Wake Forest to Induct Five Into Hall of Fame
Sept. 16, 2010
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. - Three former NFL players, the school's most decorated track athlete and the winningest tennis coach in school history comprise the 2010 induction class for the Wake Forest University Sports Hall of Fame. The five-member class includes former NFL players Gerald Huth, Bob Grant and George Coghill, along with track great Nolan Swanson and former tennis coach, the late Jim Leighton.
The Hall of Fame induction ceremonies will take place on Friday, November 19 in the Snead Room at Bridger Fieldhouse with the class introduced at halftime of Wake Forest's football game with Clemson at BB&T Field on Saturday, November 20.
Huth, an offensive guard for the Demon Deacons who was named All-ACC in 1953, went on to a stellar career in the NFL that included two World Championships. He was a member of the New York Giants in 1956 and then helped the Philadelphia Eagles to the championship in 1960.
Coghill lettered in both baseball and football at Wake Forest before signing as a free agent with the New Orleans Saints in 1993. A two-time All-ACC honoree, he was a defensive back on Denver's back-to-back Super Bowl championship teams in 1998 and 1999.
One of the first African-Americans to play football for Wake Forest, Grant earned All-ACC honors as a defensive lineman. His NFL career included playing in two Super Bowls for the Baltimore Colts, earning a championship ring in Super Bowl V.
Swanson walked on to the Wake Forest track team as a freshman and promptly won the ACC Championship that same season. He would go on to earn six ACC championships during his career.
Leighton posted a career record of 277-172-2 during his 22-year coaching tenure at Wake Forest. Including his 12 seasons as the head coach at Presbyterian College from 1949-61, Leighton posted a career mark of 434-229-2. A member of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Hall of Fame, Leighton was the author of "Inside Tennis: Techniques for Winning" which was published in 1977.
The addition of this induction class brings the membership in the Wake Forest Sports Hall of Fame to 125.
An aggressive left guard for the Deacons in the early 1950s, Gerald Huth had one of the most decorated NFL careers of any Wake Forest football alum. Huth made an immediate impact on the field for the Deacons and his efforts were rewarded when he was named to the Carolina College's All-Star team in 1952. During his stint at Wake Forest, he started at left guard from 1953-55 and was named second team All-ACC in 1953 in addition to receiving an ACC honorable mention in 1954. A 24th round pick of the New York Giants in 1956, he started eight out of 12 games as a rookie. On December 30th, 1956 the New York Giants defeated the Philadelphia Eagles in Yankees Stadium to give Huth his first of two NFL World Championships. That same year he finished third in the voting for the NFL Rookie of the Year. Drafted by the U.S. Army in 1957, Huth spent a year in Germany where he led the Third Division Fourth Infantry football team to the European Football Championship. He re-joined the NFL in 1959 and started for Philadelphia in 1960. Huth earned his second NFL World Championship by making the game-winning block that propelled the Eagles over the Packers, 17-13 in the 1960 NFL Championship game. When the NFL expanded in 1961, Huth was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings where he would end his NFL career after three seasons. A local hero, he was inducted into the New Albany, Indiana High School Hall of Fame on June 21, 2010. Huth is an active member of the NFL Alumni Association and enjoys spending his time outdoors.
The late Jim Leighton is the first person associated with Wake Forest tennis to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. Already a member of both the North Carolina Tennis Hall of Fame and the Intercollegiate Tennis Hall of Fame, Leighton coached the Demon Deacons from 1962-1984, posting a record of 277-172-2. Before arriving at Wake Forest, Leighton coached at Presbyterian College in Clinton, SC from 1949-1961 where he compiled a 155-57 record. Beyond Wake Forest, Leighton shared his passion for coaching in his book Inside Tennis: Techniques for Winning, which was published in 1977. Since his death, Leighton is best remembered as the namesake of Leighton Stadium, the home of both the men's and women's tennis teams.
A dual-athlete, George Coghill was a menacing force on both the football and baseball field for Wake Forest in the early 1990's. From 1989-1992 Coghill earned varsity letters in both sports, and started at defensive back in all but one of 45 football games during that time. Coghill proved to be most dominant on the gridiron, where he worked his way into the Wake Forest record books with his speed and agility. Coghill ranks fourth in career interceptions in Wake Forest history with 12 and led the defense with four interceptions in both the 1990 and 1991 seasons. On special teams he topped the ACC in punt return average in 1990 and led Wake Forest in that same category from 1990-1992. Coghill's 86-yard punt return at Navy in 1991 ranks as the second longest in school history. His hard work and determination earned him back-to-back All-ACC honors in 1991 and 1992. In 1992, he was a team tri-captain, a third team All-America selection, and played in the Japan Bowl. That same year he helped Wake post a 39-35 comeback victory over Oregon in the 1992 Independence Bowl. On the baseball diamond, Coghill lettered from 1989-1992, leading the team in triples in 1991 and tying for the team lead in stolen bases that same season. Coghill also had a brief stint with the Wake Forest track program his freshman year after noticing his high school triple-jump mark was higher than the Wake Forest record. He broke the school record in Charlottesville, Va. at the ACC Outdoor Championships. A leader on and off the field, Coghill often spent time during the holiday season with children at the Bowman Gray/Baptist Hospital Center dressed as Santa Claus. Upon graduation from Wake Forest, Coghill signed as a free agent with the New Orleans Saints in 1993 and would eventually win back-to-back Super Bowls with the Denver Broncos in 1998 and 1999.
Raised in Jacksonville, NC, Bob Grant has a special place in Wake Forest history as one of the first African-American student-athletes to play for the Demon Deacon football program. Grant enrolled at Wake Forest in 1964 and played under Bill Tate. He was one of three African-Americans to join the team that year, making Wake Forest the first ACC team other than Maryland to have a multi-racial roster. He was a racial equality advocate, a passion that he continued following his playing career by supporting the "Call Me MISTER" program based at Clemson University, designed to guide black males into teaching positions at South Carolina elementary schools. While at Wake Forest, Grant lettered from 1965-67 and was named first team All-ACC as a defensive lineman in 1966. In 1968 he was the 50th overall pick in the NFL Draft, taken in the second round by the Baltimore Colts. He would eventually play in Super Bowl III, one of the most storied football games in NFL history and later won a ring in Super Bowl V in 1971 when the Colts beat the Dallas Cowboys, 16-13.
Nolan Swanson is one of the most decorated and outstanding members of the Wake Forest track & field family. Remarkably, Swanson walked on to the team as a freshman and never looked back. He won the ACC Cross Country Championship that same year and would go on to have similar success in track & field over the next four years. Swanson won two events at the ACC Indoor Championship (the 5,000m in 1997 and the 3,000m in 1999) and four Outdoor Championship events (the 5,000m and the steeplechase in 1998 and 1999), making him a six-time ACC track event champion. He was recognized as the Most Outstanding Performer at the 1999 ACC Outdoor Track & Field Championship and was named team MVP that same season. He was also named to the All-ACC Indoor Team in 1997 and 1998, as well as the All-ACC Outdoor Team in 1998 and 1999. He set the ACC record in the 10,000m his senior year with a time of 28:31.51, a record that still holds today. Swanson still maintains three Wake Forest all-time records in the 3,000m, the 10,000m, and the 3,00m steeplechase. Additional awards and honors include the Arnold Palmer Award in 1998 and selection to the ACC's 50th Anniversary Cross Country Team. In his professional career, Swanson qualified for the 2004 IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Brussels and also placed sixth in the men's open division of the 12,000m at the USA Cross Country Championships.
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