July 12, 2007
ATLANTA – National championship football coach Bobby Ross and All-America linebacker Keith Brooking headline the 2007 induction class into the Georgia Tech Sports Hall of Fame, which also includes seven-time track All-American Conrad Nichols and softball All-American Laura Hartman.
The group of four will be officially inducted Friday, Sept. 28, during the annual Hall of Fame Dinner at the Georgia Tech Hotel and Conference Center, and also will be feted at halftime of Georgia Tech’s football game with Clemson the next day.
“The accomplishments of Coach Ross and Keith Brooking, both at Georgia Tech and in the NFL, are well-chronicled. Laura is one of the pioneers in softball and women’s sports here at Tech, and Conrad is another in a long line of top-notch runners and people in our track program,” said Tech director of athletics Dan Radakovich. “Their entry into the Hall of Fame is well-deserved, and we look forward to honoring them in September.”
Ross, who coached Tech to the UPI National Championship and the Institute’s first Atlantic Coast Conference football title in 1990, also went on to a successful head coaching career in the National Football League which included a Super Bowl appearance with the San Diego Chargers. Brooking, a member of Tech football teams in the middle 1990s when the Yellow Jackets began their current string of 10 consecutive bowl berths, also has gone on to stardom in the NFL with the Atlanta Falcons.
Hartman, known as Laura Williams when she became the first softball All-American at Tech, also is the first softball player to be inducted into the Georgia Tech Hall of Fame. Nichols, an outdoor national champion as a member of the 4×400 relay team in 1994, joins a long line of Tech sprinters, both men and women, to be inducted.
Tickets for the Hall of Fame Induction dinner will be on sale beginning in August. They are $50, and can be obtained by calling Barb Dockweiler in the Alexander-Tharpe Fund at 404-894-6124.
Keith Brooking, Football (1994-97)
Georgia Tech’s all-time leading tackler with 467, linebacker Keith Brooking earned second-team All-Atlantic Conference honors in 1997 and was the team captain of Tech’s 1997 squad that started the Jackets’ current bowl streak of 10 years in a tow. Brooking led Tech in tackling three straight years (from 1995 to 1997, also leading the ACC as a sophomore and ranking second as a junior and fifth as a senior. One of the highlights of his career was his outstanding performance in leading Tech to a victory in the 1997 Carquest Bowl, in which he made 15 tackles, two tackles for loss and an interception against a West Virginia team that included future NFL players Marc Bulger at QB, Amos Zereoue at RB and Jerry Porter at WR. The Senoia, Ga., native became the No. 12 pick in the 1998 NFL draft by the Atlanta Falcons, one of only nine first-round draft picks in Tech history, and he has been named to the Pro Bowl five times.
Conrad Nichols, Men’s Track and Field (1992-96)
An outdoor national champion as a member of Tech’s 4×400-meter relay team in 1994, Conrad Nichols set school records in the indoor 2-mile relay, the outdoor 4×800-meter relay and the outdoor sprint medley relay during his stellar career. He was a 7-time All-American (1992 indoor mile relay, 1993 indoor 800 meters, 1994 indoor 800 meters and 4×400-meter relay, 1994 outdoor 800 meters and 4×400-meter relay, 1996 outdoor 4×400-meter relay), as well as an 8-time ACC champion (1992 indoor mile relay, ACC meet record); 1993 indoor 800 meters and 2-mile relay; 1993 outdoor 800 meters; 1994 indoor 800 meters and 4x400m relay; 1994 outdoor 800 meters and 4×400-meter relay, ACC meet record). Nine times he earned All-ACC honors for his performances in the conference meeting, including the 1992 indoor mile relay; 1993 indoor 800 meters and 2-mile relay; 1993 outdoor 800 meters and 4×400-meter relay; 1994 indoor 800 meters and 4×400-meter relay; and the 1994 outdoor 800 meters and 4×400-meter relay.
Laura (Williams) Hartman, Softball (1993-97)
One of the pioneers in Georgia Tech women’s athletics, Laura Hartman became the Yellow Jackets’ first softball All-American and only first-team selection in team’s history in 1997. She also was named ACC Player of the Year that season, capping a career in which she was named All-ACC four times, still the only softball player in Tech history to accomplish that. The shortstop also was the ACC Rookie of the Year in 1994 and twice was named to the ACC All-Tournament team (1996, 1997). Hartman also excelled in the classroom, being named to the NCAA Academic All-American team in 1996, three times to the Academic All-District III team, and was an ACC Academic Honor Roll selection four times. Hartman remains Tech’s career leader in batting average, on-base percentage, base hits, triples and stolen bases.
Bobby Ross, Head Football Coach (1987-91)
Bobby Ross spent only five years at Georgia Tech, but he left a lasting imprint on its football program. Tech won its fourth national championship under Ross in 1990, also capturing the Institute’s first Atlantic Coast Conference title in football that year.
Ross and the Yellow Jackets overcame 2-9 and 3-8 records his first two years while building the talent level in the program to post records of 7-4, 11-0-1 and 8-5 the last three years. Tech also went 15-5-1 in the ACC his last three years. The United Press International voted Tech its national champion in 1990 following the Yellow Jackets’ 45-21 victory over Nebraska. The next year, his last at Tech, the Jackets went 8-5 and finished the season with an 18-17 win over Stanford in the Aloha Bowl.
Among his many honors at Tech were National Coach of the Year in 1990 by Kodak/American Football Coaches Association, UPI, Walter Camp, Bobby Dodd Award, Football Writers Association of America (Bear Bryant Award), Chevrolet/CBS-TV, The Sporting News, Football News and Scripps-Howard. He also was named Atlantic Coast Conference Coach of the Year in 1990. He coached two first-team All-America players (Ken Swilling, Marco Coleman) and nineteen All-ACC honorees. Seventeen players he coached at Tech were drafted by NFL teams, and two of his assistant coaches, Ralph Friedgen and George O’Leary, are now head coaches at Division I institutions. Ross went on to become an NFL head coach in San Diego, which he led to the Super Bowl in 1995, and Detroit.