ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - The Georgia High School Football Hall of Fame is proud to celebrate the Class of 2023 and shine a spotlight on the incredible achievements of the Hall’s 40 newest members. The Hall of Fame’s board members began submitting nominees for the second class in early spring and then held committee votes and appeals before the final ballot was narrowed down to 100 names in mid-June. Once the ballot was set, each board member was required to vote for a minimum of two players from each of the eras represented (Pre-1948, 1948-59, 1960s, GIA, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, 2000s) and were to select a total of 40 players from the star-powered 100-person ballot. The ballots were voted on and submitted by June 1, but a seven-way tie for the final two spots and a run-off for a second GIA-era representative forced the board to hold a separate vote-off to complete the process and solidify the 40-player ballot.
Out of the 40 players inducted, 29 were on last year’s ballot and 11 were first-time nominees that made it in—including familiar names like former Thomasville quarterback and UGA standout Mike Bobo and Dan Reeves, who was a starting quarterback at Americus High School before starting at South Carolina, playing eight NFL seasons and spending 27 years as a head coach. The 1990s era is the most represented with 14 inductees, followed by the 1970s (eight), 1980s (four), 2000s (four), Pre-1948 (four), 1960s (3), GIA (two) and 1948-49 (twp).
Last year, 36 players were voted into the inaugural class while nine more that are in the NFL Hall of Fame received automatic entry.
“This was a very different ballot from the inaugural one,’’ said Hall of Fame Executive Director I.J. Rosenberg. “Last year Herschel Walker was on every ballot (35 voters) and four others made it on 30 (85.7 percent) of the ballots. This year the top vote-getters (Reeves and Jon Stinchcomb) were on 31 of the 38 ballots (81.6 percent). If this was the Baseball Hall of Fame where you have to get 75 percent of the votes, only three players would have made it this year. That tells you something about how spread out the talent is and has been for many years in the state of Georgia.’’
A total of 27 of the 40 inductees played at high schools outside of Metro Atlanta. Thomasville, Carrollton, Cartersville, Americus, Lanier-Macon and Stephens County were the six high schools that had two former players earn spots in this year’s class. Class of 1997 Parkview grad and All-American Jon Stinchcomb joins the hall with his older brother Matt, who was inducted last year. Jon Stinchcomb is one of five offensive linemen who were voted in this year and one of the 22 former Georgia Bulldogs in the 2023 HOF class after the school had 13 in the inaugural class. The three pre-1948 players inducted this year all went on to play at Georgia—including Lanier-Macon’s Vernon “Catfish” Smith and Billy Henderson and Georgia Military standout Bill Hartman—who was enshrined in the Georgia Ring of Honor in 1999 and was the first-ever Georgia player to be drafted into the NFL in 1938 before returning to Athens to join the coaching staff. Additionally, all four of the inductees from the 2000′s were Georgia Bulldogs with D.J. Shockley, Charles Johnson, Rennie Curran and Jarvis Jones representing the most recent era of players eligible for the hall.
Former Shamrock offensive lineman and Indianapolis Colts legend Jeff Saturday was one of several players from the 1990s who got in this year after narrowly missing out last year. 1996 Douglass grad Jamal Lewis and 1995 Southwest DeKalb grad Quincy Carter were also top vote-getters after narrowly missing out on the inaugural class.
To purchase tickets to the Second Annual Georgia High School Football Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony this Saturday at the College Football Hall of Fame, click here!
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