The 16th annual Liberty County Athletic Hall of Fame was held Dec. 12 at the Liberty County Community Complex in Midway. At the event four of the five athletes voted to be inducted were honored and presented their plagues.
The first Bradwell alumni inducted was Robert LeBlanc. The 1997 Bradwell Institute graduate, was an All-Region football and was nominated to play in the GACA All-Star game after his senior season at BI. He was also named to the All-Coastal Empire Team as a senior.
LeBlanc had 8.5 sacks as a senior helping BI to a 10-2 record and was also a goalie for the Tiger soccer team. LeBlanc received a football scholarship at Georgia Southern University where he was a key defensive tackle on two NCAA 1-AA National Championship teams. He was a Southern Conference All-Team selection his senior season finishing his GSU career with 132 tackles, 6.5 sacks, 8 tackles for loss and 6 deflected passes.
LeBlanc couldn’t be at the ceremony but his mother accepted the honor on his behalf. She said she remembered her son played nearly snap of the game under Bradwell football coach Jim Walsh.
“If he needed to come out he would raise his hand,” she said. “He would sit for a few minutes and then back in he went.”
Ivan Bullard was introduced by his father Howard Bullard. Bullard graduated BI in 1989 and was a standout running back and punter for the Tiger football team as well as the 1988 Georgia state champion in the shot put in his junior year.
Bullard was named All-Region 3-AAAA in 1987 and 1988 in football and was Honorable Mention All-State in 1988 per the Atlanta Journal Constitution. Bullard also lettered one year in golf for BI. Bullard accepted an appointment to the US Naval Academy where he played running back for the Midshipmen.
His dad said he began his football career in the military youth programs when he was stationed in Germany. He said the first time his son took the field for tackle football he got wiped out by an opponent. Instead of shying away from the sport he took his dad’s advice of running through them.
“That put him on the path to do better,” dad said. Dad said he was honored to be able to witness his son be inducted especially in front of his two grandchildren.
Ivan Bullard said passion is what made him successful. He shared that he didn’t start playing high school football until Coach Clifford Johnson “politely” asked why he was wasting his freshman year in band.
Greg McCormack was introduced by his friend and brother-in-law Chuck Smith. McCormack was a 1972 BI grad and four-year letterman in football, two-year letterman in track and one year in baseball for the Tigers, culminating his senior football season by being named Honorable Mention All-State running back by the Atlanta Journal Constitution. McCormack played iron-man football seeing time on the offense as a running back and on the defense as a linebacker. He rushed for close to if not more than 1,000 yards in 1971.
Smith said McCormack never left the field and was a popular kid in school. McCormack said he couldn’t believe it’s been 50 years since he played the sport. He recalled the BI team trailed Vidalia 26-0 in a vital game of the season.
He said Coach Johnson gave them a stern speech and switched the defense for the second half and the Tigers won 28-26.
Edward Jones was introduced by his cousin Henry Jones. The 1987 BI graduate was a pivotal gridiron competitor who played key roles on BI’s 1985 Region Championship team (11-2-1) and 1986 Region Championship Team (13-1), both of which made the South Georgia Championship game, the final four. Jones was a star wide receiver, defensive back, punt and kick returner his junior and senior years. He was the leading scorer for the Tigers’ basketball team his senior year leading the team to the state playoffs. Jones received scholarship offers from Valdosta State University, Savannah State, Georgia Southern, West Georgia and Clark College. He accepted a football scholarship at Clark College, now Clark-Atlanta University, where he was named to the All-AUC Freshman team, All-AUC Honorable Mention (as a junior) and helped lead his team as a senior to the SIAC Conference Championship.
Edward Jones recalled playing recreation football with Craig Stafford and others in attendance.
“Our coach was Kenny Fussell,” he said. “We had two plays, Edward runs to the right or Edward runs to the left,” he said.
He thanked Coach Clifford Johnson for taking a chance on him in high school.
“I was a 14-year old freshman when he had me returning punts and running plays with the varsity,” Jones said. “In 10th grade he made me a varsity starter. Later he made me a wide receiver and it gave me a chance to go to college.”