Hardeman, Ga. Tech '52 Team Honored This Weekend

LaFayette HS, Baylor School Grid Star

Friday, September 14, 2012 - by B.B. Branton

Leon Hardeman was “too short” according to Georgia football coach Wally Butts who passed on offering a scholarship to the north Georgia prep sensation.

Ga. Tech coach Bobby Dodd saw something coach Butts didn’t and later would say Hardeman was the best runner to ever play at Ga. Tech’s Grant Field.

In 1948, West Point (Ga.) high school head coach Carlton Lewis described Hardeman as the best he ever saw.

West Point was 13-0 and state champs that season and escaped with a 19-18 win (most points scored that season by an opponent) over LaFayette and Hardeman in the regional finals.


At 5-8, Hardeman wore a 42 size jacket, had a 31-inch waist and could run with the best of them.

All-city and all-state in high school – he played at Trion, Lafayette and Baylor School (1946-49) – Hardeman was a two-time All-American, rushed for 1,790 career yards and was the 1953 Sugar Bowl MVP for coach Dodd’s Ramblin’ Wreck Yellow Jackets.

“Leon had great balance, could cut on a dime and used his blockers well,” said Dick Inman who was Hardeman’s teammate at LaFayette HS and roommate at Ga. Tech.

The 1952 season was special as Tech was crowned national champs (12-0 and Sugar Bowl champs) by the International News Service, had an unheard of six All-Americans, beat two bowl game winners and three top-20 teams.

 Honored This Weekend: Hardeman and Dick Inman and other members of the SEC champion ’51 and ’52 Ga. Tech squads will be honored Saturday at halftime of the Tech-Virginia game at Bobby Dodd Stadium. (3:30 p.m., ESPNU)

On Friday afternoon, a ceremony on campus will be held to unveil a Bobby Dodd statue.

“We had a really good teams in 1951 and ‘52 and it will be good to see some of my teammates this weekend,” said Hardeman whose Lafayette HS jersey number is retired.

“We played several tough opponents in those years, but to beat Georgia was a high point since they were our biggest rival,” stated Hardeman who helped beat the Bulldogs three straight years.

He was so revered in LaFayette that many football fans would either attend Tech home games in Atlanta on many a fall Saturday afternoon or listen to the games on the radio. One sports writer suggested the town name be changed to Hardemanville.

A couple of high school highlights showed Hardeman scoring the winning touchdown against Rossville and future Ga. Tech teammate Pete Brown in 1948 and scoring three touchdowns in his final high school game for Baylor in 1949.

In the Rossville win, the Ramblers orchestrated an 80-yard scoring drive in the second quarter for what proved to be the winning touchdown. Hardeman accounted for all 80 yards in the rain on runs of 40, 30 and finally 10 yards to reach the end zone.

LaFayette High School did not have a 12th grade in the late 1940s so after their junior year, students had to attend other schools for the final year. Hardeman played one year (1948-49) for Baylor, was school athlete of the year and earned all-state honors.

Ga. Tech Football, 1951-52 … 23-0-1 (11-0-1, 12-0-0) … tied Duke, 14-14, in 1951 … beat Baylor in the 1952 Orange Bowl and beat Ole Miss in the 1953 Sugar Bowl.

1952 All-Americans (6): Pete Brown  (center, Rossville HS), Leon Hardeman (running back), Buck Martin (end), Hal Miller (tackle). Bobby Moorhead (def. back), George Morris (linebacker).

Leon Hardeman Honors 

Halls of Fame (4); City of Chattanooga, Baylor School, Ga. Tech, state of Georgia

Jersey Retired: LaFayette High School

High School: All-City, All-State

College: All-SEC, Two-time All-American

College: led Ga. Tech to three bowl wins (1951-52-53), three wins against rival Georgia and was voted 1953 Sugar Bowl MVP.

Baseball: Played high school, college and semi-pro

Military: Inman and Hardeman faced each other as opposing U.S. Army coaches in the service football playoffs in Germany in the mid-1950s ... Hardeman’s team won that game in the quarterfinals in 1955, but lost in the semis … Inman’s team also lost in the semis in 1956. 


Contact B.B. Branton at William.branton@comcast.net


FOOTBALL     FRIDAY, OCTOBER 19 Father Ryan at Baylor Bradley at William Blount Brainerd at Tyner Central at Hixson Notre Dame at Chattanooga Christian Cleveland at Ooltewah East Hamilton at Anderson Co. East Ridge at Howard Grace at Mt. Juliet Christian Sunbright at Lookout Valley Loudon at Marion ... (click for more)

PHOTOS: Sale Creek Drops Watertown; Moves On To Finals

Soddy Daisy High ROTC Instructor Denies He Had Gun In Road Rage Incident, But Judge Sends Case To Grand Jury

A Soddy Daisy ROTC instructor has denied having a gun in a road rage incident with a 17-year-old girl at Northgate Mall, but General Sessions Court Judge Gary Starnes bound the case to the Grand Jury. The judge said,"It's a very close issue. It's he said, she said. I don't think it's going to get out of the Grand Jury, but I am going to find there is probable cause." The girl ... (click for more)

Federal Judge In Nashville Tells State To Halt Suspension Of Drivers Licenses Of Those Who Cannot Pay

 A Nashville federal judge has directed that the state halt suspension of the drivers licenses of people who cannot afford to pay fines and court costs. The ruling was from District Judge Aleta Trauger. Officials of the Department of Safety and Homeland Security said, "The department has received the order.  It will stop suspensions of licenses, as the Court requires, ... (click for more)

Drink Up, Chattanooga

I attended the meeting to discuss the placement of the sewage treatment plant at the Cambridge Center in Ooltewah today. My problem with the meeting (aka) dog and pony show, is that the meeting started out with the agenda of the Ooltewah Community Council.  After living in this area for 45+ years I have never heard of this group.  I would like for someone to answer ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Dear Faux Pelini

It has been my experience that of all the tribes and herds of different people on earth, sports writers are among the funniest people of all. Oh, there isn’t anything real sexy about Villanova beating Georgetown or a baseball player hitting for the cycle. Now, if a player hits a single, double, triple and homer in that order, that’s “a natural cycle,” and that is kind of fun to ... (click for more)