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Earl's Pearls 10/29

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By Earl Vaughan Jr.

The recent passing of one of E.E. Smith High School’s greatest athletes helped provide the impetus for a group of alumni to finally create the school’s first athletic hall of fame.

L-R Former E.E. Smith basketball coach Roy McNeill watches current Smith girls’ coach Dee Hardy shake hands with former Smith football legend Jimmy Raye.

The initial class of 20 inductees was announced at the Golden Bulls’ homecoming football game with Terry Sanford.

Things got rolling shortly after former Golden Bull and San Diego Chargers standout Doug Wilkerson died in late February. John Brown, a 1966 Smith graduate and a contemporary of Wilkerson’s, began having conversations with other Smith alumni on finding a way to honor Wilkerson.

But their discussions caused them to realize that a school with an athletic tradition as rich as E.E. Smith’s had a number of former stars who deserved to be honored. After holding several Zoom teleconferences, the group agreed to start a hall of fame at Smith.

They reached out to Smith athletic director Darrell Purcell and involved him in the process. They also searched the internet to find information on how other high school halls of fame were organized and what rules and bylaws they had in place.

The group decided it would allow candidates to be judged on accomplishments at the high school, college and professional levels.

Their initial focus was on recognizing athletes who had reached the peak of their profession, playing in the pro ranks, in hopes of avoiding controversy. They also looked in the school’s past and singled out several outstanding coaches who have made contributions over the years.

Looking to the future, Brown said he hopes to add new inductees every year. A standing committee will make the decision and will solicit nominations from the public. He did indicate the early focus will try to stay on getting aging former standouts who are still living inducted as soon as possible.

He hopes that the selection committee will have at least one representative for every decade. “I’m very familiar with the athletes of the late 50s, 60s and 70s,’’ he said. “After that, I need help identifying.”

The actual induction ceremony for the first class is tentatively scheduled Sunday, May 29, 2022, at the Ramada Plaza by Wyndham. 

A permanent location for the Hall of Fame hasn’t been decided. Smith officials are reportedly considering somewhere near the main office where it would be more visible to visitors, but discussions are continuing.

Following is a capsule on each of the inductees in the initial class:

COACHES

D.T. Carter - Graduated from Smith in 1939 and returned as coach in 1952. Won a pair of state football titles. Nationally recognized for his intramural program. 

William J. Carver Jr. - Versatile athlete who starred at Hampton University. Later served many years in administration for Cumberland County Schools and as athletic director at Fayetteville State.

D.S. Kelly - Head football and basketball coach. Won state basketball title in 1950.

Ike Walker Sr. - Member of the 1950 state title team. Returned to Smith in 1960. Coached numerous sports. Took his 1985 basketball team to the state finals.

Latanya “Dee” Hardy - Star basketball player at Smith and UNC-Pembroke. Guided team to conference titles in volleyball and basketball. Her 2020 basketball team shared the 3-A state title. Court at Smith is named in her honor. Only Fayetteville coach to win the NCHSAA’s Toby Webb Award.

Roy McNeill - Played basketball at Fayetteville State. Twice MVP. Coached Smith from 1993-92 with 185-62 record. Won three sectional titles

PLAYERS

Charles Baggett - Record-setting quarterback at Michigan State. Played professionally and spent many years coaching.

Brian Bulluck - Three-sport star at Smith who played for N.C. State and later with the Indianapolis Colts.

Aaron Curry - Played at Wake Forest where he won the Butkus Award and with Seattle and Oakland. Currently defensive assistant and linebacker coach for Seattle.

Russell Davis - Played at the University of North Carolina and as a pro with Chicago, Arizona, Seattle and the New York Giants.

Joey Evans - Versatile athlete who played defensive end at North Carolina. Drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals.

Bishop Harris - Three-sport star who attended North Carolina Central. Later served as the school’s head coach. Spent 14 years as an assistant coach in the NFL.

Joe Harris - Football star who played at Georgia Tech. First Fayetteville player to appear in a Super Bowl game as member of the Los Angeles Rams.

Luther “Nick” Jeralds - Played at North Carolina Central and briefly in the NFL. Later involved in local politics. A Cumberland County middle school and the football stadium at Fayetteville State are named in his memory.

Jimmy Raye - Quarterback for the famed 1966 Michigan State team that won the national championship and tied Notre Dame 10-10. Coached briefly in college before spending 36 years as an NFL assistant.

Mark Smith - Played wide receiver at North Carolina and was drafted by Washington.

Larry Tearry - All-ACC center at Wake Forest. Started two seasons at Detroit.

Demarcus “Tank” Tyler - Starred at North Carolina State. Played with Kansas City and the Carolina Panthers.

Dimitrius Underwood - Played for Nick Saban at Michigan State. Picked by the Minnesota Vikings and played for them, Miami and Dallas.

Doug Wilkerson - Attended North Carolina Central. Drafted by the Houston Oilers and spent 14 seasons with San Diego. Named to three consecutive Pro Bowls.


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