BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - The Southeastern Conference on Thursday announced its 2019 SEC Football Legends class, an assemblage of former football standouts who will be honored at events surrounding the SEC Football Championship Game in Atlanta in December.
The class will be honored at the 2019 SEC Football "Weekend of Champions" December 6-7 in Atlanta, Ga, highlighted by the annual SEC Legends Dinner on Friday, December 6 at the Hyatt Regency in Atlanta. The group will also be recognized prior to the SEC Football Championship Game, which will be held at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Saturday, December 7.
The 2019 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 All-Americans, All-SEC selections and Academic All-Americans as well as successful head coaches. The group represents teams that won National and SEC Championships, participated in Super Bowl titles and are represented in state, school and college football halls of fame.
Below is a listing and biographies of the 2019 SEC Football Legends:
2019 SEC FOOTBALL LEGEND BIOGRAPHIES
ALABAMA - Ray Perkins, Wide Receiver, 1964-66/Head Coach, 1983-86
Ray Perkins lettered from 1964-66 as a wide receiver on three Southeastern Conference championship teams and two national championship teams at Alabama. As a senior he caught 33 passes for 490 yards and seven touchdowns, earning All-America honors as he capped his senior year with 178 yards receiving in the Crimson Tide's 34-7 Sugar Bowl win over Nebraska. Perkins was drafted by the Baltimore Colts and played in the NFL for five years, including appearances in Super Bowls III and V. After his playing career, Perkins established himself as a head coach, beginning with the New York Giants from 1979-82. Perkins succeeded Paul "Bear" Bryant as Alabama's head coach, compiling a 32-15-1 record and three bowl victories from 1983-86. He followed that with a stint as head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 1987-90 and as head coach at Arkansas State in 1992. He was inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in 1990.
ARKANSAS - Dennis Winston, Linebacker, 1973-76
Winston lettered from 1973-76 and was selected to the UA All-Century Team in 1994. He led the Razorbacks with 13.0 tackles for loss and four fumble recoveries as a senior. He recorded more than 200 tackles, including a team-high 97 in 1974, and helped the Razorbacks to the 1976 Cotton Bowl where they defeated Georgia 31-10. Winston was named national Defensive Player of the Week by Sports Illustrated following his 19-tackle performance in the 22-7 win over No. 5 USC in 1974. He was selected in the fifth round of the 1977 NFL Draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers and played 11 seasons for the Steelers and New Orleans Saints. Appearing in 143 games, Winston helped the Steelers to consecutive championships by winning Super Bowls XIII and XIV and is one of only six former Razorbacks to play in multiple Super Bowls. He is a member of the UA Sports Hall of Honor, the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame and the Southwest Conference Hall of Fame.
AUBURN - Karlos Dansby, Linebacker, 2000-2003
Karlos Dansby was a linebacker at Auburn from 2000-03, earning All-America honors as a senior in 2003. During his All-America campaign, he had 84 tackles, 5.5 quarterback sacks, 13 tackles for loss and four caused fumbles while helping an Auburn defense that finished fifth nationally in total defense. A two-time first-team All-SEC selection, Dansby recorded 218 tackles, 10 sacks, 31 tackles for loss and eight interceptions. The 2003 Atlanta Touchdown Club Defensive Back of the Year, Dansby helped Auburn to a pair of SEC Western Division titles. He was a second-round pick of the Arizona Cardinals in 2004 and enjoyed a 14-year NFL career with four teams. A second-team All-Pro in 2013, Dansby is one of five players in NFL history to record 40 sacks and 20 interceptions in their career. He concluded his career with 1,417 tackles, 43 sacks, 127 tackles for loss and 20 interceptions in 212 career games.
FLORIDA - Jevon Kearse, Outside Linebacker, 1996-98
Jevon Kearse, also known as "The Freak," came to Florida as a free safety, but became a legend as an outside linebacker. Kearse was a first-team All-SEC selection as a sophomore in 1997, though his 1998 season was one of the most dominant in school history. Kearse racked up 54 tackles, 7.5 sacks, and 13.5 tackles for loss in just 11 games. Those numbers made him a first-team All-American, a Chuck Bednarik Award finalist and the Associated Press SEC Defensive Player of the Year. Kearse declared for the NFL Draft following his junior season and was chosen in the first round by the Tennessee Titans. Kearse was the 1999 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year and a first-team All-Pro selection. Kearse made three Pro Bowl appearances in his 11-year career with the Titans and Philadelphia Eagles.
GEORGIA - Vince Dooley, Head Coach, 1964-88
In Vince Dooley's 25 years as head football coach (1964-88), he guided the Bulldogs to a career record of 201-77-10 becoming only the ninth coach in NCAA Division I history to win over 200 games. The Bulldogs won one national championship (1980) and six SEC titles under his direction. He took his teams to 20 Bowl games and coached a Heisman Trophy winner (Herschel Walker, 1982), a Maxwell Award Winner (Walker, 1982), an Outland Award Winner (Bill Stanfill, 1968), 40 First Team All-Americans and 10 Academic All-Americans. He was named NCAA National Coach of the Year in 1980 and SEC Coach of the Year seven times. Under his watch as athletic director (1979-2004), Georgia teams won 23 national championships, 78 SEC team championships and numerous individual national titles in both men's and women's sports. In recognition of his achievements, the field at Sanford Stadium was named in his honor on September 7, 2019.
KENTUCKY - Oliver Barnett, Defensive Tackle, 1986-89
Oliver Barnett spent much of his collegiate career in the opponent backfield as a pass-rush terror at the University of Kentucky. During his time as a Wildcat, he set school records with 43 tackles for loss, 26 quarterback sacks, and 12 forced fumbles. He earned All-America honors as a senior and All-Southeastern Conference accolades his final two seasons at Kentucky. After his Wildcat days, Barnett played in the Senior Bowl and Blue-Gray all-star games before being selected by the Atlanta Falcons in the NFL Draft. He totaled six NFL seasons with the Falcons, Buffalo Bills and San Francisco 49'ers, including a trip to the 1994 Super Bowl with the Bills.
LSU - Johnny Robinson, Halfback, 1957-59
Starring on both sides of the ball for LSU in the late 1950s, Johnny Robinson earned first-team All-SEC in 1958. He was a member of LSU's 1958 national title team playing alongside Heisman Trophy winner Billy Cannon for three years. Robinson finished his LSU career with 893 rushing yards, 453 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns and was then selected No. 3 overall by the Detroit Lions in the 1960 NFL Draft and first round draft pick by the Dallas Texans in the 1960 AFL Draft. He played 12 seasons in AFL/NFL, winning Super Bowl IV with the Kansas City Chiefs. Earlier this year, he was inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, recognized for his lead in AFL interceptions in 1966 and NFL interceptions in 1970. Robinson is also a member of LSU Athletic Hall of Fame, Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame, and Kansas City Chiefs Hall of Fame. In 2019 he was named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
OLE MISS - Jonathan Nichols, Kicker, 2001-04
One of the most decorated kickers in Ole Miss history, Jonathan Nichols earned All-America and All-SEC honors during his Rebel career, while being recognized as the nation's top place-kicker in 2003 and receiving the Lou Groza Award. Following his 2004 senior season, Nichols had set 15 school records, including the all-time leading scorer mark with 344 points, which ranked sixth at the time on the SEC career scoring list. He finished his career with 117 consecutive PATs made, ranking as the nation's longest active streak at the time and the fifth-longest in SEC history. A 2018 Ole Miss Sports Hall of Fame inductee, Nichols continues to hold many of those records he set, including single-game marks for most field goals (6) and most points by kicking (21); single-season bests for most points scored (124), most points scored by kicking (124), most field goals (25); and career records for most consecutive extra points (117), and best extra point percentage (1.000 for 3 different seasons).
MISSISSIPPI STATE - Barrin Simpson, Linebacker, 1996-99
Barrin Simpson is one of the greatest linebackers in Bulldog history. An All-American and two-time All-SEC selection, Simpson totaled 296 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, five sacks, 30 QB pressures and three interceptions during his four-year career from 1996-1999. As a senior, he became the first Bulldog linebacker to receive First-Team All-America laurels since 1981. Simpson was the leader of a defensive unit that finished No. 1 in the nation in total defense en route to the program's first 10-win season since 1940, a No. 12 final national ranking and a Peach Bowl victory over Clemson. In one of the most remarkable defensive performances in Egg Bowl history, Simpson collected a career-best 23 tackles, one forced fumble and one recovered fumble in a 1999 MSU victory. Simpson went on to a successful 10-year career in the CFL, earning the league's Most Outstanding Rookie Award in 2001 as a member of the BC Lions and becoming a six-time All-Star. Simpson now coaches high school football in the state of Texas.
MISSOURI - Jeremy Maclin, Wide Receiver, 2007-08
After missing the 2006 season due to a knee injury, Jeremy Maclin burst onto the scene in record-setting fashion and became MU's first-ever freshman to earn first-team All-American honors. He broke the NCAA single-season freshman record for all-purpose yards, amassing a whopping 2,776 yards (1,055 receiving, 1,039 KO return, 375 rushing, 307 punt return). Maclin scored 16 total TDs, to become one of the most dynamic players in all of college football and was the only player in Division I in 2007 to score TDs in all four all-purpose categories. He repeated with consensus first-team All-American honors in 2008 as he led the NCAA in all-purpose yardage (202.36 ypg) and broke MU single-season receiving records with 102 receptions, 1,260 yards and 13 TDs. In just two years, he broke the MU record for career all-purpose yardage, with 5,609 yards. He closed his career with Offensive MVP honors in the 2008 Alamo Bowl. Maclin bypassed his final two years of collegiate eligibility and entered the 2009 NFL Draft, where he was taken with the No. 19 overall selection in the first round by the Philadelphia Eagles.
SOUTH CAROLINA - Fred Zeigler, Flanker, 1967-69
Fred Zeigler was a standout flanker for the Gamecocks in the 1960s. After walking on to the program and playing for the freshman team in 1965, he was redshirted for the 1966 season. He then led the team in receptions in each of the next three seasons, earning first-team All-ACC honors in both 1968 and '69, while leading the Gamecocks to the 1969 ACC title and a berth in the Peach Bowl. He completed his collegiate career as the school's all-time leader in receptions and receiving yards. He was named to the South Carolina Athletics Hall of Fame in 1994 and to the USC Athletics Hall of Fame in 1995. He was later ranked among the Top 50 players in Gamecock history by The State newspaper in 2015. Zeigler earned a bachelor's degree in 1970 and graduated from Carolina Law School in 1974 before embarking on a successful career as an attorney specializing in litigation.
TENNESSEE - Darwin Walker, Defensive Line, 1997-99
Darwin Walker was a two-time All-SEC first-team defensive tackle at Tennessee and a leader on the 1998 undefeated national championship team. After transferring from NC State in 1996, Walker appeared in 35 games and recording 119 tackles, 14 sacks and 19 TFLs for the Orange and White from 1997 to 1999, while earning his degree in civil engineering. Walker had six sacks and 46 tackles en route to All-SEC first-team honors in 1998 as Tennessee went undefeated and won the first BCS National Championship. In 1999, Walker served as a captain for the Vols and repeated on the All-SEC First Team. The Walterboro, S.C., native was selected in the third round of the 2000 NFL Draft and he went on to play nine seasons in the NFL with the Arizona Cardinals, Philadelphia Eagles, Chicago Bears and Carolina Panthers, appearing in 109 games with 84 starts. During his NFL career, Walker built his own engineering firm and today he is a commercial real estate developer who owns several Bojangles, Panera Bread and Wawa franchises.
TEXAS A&M - Ed Simonini, Linebacker, 1972-75
The ringleader of some of the most feared defenses of the 1970s, Texas A&M linebacker Ed Simonini was a consensus All-American and Lombardi Award finalist in 1975 when the Aggies led the NCAA in rushing defense and total defense and allowed just 9.5 points per game. Simonini led the Aggies in tackles three straight years and was named to the All-Southwest Conference Team in each of those seasons (1973-75). He was the SWC's Defensive Player of the Year twice and a member of the SWC's All-Decade Team of the 1970s. He finished his career as the Aggies' all-time leader tackler with 425 stops and he still owns the school's freshman tackles record with 98 in 1972. He was drafted by the Baltimore Colts in the third round of the 1976 NFL Draft and played seven seasons in the NFL.
VANDERBILT - Jovan Haye, Defensive End, 2002-04
A two-team defensive captain for the Commodores, Jovan Haye earned All-Southeastern Conference honors from league coaches in 2003. A native of Jamaica who came to Vanderbilt by way of Dillard High School in south Florida, Haye was a three-year starter on the Commodore defensive front. He finished his collegiate career with 149 total tackles, including 10.5 quarterback sacks, 17 tackles for loss and four forced fumbles. As a sophomore in 2003, Haye ranked among SEC leaders with 12.5 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks. Haye spent six years in the NFL, playing for Carolina, Cleveland, Tampa Bay, Tennessee and Detroit. In 2019, Haye has served as Vanderbilt's defensive line coach, his first year as a position coach.