Imagine graduating from Troy University after a spectacular athletic career and then having the honor of returning 10, 20 or even 50 years later to join other illustrious names in the Sports Hall of Fame.
Eight more former student-athletes and coaches had the privilege of being inducted as the Sports Hall of Fame’s third class on Saturday, March 29.
Each of the inductees remarked about how the campus has changed over time and their admiration for the Trojan Arena.
“I would have loved to play here in this arena,” said former basketball player Anthony Reed. “And to see where Troy has come from to where it is now is just amazing. They’ve done just an amazing job.”
The 2014 members included pitcher Danny Cox, golf coach Mike Griffin, versatile football player Perry Griggs, running back Ted Horstead, basketball player Anthony Reed, head football coach Rick Rhoades, defensive lineman Osi Umenyioria and basketball player Paul Word.
Cox ended his Trojan career with a 17-7 overall record and has the third best ERA in Troy’s history with 2.31.
He continued on after his time at Troy to be a 13th round draft pick in the MLB with the St. Louis Cardinals and also played for the Toronto Blue Jays, Philadelphia Phillies and Pittsburgh Pirates.
“It was an honor that was unexpected,” Cox said. “Something that was very humbling to be the second of part of a baseball program, Chase Riddle being the first, come in and be inducted in the first class and myself being the second baseball participant coming in in the third year, it’s pretty tough to put into words.”
Griffin collected 1,581 wins during his 11-year career with the Trojans and also won three NCAA Division II championships.
During his career at Troy, he was also the No. 1 player three out of his four years as a student-athlete and won the 1968 and 1969 Alabama Collegiate Conference individual championship.
“It’s pretty exciting to have a chance to come back to a very large family reunion,” Griffin said. “It’s like old home time.”
Cheerful and adaptable, Griggs was a three-time All-American player who held Troy’s all-purpose record for over 30 years.
It was not until 2010 that Jerrel Jernigan, who went on to be an NFL receiver, broke the record. Griggs was selected by the New York Jets in the fifth round of the NFL Draft and also played for the Baltimore Colts.
In his sophomore year, Horstead rushed for 1,123 yards in a 12-1 Trojan season and won the NCAA Division II title.
This made him the first player in Troy history to rush for over 1,000 yards in a season. Although his playing career was cut short his senior year due to an injury, Horstead continued to be involved in coaching youth football.
A true record-setter in Trojan basketball, Anthony Reed is the all-time leading scorer by more than 100 points.
Reed began playing in 1986 under head coach Don Maestri and averaged a double-double during his senior year and 24.4 points a game, which is still the current record.
Reed also holds the records for free throws made and free throws attempted.
As one of the three coaches in Troy’s history who has led the football team to win a national championship, Rhoades holds a special place of distinction.
After 12 straight wins and a 14-point win over Portland State in the title game, he was named the National Coach of the Year for the spectacular 1987 season.
“It’s especially great to bring more recognition to the great young men that I had a chance to coach,” Rhoades said. “Everything that has been done here has been done in a first class manner and the other thing is the university has still not lost touch with its constituency.”
A record-breaker in both Troy University and the NFL’s history books, defensive end Osi Umenyiora set a single-season record of 20.5 tackles for loss in 2002 and it was only broken by his fellow Atlanta Falcons teammate Jonathan Massaquoi in 2010 with just one more tackle for loss.
In 2003, Umenyiora was picked by the New York Giants in the second round of the NFL Draft and led the NFC in sacks in 2005.
During his time on the basketball team, Word helped the Trojans make it to a pair of Alabama Collegiate Conference regular season championships.
He led the team in scoring by averaging 17.4 points and 10.9 rebounds per game in his last two years. Word went on to have a successful coaching career, winning 614 in 38 years.
In the chancellor’s message before the third class was inducted, he referenced the Northwestern athletes being allowed to form a union and said that Troy University would go bankrupt paying for the amount of skill that currently plays for the school.
He also talked about how he was optimistic for the football team to make it to a bowl game this year and their bowl game options will be increased.
During the ceremony each inductee’s achievements were briefly shared and an interview was played of each person’s thoughts on Troy and the honor it is to join fellow members such as previous basketball coach Don Maestri, NFL success defensive lineman DeMarcus Ware, and head athletic trainer John “Doc” Anderson.
The new Sports Hall of Fame members received a medal, a plaque and a ring. Umenyiora was the only inductee who was unable to attend the ceremony.
Chancellor Jack Hawkins Jr. was also recognized for his birthday and the crowd sang happy birthday as he blew out his candles.