[EDITOR’S NOTE: The 2012 SEC Football Legends Class will be announced in two separate releases. In this release, the seven legends from the Eastern Division schools are announced. In tomorrow’s release, the seven legends from the Western Division schools will be announced.]
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (Sept. 13, 2012) – The Southeastern Conference 2012 Football Legends Class includes 14 former SEC stars who have made a name for themselves as great athletes on the playing field. The conference is announcing the legends from its Eastern Division schools today and the Western Division schools on Friday.
This year’s class has Heisman Trophy winners, All-Americans, All-SEC 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 National Football Foundation Halls of Fame.
The class will be honored at the 2012 SEC Football “Weekend of Champions” Nov. 30-Dec. 1 in Atlanta, Ga. The annual SEC Legends Dinner presented by AT&T will be held Nov. 30 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. 1.
Below is a listing and biographies of the 2012 SEC Football Legends representing Eastern Division institutions:
2012 SEC FOOTBALL LEGEND BIOGRAPHIES – EASTERN DIVISION
FLORIDA – Steve Tannen, Defensive Cornerback, 1967-69
A two-year All-SEC choice, Steve Tannen was voted the top defensive back in league in 1969. He is one of ten players with 11+ career interceptions for the Gators. He also returned two punts for touchdowns during his career and was known as a kick blocker on special teams, having blocked three in 1969. He blocked a punt which was returned for a touchdown in 14-13 win over Tennessee in the 1969 Gator Bowl. He was selected as a first-team All-American in 1969. Tannen was taken with the 20th selection in the first round of the 1970 NFL Draft by the New York Jets. He played five seasons with the Jets, where he had 12 interceptions, two blocked field goals and a blocked punt. Tannen graduated from Florida with a bachelor's degree in business administration in 1972, and was later inducted into the University of Florida Athletic Hall of Fame as a "Gator Great."
GEORGIA – David Greene, Quarterback, 2001-04
David Greene started 52 consecutive games over four seasons (an NCAA record), led the Bulldogs to a 42-10 record during that time, four straight bowl games, three straight national top six finishes, two SEC Eastern Division titles (2002 and '03) and the 2002 SEC championship. In 2004, Greene became the winningest Division 1-A quarterback in NCAA history with 42 career victories breaking the old mark of 39 by Tennessee's Peyton Manning. He was named the SEC's Offensive Player of the Year in 2002 after leading Georgia to a 13-1 record, SEC Championship, Sugar Bowl victory, and number three final national ranking. When he left Georgia he was the owner of numerous SEC passing records including Career Passing Yards (11,528), Career Total Offense (11,270), and Most Consecutive Passes without an Interception (214 breaking his own old mark of 176). He was also named a recipient of the National Scholar-Athlete Award ($18,000 scholarship) from the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame.
KENTUCKY – Sonny Collins, Running Back, 1972-75
Sonny Collins finished his career as the SEC’s all-time rushing leader with 3,835 yards. He was a first-team All-SEC selection in 1973, 1974 and 1975 and was the SEC Player of the Year in 1973. Collins continues to holds the Kentucky career record for rushing yardage and also holds school records for rushing attempts (777), rushing touchdowns (26) and 100-yard rushing games (18). He was selected by the Atlanta Falcons as the 8th pick of the 2nd round of the 1976 NFL draft. In a game against San Francisco, Collins set a record when he rushed 31 times for 107 yards. A knee injury ended his career after one year with the Atlanta Falcons. He is a member of the Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame.
MISSOURI – Johnny Roland, Defensive Back/Running Back/Kick Return, 1962, 64-65
One of the top two-way players in Mizzou history, who began his career for Dan Devine as a running back, but switched as a junior to defensive back, where he won All-American honors as a senior in 1965 when he led the Tigers to an 8-2-1 record and a 20-18 win over Florida and Heisman Trophy winning QB Steve Spurrier, in the 1966 Sugar Bowl. He was a three-time All-Big Eight selection, once as a running back (1962), and twice as a defensive back (1964-65). He had six interceptions in 1965 when he won All-American honors, and he also returned punts and kickoffs and came in on offense in red zone situations quite often. As a sophomore in 1962, he was MU’s leading rusher with 830 yards (7th in the NCAA that year), and scored 78 points (9th in the NCAA). His #23 jersey number was retired after his playing days, and he was a 1998 inductee in the NFF Hall of Fame. He went on to a stellar 8-year career in the NFL, where he won Rookie of the Year honors with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1966. Roland then coached for nearly 30 years in the league before his retirement.
SOUTH CAROLINA – Ko Simpson, Safety, 2004-05
Ko Simpson was a two-year starter and letterwinner for South Carolina. He was named first team All-America in 2005 by the FWAA and CBSSportsline.com and was a third team selection by the Associated Press and was a consensus first team All-SEC selection after recording 103 tackles. In 2004, he earned second-team All-America honors by Sporting News and was a FWAA and Rivals.com Freshman All-American after his six interceptions led the SEC. Simpson garnered SEC Freshman of the Year honors by the Associated Press and was a second-team All-SEC selection by both the AP and Coaches. He was selected by the Buffalo Bills in the fourth round of the 2006 NFL Draft and played professionally for both Buffalo and Detroit.
TENNESSEE – Peerless Price, Wide Receiver, 1995-98
Peerless Price caught 147 passes for 2,298 yards and 19 touchdowns over a four-year career at Tennessee, including a Second Team All-SEC season as a senior in 1998 in which he caught 61 passes for 920 yards and 10 touchdowns. Price was named Most Valuable Player of both Tennessee’s national championship-winning effort in the Fiesta Bowl in 1999 catching four passes for 199 yards, including a 79-yard fourth-quarter grab that proved to be the game winner against Florida State. He was also of the 1998 SEC Championship Game against Mississippi State. Price ranks fourth in school history in receptions and receiving touchdowns and third in receiving. Price is a native of Dayton, Ohio, and his 10 receiving touchdowns in 1998 rank tied for fifth in Vol history. A two-time member of the SEC Academic Honor Roll, Price was taken in the second round of the 1999 NFL Draft by the Buffalo Bills. He played nine seasons in the NFL with the Bills, Atlanta Falcons and Dallas Cowboys.
VANDERBILT – Hunter Hillenmeyer, Linebacker, 1999-2002
Hunter Hillenmeyer was a four-year letterwinner at Vanderbilt (1999–2002), seeing action at linebacker in 45 games. A 23-game starter, Hillenmeyer finished his career with 249 total tackles, 165 solo stops and 6.5 quarterback sacks. As a senior middle linebacker, Hillenmeyer earned All-Southeastern Conference after putting together one of the finest statistical seasons ever by a Commodore defender, topping the NCAA with 168 total tackles and the SEC with 116 solo tackles. A stellar student-athlete, Hillenmeyer was selected as one of six Division I-A National Football Foundation National Scholar-Athletes by the College Football Hall of Fame and National Football Foundation. He also became the first Vanderbilt student-athlete in 19 years to earn First-team Academic All-America recognition. He was drafted by the Green Bay Packers in the fifth round of the 2003 NFL Draft, then enjoyed an eight-year pro career with the Chicago Bears.
(E-mail Stan Crawley at email@example.com)