state-playoff games: 42-0, 56-7 and 34-0. The Demons won 3 State Championships under Davis and claimed another National Title in 1981. Davis' record at Warner Robins was 253-41-1 in 24 seasons. In 1997 he took the challenge of beginning a program at Westside in Macon and immediately made an impact guiding the Seminoles to five 10-win seasons. Davis retired with a career record of 354-74-1.
JOE DELANY, JR.
Joe DeLany was an excellent all-around athlete at North Fulton High School in Atlanta. He then joined legendary Bobby Dodd’s Georgia Tech football team where he lettered for three years: 1956-58. Once his playing days were over, Joe became a successful businessman and he officiated football on the side. He would eventually become one of the top officials in college football. Joe officiated in 20 bowl games of which six were National Championships. DeLany wrote a manual that was used by the SEC Football Officials for 12 straight years and he won the George Gardner Award in 1997 for outstanding service and dedication to College Football Officiating. He spent 45 years working the sidelines and he’s one of the few officials to officiate the five major bowl games—Rose, Sugar, Orange, Cotton and Gator.
Marietta native Dale Ellis left the Peach State to play college basketball for the University of Tennessee back in 1979. He became one of the Vols all-time greats as a two-time first team All-American and two-time SEC Player of the Year. He was the 9th overall pick in the 1983 NBA Draft by the Dallas Mavericks. But it would take three years and another city for Ellis to blossom. After being traded to Seattle in 1987, Ellis scored 24.9 points per game and was named the NBA’s Most Improved Player. Ellis continued to light up the stat sheet with his scoring average topping out at 27.5 points per game during the 1988–89 season. Ellis spent four and a half seasons with the Super Sonics before once again being traded, this time to the Milwaukee Bucks. The remainder of his career would see Ellis shipped to several teams before he eventually retired after playing 19 seasons in 1,209 games and posting a career scoring average of 15.7 points per game.
Ray Goff was a standout athlete in his hometown of Moultrie and signed a football scholarship with the University of Georgia to play quarterback. Goff was a three-year letterman in Athens. During his two-year stint as the starting QB, Goff led the team to a 19-5 record and was named SEC Player of the Year in 1976 after leading the ‘Dawgs to the National Championship Game against Pittsburgh. Goff worked as a graduate assistant under Vince Dooley before heading to South Carolina where he was a full-time assistant for three seasons. Goff was back at Georgia in 1981 to coach the tight ends, running backs and serve as recruiting coordinator. When Dooley retired after the 1988 season, Goff, then just 33 years-old, surprisingly was chosen to succeed him. In seven seasons, Goff compiled a 46-34-1 record highlighted by his 1991 team that finished 9-3 and the ’92 team which went 10-2 and finished 8th in the final AP Rankings.
William (Bill) Ploeger was born in Brunswick and headed to Georgia Tech where he captained the Yellow Jacket golf team and earned NCAA All-American honorable mention honors. He could have pursued a professional career but instead, Ploeger decided to remain an amateur. He has qualified for the U.S. Amateur five times and the U.S. Mid-Amateur four times. As a senior player, he won the Georgia Senior Four-Ball five times and the Florida International Four-Ball. Ploeger has won the Golden Isles Invitational in Brunswick 11 times, the Georgia Senior Championship four times and captured the 1999 USGA Senior Amateur. In 1999, Golf Digest ranked Ploeger the top senior player in the United States. Ploeger is a member of the Georgia Tech Sports Hall of Fame and the Georgia State Golf Association Hall of Fame.
LISA SPAIN SHORT
Moultrie’s Lisa Spain Short was a 4-time State Tennis Champion at Colquitt County High School where she compiled a 56-1 prep record. In 1980, Lisa arrived on the University of Georgia campus and made an immediate impact for Coach Greg McGarity. Short posted a 123-21 in singles record during her outstanding college career, which at the time was the best winning percentage (85.4) in program history. Short was ALL-SEC for four years and she was the first Georgia women’s tennis All-American, an honor she would claim all four of her years in Athens. As a senior, she was the best player in the country and captured the program's first NCAA singles championship. After college, Lisa played professionally for several years, reaching as high as No. 63 in the world.
JAMES "J.T." THOMAS
James Thomas (J.T.) lettered in football, basketball and track at Macon’s Lanier High School. J.T. was the first African American to receive a full athletic football scholarship to Florida State University. The defensive back recorded 83 tackles, 6 interceptions, and 3 blocked kicks as a freshman. He earned All-American honors as a senior. Thomas was a first round draft choice of the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1973 and played all 15 games during his rookie season. The Steelers claimed 4 Super Bowl titles during Thomas’s career. He teamed with Mel Blount to form one of the best cornerback duos in NFL history. In fact Thomas and Blount were named the 6th best cornerback combo in NFL history by NFL.com. Thomas was named to the Pro Bowl in 1976. He played his final professional season in 1982 with Denver ending his 12-year NFL career with 20 interceptions and 2 touchdowns.