The Southeastern Conference on Tuesday announced its 2016 SEC Football Legends class, a collection of former football standouts who will be honored at events surrounding the SEC Football Championship Game in Atlanta in December.
The 2016 Football Legends Class includes 14 former stars who excelled on the gridiron and helped write the rich history of the sport at their respective institutions. This year’s class includes a Heisman Trophy winner, All-Americans, All-SEC selections 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 college football halls of fame.
The class will be honored at the 2016 SEC Football “Weekend of Champions” Dec. 2-3 in Atlanta, Ga. The annual SEC Legends Dinner presented by AT&T will be held Dec. 2 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. 3.
Below is a listing and biographies of the 2016 SEC Football Legends:
2016 SEC FOOTBALL LEGEND BIOGRAPHIES
ALABAMA – Chris Samuels, Offensive Tackle, 1996-99
Alabama offensive tackle Chris Samuels was the Crimson Tide’s first Outland Trophy winner. A first-team All-American at left tackle as a senior for the Tide in 1999, he was also recipient of the Jacobs Trophy, symbolic of the SEC’s best offensive blocker. Samuels started 42 consecutive games during his Alabama career and was a first-team All-SEC selection in both 1998 and 1999. A crushing blocker and superb pass protector, he did not allow a quarterback sack or quarterback pressure during his entire senior season. Samuels was the third player selected in the 2000 NFL Draft by the Washington Redskins. He spent his entire professional career with the Redskins, playing 10 years while being chosen to the Pro Bowl six times. He was named one of the 80 Greatest Redskins of all time.
ARKANSAS – Shawn Andrews, Offensive Tackle, 2001-03
Arkansas offensive tackle Shawn Andrews was a finalist for the Outland Trophy and Lombardi Award in his junior season with the Razorbacks. A two-time All-American, he was also named the SEC’s 2003 Offensive Player of the Year by College Football News and won the Jacobs Trophy, awarded annually to the best blocker in the Southeastern Conference, in both 2002 and 2003. In 2002, he helped Arkansas lead the SEC and rank fifth in the nation in rushing (241.9 yards per game). In 2002, he became the first sophomore in Arkansas history to earn first-team All-America honors. Andrews was a first-round selection (16th overall pick) in the 2004 NFL Draft by the Philadelphia Eagles and played 10 years in the NFL. He helped lead the Eagles to the NFC title in 2004 and was named to the Pro Bowl three times.
AUBURN – Jason Campbell, Quarterback, 2001-04
Auburn quarterback Jason Campbell was the SEC 2004 Offensive Most Valuable Player and first-team All-SEC while leading the Tigers to a perfect 13-0 record and an SEC Championship. His senior season in 2004, Campbell threw for 2,700 yards and 20 touchdowns and was named the 2004 SEC Championship game MVP after throwing for 374 yards and three touchdowns. A four-year starter, Campbell led Auburn to a 31-9 mark in his 40 career starts, the most wins ever by a starting quarterback in school history. He led the Tigers to three consecutive bowl wins and was the Music City Bowl and Sugar Bowl MVPs in consecutive years. Campbell holds the school record for career passing efficiency and is second in passing yards, total offense, completion percentage and passing touchdowns. A first round pick of the Washington Redskins in the 2005 NFL Draft, Campbell played 10 years in the NFL from 2005-14.
FLORIDA – Steve Spurrier, Quarterback 1963-1966; Head Coach 1990-2001
Florida quarterback Steve Spurrier was the Gators’ starter for three seasons and a two-time consensus All-American, winning the Heisman Trophy in his senior season of 1966. During his record-setting career he passed for more than 4,800 yards and 37 touchdowns. Following a 14-year NFL career, he returned to Florida in 1990 to become the Gators’ head coach. For 12 seasons he led Florida to unprecedented success with his Fun ‘n’ Gun offense, recording Florida’s first six SEC championships and first consensus national championship in 1996. Meanwhile his squads and players set numerous school and SEC records. In 1996, Spurrier became the first Heisman Trophy winner to coach a Heisman winner when UF quarterback Danny Wuerffel won the award. Spurrier later was head coach at South Carolina from 2005-2015. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a player in 1986.
GEORGIA – Jon Stinchcomb, Offensive Line, 1999-2002
Georgia offensive lineman Jon Stinchcomb made early headlines for the Bulldogs as a Freshman All-American, then went on to a stellar career capped by first team All-American honors his senior year of 2002. It was his senior season when he helped lead Georgia win its first SEC championship in 20 years, the same year he was named to the CoSIDA Academic All-America Team for the second year in a row. He also was one of 11 Division I players nationally to be named to the AFCA National Good Works Team for outstanding contributions to community service. A 2002 recipient of the National Football Foundation Post Graduate Scholarship, Stinchcomb was drafted by the New Orleans Saints in the second round of the 2003 NFL Draft, was recipient of the Saints Man of the Year Award for 2008, and was a starting offensive lineman on the Saints’ 2010 Super Bowl Championship team.
KENTUCKY – James Whalen, Tight End, 1997-1999
Kentucky tight end James Whalen had a storybook rags-to-riches collegiate career. After first joining the Wildcats as a walk-on, he eventually became a mainstay in the Kentucky lineup and soon was recognized as one of the best in the country at his position. He earned first-team All-America honors from the Walter Camp Football Foundation, Associated Press, CNN/SI and CBS SportsLIne in 1999. A sure-handed receiver who also earned consensus All-SEC honors, Whalen caught 90 passes his senior campaign, totaling 1,019 yards and 10 touchdowns as he led the nation’s tight ends in all three categories. He also set an NCAA record for most catches by a tight end in a season. Selected by the Tampa Bay Bucs in the 2000 NFL draft, Whalen played four years with the Dallas Cowboys.
LSU – Robert Dugas, Offensive Tackle, 1976-78
LSU offensive tackle Robert Dugas is one of the most decorated student-athletes in LSU history, earning first team All-America honors for his play on the football field as well as his performance in the classroom. Dugas was a 1978 National Scholar-Athlete and was also a first-team Academic All-America selection in 1977. On the field, Dugas earned All-America honors from the Football News as he anchored an LSU offensive line known as the “Root Hogs.” He helped pave the way for LSU running back Charles Alexander who set numerous school rushing records. Dugas was a two-time All-SEC pick in 1977 and 1978 and he earned Academic All-SEC in 1977 and 1978. He later served as team physician for the Nebraska football program for many years before returning to Baton Rouge.
OLE MISS – Kris Mangum, Tight End, 1994-96
Ole Miss tight end Kris Mangum earned first-team All-America honors in 1996 when he served as team captain for the Rebels. A two-time All-SEC selection, Mangum caught 74 passes for 729 yards and four touchdowns during his three seasons with the Rebels, averaging 9.9 yards per reception. He was named the 1996 SEC Most Outstanding Lineman by the Birmingham Monday Morning Quarterback Club, and he finished his collegiate career ranked second among Ole Miss tight ends in passes caught and third in receiving yards. Mangum enjoyed a 10-year career in the NFL with the Carolina Panthers, retiring after the 2006 season as the fifth-leading receiver in franchise history with 151 catches for 1,424 yards and nine TDs and third in team history in games played with 126. He was inducted into the Ole Miss Athletics Hall of Fame in 2008.
MISSISSIPPI STATE – Randy Thomas, Offensive Guard, 1997-98
Mississippi State offensive guard Randy Thomas was a two-year starter for the Bulldog from 1997-98. Thomas was a valuable leader of MSU’s 1998 SEC Western Division championship team that reached the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta. Although he didn’t start playing football until the tenth grade, he started all 24 games of his career at Mississippi State while earning second-team All-America honors by the Sporting News and second-team All-SEC accolades by the Associated Press as a senior. Thomas was selected in the second round of the 1999 NFL Draft by the New York Jets, becoming the highest drafted MSU offensive lineman since 1976 at the time. Thomas played 11 NFL seasons, starting 143 games from 1999-2009 that included stints with the Jets and Washington Redskins.
MISSOURI – Justin Smith, Defensive End, 1998-2000
Missouri defensive end Justin Smith was one of the top pass rushing defensive ends in Tiger history. Smith was a first-team All-American as a junior in 2000 before bypassing his final year of eligibility for the NFL. In his final season as a Tiger, he recorded 97 total tackles and 11 quarterback sacks, both Mizzou season records at the time. In just three years, he established the MU career sacks record with 22.5. Smith went on to become the highest-ever draft pick by a Mizzou Tiger when he was selected with the No. 4 overall pick of the 2000 NFL Draft by the Cincinnati Bengals. He turned in a stellar 14-year NFL career, becoming one of the league’s most feared defenders in seven seasons with the Bengals and the San Francisco 49ers. He was selected for five consecutive Pro Bowls (2009-2013), and was named to the AP All-Pro Team in both 2011 and 2012. Sports Illustrated named him the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2011 and he helped lead the 49ers to Super Bowl XLVII.
SOUTH CAROLINA – Travelle Wharton, Offensive Tackle, 2000-2003
South Carolina offensive tackle Travelle Wharton started 45 of the 47 games the Gamecocks played from 2000-2003. A South Carolina native and high school standout, he was a relentless blocker and highly-decorated player during his college career, beginning with his first season at Carolina as he earned Freshmen All-America honors from The Sporting News in 2000. As a senior in 2003, Wharton played left tackle as he anchored an offensive line that allowed only 10 quarterback sacks the entire season. He was named a team captain his senior year and earned he All-SEC recognition before he was chosen to play in the Senior Bowl. Wharton was selected by Carolina in the third round of the 2004 NFL Draft, and he logged a successful 10-year NFL career with the Panthers and Cincinnati Bengals, starting 111 of the 115 games in which he played.
TENNESSEE – Deon Grant, Defensive Back, 1997-1999
Tennessee defensive back Deon Grant had eyes for the football during his years on Rocky Top, totaling 14 interceptions and 141 tackles in a standout career for the Volunteers. The All-American defensive back had multiple interceptions in three different games during his junior season of 1999, finishing with nine picks and 167 return yards on the season to tie for the lead in the NCAA. Grant helped lead the Vols to the inaugural BCS National Championship in 1998. He remains the last Vol to intercept three passes in a game as he accomplished the feat on Oct. 2, 1999 vs. Auburn. Grant was selected in the second round draft of the 2000 NFL draft by the Carolina Panthers and played 12 seasons in the NFL for Carolina, Jacksonville, Seattle and the New York Giants. He earned a Super Bowl ring with the Giants in their win over New England in Super Bowl XLVI.
TEXAS A&M – Ray Mickens, Defensive Back, 1992-95
Texas A&M defensive back Ray Mickens was an All-American for the Aggies in 1995. A four-year letterman in football, Mickens was a three-time All-SWC selection (1993-94-95). Born in Frankfurt, Germany, he played high school football in El Paso, Texas, where he attracted the attention of the Aggies. During his career at Texas A&M, the Aggies compiled a record of 41-6-1 and was 25-2-1 in the SWC. Mickens started 36 games at cornerback and with his help the Aggie defense ranked No. 3 in the country in total defense his senior season and in 1993 the Aggie pass defense led the country in pass efficiency defense. He was a third-round draft pick of the New York Jets in 1996 and played through the 2003 season for the Jets before suffering a torn ACL and missing the 2004 season. He finished his NFL career playing for the Cleveland Browns (2005) and New England Patriots (2006).
VANDERBILT – Chris Williams, Offensive Tackle, 2005-2007
Vanderbilt offensive tackle Chris Williams arrived on the Vanderbilt campus as an undersized and under-recruited offensive line candidate. He left as one of the greatest lineman in Commodore team history. After adding more than nearly 60 pounds of bulk during his first two years on campus, Williams quickly established himself in 2005, becoming a starter at left guard as a sophomore. Williams later developed into one of the nation’s premier left tackles, earning first team All-Southeastern Conference honors as a senior in 2007. After graduating, Williams was selected as the No. 14 overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears, becoming the first Commodore offensive lineman in more than two decades to be taken in the first round of the draft. Williams went on to enjoy a seven-year NFL career until injuries forced him out of the game in 2014.