On Saturday, Sept. 24, the Ole Miss M-Club Athletic Hall of Fame will see five more members join its ranks in ceremonies to be held at 2 p.m. in the Butler Auditorium of the Triplett Alumni Center on campus at the University of Mississippi.
Selected for induction this year are Preston "Pep" Bennett, Angelia Clay, Lan Gooch, Jamey Price and Wesley Walls.
The five honorees will also be introduced as a part of the pre-game festivities for the Rebels' home opener against Wyoming. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium/Hollingsworth Field.
Preston "Pep" Bennett hit the gridiron for the Rebels in 1939 as a member of the freshman football team. His legend grew from there as he took the field as a quarterback for head coach Harry Mehre in the 1941 and 42 seasons. Bennett was named to Baker's Sophomore All-America First Team in 1940.
Following the 1941 season, Bennett enlisted as a pilot in the U.S. Navy to fight in World War II. He served the U.S. in the armed forces until his discharge in 1946, at which time he re-enrolled at Ole Miss, joining the football team for a final season under then-head coach Red Drew.
Upon completion of his bachelor's degree from Ole Miss in 1946, Bennett continued his education, receiving a Master of Education in 1947. During his time at Ole Miss, Bennett was a member of Phi Eta Sigma academic honorary and ODK leadership honorary. He was also a member of the Rebel golf team and Kappa Alpha Order.
Following his graduation, Bennett returned to his hometown of Meridian, Miss., to coach until 1950, at which point he moved to Clarksdale, Miss., to pursue a career in farming. Bennett served as a Southeastern Conference official for five years following completion of his degree at Ole Miss. He became a sustaining member of the National Football Foundation Hall of Fame in 1980, and was named as a recipient of the Distinguished American Award from the Ole Miss Chapter of the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame in 1998.
In 2000, Bennett was honored with the Bill Wade Pioneer Unsung Hero Award by the All-American Football Foundation.
Bennett is married to the former Gene Thomas. The couple has a daughter, Penelope "Penny" Frazer; a grandson, Preston Bennett Frazer; and a great-grandchild, Katherine Elizabeth Frazer.
"I'm pleased to receive the honor of being inducted into the M-Club Athletic Hall of Fame," Bennett said. "This is a wonderful group of athletes, and it is exciting to be included among such a great group of athletes from Ole Miss. I have never enjoyed anything more than I enjoy being a part of Ole Miss."
Angelia Clay came to Ole Miss from Hollandale, Miss., in 1992 and became a force on the track for the Rebels.
Clay became the first Indoor/Outdoor All-America selection in the history of the Ole Miss women's track program after earning All-America status her junior indoor season (1994) and senior outdoor season (1996).
During her first season, Clay broke the school outdoor record in the 400m and finished second on the all-time list for the 100m and 200m. She also took a fifth-place finish in the 400m at the TAC Junior Nationals and was a part of the 1600m relay team that set Ole Miss Invitational Records and Ole Miss Track records.
Throughout the course of her career, Clay continued to set new school marks in events as she made her presence known on the track. Clay set the school record in the 400m during her senior season at the Olympic Trials and also participated in the 200m at the Olympic Trials. She also set the school record in the 200m when she finished sixth at the SEC Championships, and placed third in the 400m.
Clay was an NCAA Championships participant for three seasons and claimed several top finishes for the Rebels on the conference and national level as she posted 10 top-10 finishes in the SEC Championships, including five top-five finishes. She also finished in the top 10 at the NCAA Championships twice. She finished seventh in the 400m both times.
"It's a great honor and I am excited and looking forward to it," Clay said. "I think being inducted at such a young age makes me appreciate it more. I never saw this happening. My goals when I was running track were always short term and in the season - making All-SEC and qualifying for NCAA meets. Competing was my passion and it was something I looked forward to every day."
Lan Gooch arrived at Ole Miss from Houston, Miss., in the fall of 1985 and it wasn't long before he became a part of history with the Rebel golf team.
In his four-year career with the Rebels, Gooch was a part of an Ole Miss squad that posted 13 top-10 finishes on the season and finished fourth at the NCAA Championships in 1985 to kick-start a career that saw him win four letters. Following his freshman season, Gooch competed in the U.S. Amateur.
Gooch posted several individual accomplishments throughout his career for the Rebels, and still finds his name emblazoned in the record books almost 20 years after his career in the Red and Blue came to an end. The golfer is one of 10 Rebels to compete in the NCAA Championships as an individual, firing a 78-80-158 in the NCAA Championships after advancing from Regional play.
Gooch followed up his freshman season with a solid outing again as a sophomore in 1986, finishing fourth at the SEC Championships behind teammate Chip Sullivan who claimed medalist honors. He also claimed medalist honors at the Dixie Intercollegiate that season.
A two-time All-SEC selection in 1987 and 1988, Gooch was also named an Honorable Mention All-America selection following his senior campaign in 1988. That season, he also claimed medalist honors at the SEC Championship with a score of 70-70-69-209.
Following his collegiate career, Gooch went on to continue his life on the links, working as a golf professional. He continued playing in professional tournaments and tours, before making the cut for the Professional Golf Association (PGA) Tour in 1998. He qualified for the tour with a six-under-par score of 423 after the six rounds of qualifying.
"Many of my childhood heroes are members of the M-Club Athletic Hall of Fame," Gooch said. "I am deeply honored to be asked to join a part of such a special group of people. It was humbling and a surprise when I found out, but it is a real thrill for me to be included in this group of people."
Jamey Price, a native of Pine Bluff, Ark., came to Ole Miss from Texarkana Junior College in the fall of 1993 and helped lead the Rebels to within one game of the College World Series. The squad fell to Florida State in the Regional Finals in Tallahassee in 1995, but Price was a big part of the excitement that was Ole Miss Baseball that season and the years prior.
His senior season saw Price earn All-SEC and All-America honors as he posted an 11-6 mark for the Rebels with a 1.72 Earned Run Average. He also set the single-season strikeout record with 118 strikeouts in 141.0 innings of work. Following his senior campaign, Price was drafted by the Oakland A's in the sixth round. The right-hander Price was also named to the Smith Super Team, also known as the National Collegiate All-Star Team, as named by the National Collegiate Baseball Writer's Association.
As a junior, Price was equally impressive, posting a 9-1 record after an 8-0 start that tied a 36-year-old record for best start for a pitcher at Ole Miss. His 2.78 ERA for the season was seventh in the SEC, while he had the third-best record and second-best winning percentage in the conference for the year. He also held opponents to a .195 batting average, the best in the league for the year.
Price is married to the former Michelle Roberts. The couple has three children - Katelyn (6), Madelyn (4) and Ashlyn (1).
"I'm excited about it and extremely honored to be included in the induction," Price said. "This is something that never entered my mind that I would be selected for. We had a good team and I couldn't have done the things I did without that. A lot of the credit goes to those guys. I was totally surprised when they called me. It means the world to me to be a part of that and to have been a part of Ole Miss Athletics. I would have liked to have gone all the way, but we had a good year and team and a great group of guys. I'm overwhelmed to be included."
Ole Miss football brings to mind many names, but one of the first many people think of is Wesley Walls of Pontotoc, Miss.
As a tight end for the Rebels, Walls earned several accolades, including selection to the Athlon Sports All-Time Rebel Team. He was also named to the 1980s All-SEC Team.
Walls only played tight end for the Rebels for one season, 1988, but made the most of that time. He was named an All-America First Team selection and was also selected to the All-SEC First Team as he caught 36 passes for 426 yards and three touchdowns.
Prior to moving to tight end, Walls played outside linebacker and defensive end for the Rebels. He posted 106 career tackles before his senior season. He played both ways during his senior campaign. At the conclusion of his senior year, Walls was selected to play in the Senior Bowl and the East-West Game, but was injured and could not participate. He did play in the Blue-Gray Game.
Following the 1988 season, Walls was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in the second round. He spent five years with the 49ers before moving to the New Orleans Saints for two seasons. He then moved to play seven years for the Carolina Panthers before finishing out his NFL career in 2003 with the Green Bay Packers. He was a three-time All-Pro and five-time Pro Bowl selection during his 15-year NFL career.
Walls also excelled in the classroom, earning Academic All-SEC honors for three seasons and earning Academic All-America First Team honors his senior year. The tight end was the recipient of an NCAA Postgraduate scholarship in 1989 and was one of 11 National Football Foundation Scholar-Athletes that same year. He also was named as Ole Miss' selection for the Clower-Walters Scholarship in the spring of 1989.
In 1997, Walls was selected as the Mississippi Professional Athlete of the Year by the Jackson Touchdown Club. He has continued to be closely involved with several charitable organizations since his graduation from Ole Miss.
Walls is married to the former Christy Washington. The couple has three children - Jennifer (19), Alexandra (14) and Colton (12). "I am honored to be selected to the M-Club Hall of Fame," Walls said. "It brings back so many memories of some of the happiest times of my life and best friends of my life. I want to thank so many people who gave me the opportunity to be a part of Ole Miss and the time that I spent there."
UM Athletic Hall of Fame ceremony Saturday
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