Stars that excelled on the gridiron, diamond, hard courts and track as well as in the pool and on the sidelines were honored Friday night at Christus Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium.
It was the fifth class of the Tyler ISD Athletic Hall of Fame, one that included standouts who shined on and off the field.
The group was inducted and introduced on Earl Campbell Field prior the 62nd meeting between John Tyler and Robert E. Lee in football.
The 2017 Hall of Fame Class includes:
Morgan Denson, Tyler Lee, athlete: track, swimming, cross country;
The late Royce Franklin, John Tyler, coach: football, basketball, track;
John “Mutt” Heller, Tyler High, John Tyler, athlete: football, basketball, track;
The late C.M. Marks, Emmett Scott, coach: football, basketball, baseball;
D’Angelo Newsom, John Tyler, athlete: track;
Clayton Stanley, Tyler Lee, athlete: tennis;
Dr. Ken Talkington, Tyler High, athlete: football, basketball and baseball;
1967 and 1968 John Tyler baseball teams
Inductees were selected based on their high school achievements, post-high school accomplishments and other contributing factors, Greg Priest, Tyler ISD athletic director, said.
Most said it was a surreal feeling, basking in the applause of fans of their alma maters and sharing in moments with family and friends.
Priest presented each individual a trophy while the PA announcer listed their accomplishments.
“It is a great honor … a lot of good times, good teammates and good coaches,” said Stanley, who won state singles and doubles championships while at Lee. “Living in Dallas, I don’t get over to Tyler much, but this brings back a lot of great memories.”
Stanley’s wife, Kristin, along with their children Luke, 6; Noah, 4; and Emma, 2, were on hand and even young Luke was flashing the “Hook’em Horns” as his father was both Southwest Conference and Big 12 Conference champion at the University of Texas.
Denson was one of the rare three-sport athletes, excelling in the pool, track and in cross country. Her coach, Don Branum, and her family were on hand. Denson was a four-year letter winner in cross country, swimming and track and ranked fourth in her graduating class. She was also team MVP and captain in all three sports, as well as a state champion in swimming.
Coach Franklin was represented by his wife, son Kenn and granddaughter and her husband. His grandson, Walker, was playing for Grace Community on Friday night, but Kenn said his son was so proud of his grandfather who led JT to the state basketball finals in 1976 and was an assistant coach on the 1973 JT state football championship team.
Newsom, who was one of the fastest runners in the country in high school and college, shared the night with his family and friends, including fellow stars Patrick Jackson, brother Anthony Newsom and Orlando “Lumpy” Wickware.
Coach Marks, who led Emmett Scott to numerous district championships in football, basketball and baseball, was represented by his daughter, Shirley. He coached football (19 years), basketball (17 years) and baseball (19 years) at Emmett Scott. His Bulldogs football team won seven district titles while tying for another in compiling a record of 116-67.
Marks’ basketball teams went six years without losing a district game (1955-61) with each making the state semifinals in the Prairie View Interscholastic League held at Prairie View A&M, his alma mater.
His baseball teams won three state championships and were runner-up two other times.
Dr. Talkington, of Arlington, was a member of the 1955 Tyler High football team that finished as state runner-up. He later played quarterback at Texas Tech.
“To say this is an honor, is putting it mildly,” he said. “Our group was blessed to come along when we did. We had so many great athletes. I can’t express how much of an honor it is. Growing up in Tyler with the players, coaches, the teachers, the people, we were so thankful.”
Heller and his wife flew in from Raleigh, North Carolina, on Friday to be a part of the festivities and ceremony.
Heller played at both Tyler High and JT where he was all-district all three years in track & field and in basketball. Heller graduated from JT in 1959 and played and lettered in basketball, track and swimming at The University of Texas at Austin.
The JT baseball teams earned back-to-back state tournament appearances in 1967 and 1968.
“What an honor,” said Danny Palmer, the current Tyler Junior College football coach who was a member of the JT state tournament team in 1967.
Palmer, who was inducted individually, last year, was so happy to share the award with his teammates.
Some 19 members of the Lions’ two state tourney teams were on hand. The squad was coached by the late Dr. Billy Jack Doggett. The Lions placed third in state in 1967 and 1968.
The district encourages community members, parents and alumni to nominate candidates who have demonstrated character, citizenship, success and leadership during his/her affiliation with the Tyler ISD athletic program. To nominate someone for the 2018 class, visit tylerisd.org and click on “Athletics” for a nomination form. Athletes, coaches and contributors must have graduated or no longer be a part of the school district for at least five years before being considered. Tyler High, Emmett Scott, JT and REL graduates are eligible.
A committee will review the applications and select the initial inductees.
Prospective candidates can be former athletes, coaches, teams or someone who contributed substantially to the athletic program (e.g. faculty, administrator, media, community leader, etc.).
Nominees will be selected based on their high school achievements, post high school accomplishments and other contributing factors.
To be considered for the Athletic Hall of Fame, an athlete or contributor must be nominated.