Five named to 2011 Hall of Fame
Induction to be held Oct. 29July 31, 2011 · Athletic Communications
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - This centennial year has produced a star-studded Hall of Fame Class in 2011 at Middle Tennessee. Named to the Blue Raider Athletics Hall of Fame are a talented quintet representing five decades and three sports, and include All-Americans, Conference Players of the Year and numerous other awards and achievements.
The Class of 2011 includes football defensive star and kick returner Raymond Bonner, baseball record-setter Buford "Mudcat" Brewer, track All-American Jacqui Brown, record-setting placekicker Kelly Potter and All-American fullback Terry Sweeney. These five honorees become the 113th -117th members of the Hall of Fame.
Raymond Bonner was one of the first two African-Americans that Hall of Fame Coach Bubber Murphy signed to Middle Tennessee football scholarships in 1969, out of Franklin County High School in Winchester. Bonner validated Murphy's keen eye for talent by being inducted into the Blue Raider Athletic Hall of Fame in 2011.
Bonner started at cornerback for four years, and was part of Middle Tennessee's memorable "Mod Squad" defensive backfield that terrorized opponents around the Ohio Valley Conference. In his junior season, Bonner was given the added duty of returning punts full-time, and he also excelled at that. In 1971, Bonner returned 31 punts for 219 yards and two touchdowns. His 7.1 yds/return average ranked third in the nation, and his pair of TD returns is still the school record for both a single season and a career.
Because of his blazing speed and athletic ability, Bonner was never beaten deep on a pass play during his career. He was named All-OVC in 1972, and an Outstanding College Athlete of America in 1973. His 4.45 time in the 40-yard dash, and his ability to return punts got Bonner drafted in the 10th round of the 1973 draft by the Detroit Lions, but a suspected heart murmur ended his career.
He earned his B.S Degree from Middle Tennessee in 1973, and also got his M.Ed in Administration and Supervision in 1978. After a stint in the Navy, Bonner got into high school and then college coaching, most of it in Georgia. He won numerous Coach of the Year awards and sent many student-athletes on to college and also to the pro ranks.
When Buford "Mudcat" Brewer ended his baseball career at Middle Tennessee, he was ranked first, second, or third in nine offensive categories, and 17 years later, upon his induction into the Blue Raider Athletic Hall of Fame, he is still ranked in the Top Ten in all of these career categories.
The Smyrna, Tenn. native was a hitting machine. In the four seasons that he played at Middle Tennessee, he had 33 home runs (3rd on the all-time list), 159 RB's (2nd), hits 245 (1st), Runs 163 (2nd), doubles 51 (1st), and total bases 415 (1st). Known as an aggressive batter, Brewer could not be intimidated by brush-back pitches, finishing his career as the leader in the Hit-By-Pitch category. He was plunked 24 times, including nine times in one season.
Playing for Coach Steve Peterson, Brewer was a starting outfielder all four years, and was named to the All-Ohio Valley Conference team in both 1993 and 1994. He was the OVC Player of the Year in 1993 and was the OVC tournament MVP in '94. He helped lead the Blue Raiders to NCAA tournaments in 1991 and 1994.
When his college playing days were over, Brewer was drafted by the Colorado Rockies. He returned to Murfreesboro, and has been teaching and coaching baseball in the area. He is presently Assistant Principal at Brown's Chapel Elementary in Rutherford County.
Track standout Jacqui Brown, whose career was highlighted by earning All-American status four times in the 1994 season, and she is only the 6th female inducted into Middle Tennessee's Athletic Hall of Fame.
Brown, another in the long line of track and field greats at Middle Tennessee, had perhaps the most highly-acclaimed year in MT women's track and field history. In 1994, she earned All-American honors in both the triple jump and long jump, indoors and outdoors, at the NCAA championships.
The native of Evanston, Ill., was challenged early on by Hall of Fame head coach Dean Hayes. "When coach Hayes recruited me, he said my success would be based on how hard I was willing to work. I set early goals of wanting to be an OVC champion and an All-American."
To say the least, she reached her goals. In addition to the All-American credentials, she also took home seven of a possible eight OVC championships in the triple and long jumps from 1991-94. And her 42'-2" mark in the triple jump still stands as the best ever in the OVC, 17 years after her last meet.
Brown said Hayes instilled the axiom "perfect practice makes perfect" in her. "Just practicing did not make perfect in his eyes. He pushed me to focus on perfect practice."
But, jumping was not this Hall of Famer's only elite set of skills. Hayes also had Brown join his 4 x 100 meter relay team and she did not disappoint him. When it was all said and done, she and her relay team members had sprinted to the school's all-time best clocking of 44.87, a record that also still stands today.
Brown is the second member of the 1994 OVC championship team to enter the Blue Raider Hall of Fame, joining Dionne Rose who was inducted in 2006.
One of the more storied journeys in Blue Raider football lore resulted in former walk-on wide-receiver/defensive back Kelly Potter being inducted into Middle Tennessee's Athletic of Fame, not as an every-down player, but as the most prolific kicker in school history.
Early in his days on the Blue Raider team, Hall of Fame coach Boots Donnelly gave Potter a chance to demonstrate his kicking skills in practice. Potter had handled some kick-offs for his high school during his senior year, among his other roles on the team.
The rest is history. Potter went on to dominate the Ohio Valley Conference in kicking, earning a spot on the prestigious OVC All-Half Century team. He was also picked to the elite Kodak/AFCA All-America 1st team in 1984. He ended his career as the Blue Raiders' all-time scoring leader with 261 points.
"I was willing to do whatever the team needed," noted Potter. I was confident I could help the team in whatever role they asked me to fill. But, I also knew I had a lot of support from my teammates; they really made me feel a part of the team."
The product of Father Ryan High School not only was very dependable in field goal accuracy, but was feared by every foe for his long-range kicking skills. His longest was a 57-yarder against Tennessee Tech in 1982.
Potter was a key cog in Middle Tennessee's success from 1981-84 as the Blue Raider's began their run of 12 consecutive winning seasons with records of 6-5, 8-3, 8-2, and 11-3. The 11-3 1984 squad earned the school's first appearance in the NCAA Division 1-AA playoffs.
Terry Sweeney made a name for himself at Middle Tennessee as both a player and a coach for the Blue Raider football teams in the mid-1950s and 1960s. A native of Lawrence, MA, he came south to play football and stayed here the rest of his life.
Recruited by the University of Tennessee in 1953, Sweeney stayed with the Vols for two years before getting married. He transferred to MTSC in 1955, and played both fullback and cornerback for the Blue Raiders. Sweeney was instrumental in getting Vol teammates Gerald DeLucca and Jerry Hurst to transfer to MTSC as well, where they both starred and went on to play pro football.
In 1955 Sweeney earned All-Ohio Valley Conference honors, and led the team in rushing with 563 yards and a 5.1 average. In 1956, the offense changed and Sweeney became more of a blocker. "They wanted me to knock people down, and that's what I did," he recalled. He was the team co-captain along with Ben Hurt, and led the team to their first bowl ever, the Refrigerator Bowl in Evansville, Ind. Sweeney again gained All-OVC recognition, and added three All-American honors (AP, Williamson Mid-Bracket, NAIA) to his resume. He was drafted by the Baltimore Colts, and spent one season with them.
Returning to MTSC, he began his collegiate coaching career after a coaching stint at Sevierville High School. Sweeney joined the Blue Raider staff in 1963, and stayed thru the 1967 season. He was a coach on the Grantland Rice Bowl team in 1964, and the unbeaten team in 1965.
After leaving Middle Tennessee's staff, he coached Bradley County High School briefly, then entered the business world where he remained until his retirement.
The class of 2011 will be inducted at 4 pm on Saturday afternoon, October 29th, in ceremonies at the Rose & Emmett Kennon Athletic Hall of Fame Building. The induction is free and open to the public. It will be held prior to the Middle Tennessee-Louisiana football game in Floyd Stadium at 6:30 that evening.
Follow the Blue Raiders on Twitter @MTAthletics for continued updates.
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