For decades, Bradwell Institute sent some of its best football players to the University of South Carolina.
The most legendary Gamecock of them all recently returned the favor.
George Rogers, who won the 1980 Heisman trophy, served as the guest of honor at BI Alumni’s Class of 1978 charity golf tournament June 2 at The Club at Savannah Harbor. Rogers’ presence helped raise money to go to the golf programs at both Bradwell and Liberty County High School, according to Lelia Pray, who along with classmate Hank White Jr., organized and led the event.
“It was a success. I wanted everyone to have a memorable experience and they did,” said Pray, who said the tournament is the first in a series of events planned for the classes of 1973-1983.
In the works are a Liberty All White Party Cookout on Sept. 15 and a Black Tie Gala on Sept. 16.
The June 2 tournament was in memory of the late Spencer Clark, a former Bradwell and Gamecock great who played alongside Rogers.
Clark died in May 2016 in Columbia.
“George said Spencer taught him how to be a running back,” said yet another BI and South Carolina legend, Candler Boyd. “That’s a heck of a compliment.”
Boyd won 15 letters at Bradwell, then played defensive back at South Carolina from 1967-1970. He went on to become a high school educator and coach. It was during his stint as a graduate assistant at South Carolina in 1976 that Clark and his Bradwell teammate Alphonso Stevens signed with the Gamecocks. They both went on to earn degrees in criminal justice in Columbia. Clark finished with more than 1,600 yards rushing during his three-year career.
Boyd credited Stevens with getting Rogers to come to Savannah for the fundraiser and to honor Clark, who stayed in Columbia after graduation – though he reportedly had a shot at the NFL with the Detroit Lions.
The Fleming native was involved in a number of charitable causes and founded his own nonprofit youth foundation in Liberty County, MJM Foundation, in Midway.
“He was just a great guy who smiled all the time,” Boyd said of Clark. “You never heard him say an ill word about anybody. You never heard him complain. He was a guy who took the opportunities presented to him and made the most of them.”
Boyd said the golf tournament was “a first class operation. The course was in great shape, they had great sponsors, and it was good to see some South Carolina people and some Bradwell people out there. And it’s always a pleasure to see George.”
And his Heisman.
Boyd said the trophy went home to spend a week with Riceboro councilman Chris Stacy, who bid highest for the honor.