Aug. 21, 2011
By Mike Stamus
– Two national players of the year – golf’s Bryce Molder and baseball’s Mark Teixeira – as well as Atlantic Coast Conference tennis player of the year Benjamin Cassaigne, Georgia Tech’s all-time leading receiver Harvey Middleton and two-time All-ACC punter Rodney Williams make up the 2011 class of the Georgia Tech Sports Hall of Fame.
The group of former student-athletes will be inducted on Wednesday, Nov. 9, at the annual Hall of Fame Induction Dinner at the Georgia Tech Hotel and Conference Center. Tickets for the dinner are $50 and can be purchased through the Alexander-Tharpe Fund at 404-894-6124. They will also be honored during Tech’s football game against Virginia Tech on Thursday, Nov. 10, at Bobby Dodd Stadium.
“We are excited to welcome this 2011 class into the Georgia Tech Sports Hall of Fame,” said Tech director of athletics Dan Radakovich. “Bryce Molder and Mark Teixeira are two of the greatest student-athletes in the history of the Institute and continue to represent Georgia Tech extremely well on the professional level today. Harvey Middleton and Rodney Williams were key performers who helped re-vitalize our football program in the latter part of the 1990s, and Benjamin Cassaigne served a similar role for our men’s tennis program. We’re proud that they will become members of our Hall of Fame.”
Molder and Teixeira were cornerstones for Georgia Tech’s golf and baseball teams that were highly competitive on the national level at the turn of the century. Molder played on Yellow Jacket golf teams that won two ACC titles, were runner-ups at the NCAA Championship in 1998 and 2000 and won 14 tournaments in four years. Teixeira helped the Tech nine win 129 games between 1999 and 2001, including a 2000 season in which the Jackets won 50 games, captured the ACC Championship and hosted an NCAA Super Regional for the first time.
Middleton and Williams played a big role in beginning the streak of 14 consecutive bowl appearances that the Tech football program boasts today. They helped the Yellow Jackets go 7-5 and win the Carquest Bowl in 1997, when Middleton was a senior, and the next year Williams finished his career helping the Jackets post a 10-2 mark, win a share of the ACC title and defeat Notre Dame in the Gator Bowl.
Cassaigne, a three-time All-ACC choice who won the conference singles championship as a senior, was part of a strong Georgia Tech men’s tennis team in the late 1990s. He led the Yellow Jackets to a runner-up finish in the 1999 ACC Championship and a berth in the NCAA Tournament in current head coach Kenny Thorne’s first year.
Following are brief bios on the 2011 Hall of Fame class:
Benjamin Cassaigne, Tennis (1997-99) – Photo Gallery
Cassaigne made the All-Atlantic Coast Conference team three times (1997, 1998, 1999) and was named ACC Player of the Year after winning the ACC singles championship as a senior in 1999. He won 67 matches (67-29 record) in three years, and posted a 39-30 mark in doubles. A native of Paris, France, Cassaigne had a 2-0 record in NCAA regional team competition and played in the NCAA championship singles competition in 1997 and 1999. He made the ACC Academic Honor Roll three times (1997, 1998, 1999). His 31 singles wins in the 1996-97 season were the second-most all-time at Tech (head coach Kenny Thorne won 43 matches in 1987-88, Guillermo Gomez won 34 in 2010-11). Cassaigne went 25-6 in 1998-99, a winning percentage of 80.6, which ranks as the seventh-best all-time at Tech.
Currently living in Paris, Cassaigne played professionally and rose as high as 337 in singles and 211 in doubles on the ATP World Rankings.
A first-team All-ACC choice in 1996, Middleton finished his career as Georgia Tech’s all-time leading receiver, setting school records for career receptions (165) and receiving yards (2,291). He remains in the top five in both categories. Middleton bettered the previous Tech record for career receptions by 50. The Jamestown, S.C., native scored 13 career touchdowns, at the time the third best career total in school history. He caught at least one pass in every game he played, a school-record 41 straight games, and led Tech in receiving three straight years (1995, 1996, 1997). Middleton led the ACC in receptions and receiving yards in 1996 with 64 catches (at the time, the Tech season record) and 804 yards. He captained Georgia Tech’s 1997 squad that started the Jackets’ current bowl streak.
Middleton played two seasons in the NFL for Philadelphia.
Bryce Molder, Golf (1998-01) – Photo Gallery
A first-team All-American in 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2001, Molder is one of only four players in NCAA Division I golf history to be named a first-team All-American by the Golf Coaches Association four times. A native of Conway, Ark., now living in Scottsdale, Ariz., Molder also was named All-Atlantic Coast Conference in 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2001. As a senior, Molder captured all of the National Player of the Year Awards in 2001 (Fred Haskins Award, Jack Nicklaus Award, Golfweek Player of the Year, Dave Williams Award). He won the Jack Nicklaus Award twice (also in 1998) and was named ACC Player of the Year three times (1999, 2000, 2001). He tied David Duval’s school record of eight career tournament victories, including an ACC Championship in 2000. Molder set the all-time NCAA season (69.43, since broken) and career (70.69) scoring average records, both of which still stand at Tech, and was an Academic All-American in 1999, 2000 and 2001.
Molder earned two top-10 finishes in NCAA Championships (1998, 2001), and helped Tech to a second-place, a third-place and a fourth-place finish at the Championship in his four years. He also posted three top-5 NCAA regional finishes and four top-10 ACC Championship finishes in four years. Molder helped Tech win 14 tournaments in his four years. He was named Academic All-America Team Member of the Year in 2001 and was a Golf Coaches Association All-America Scholar in 2000, 2001. He is one of three Tech athletes ever to win the NCAA Today’s Top VIII Award (2001), and one of only two college golfers to win the award (Tech’s Roberto Castro is the other). Molder played on the U.S. Walker Cup team and the U.S. Palmer Cup Team in 1999 and 2001.
Mark Teixeira, Baseball (1999-01) – Photo Gallery
During his three years at Tech, Teixeira earned a long list of honors, including the 2000 Dick Howser Trophy (National Player of the Year), 2000 ACC Player of the Year, 2000 consensus first-team All-American, 1999 National Freshman of the Year, 1999 ACC Rookie of the Year and 1999 second-team All-American. He was named to the All-ACC first team twice (1999, 2000).
The third baseman from Baltimore, Md., batted .409 during his three-year career while slugging 36 home runs and 165 RBI. He ranks third in school history in career batting average (.409) and second in slugging percentage (.712), and holds the school record for most runs scored in a season with 104. As a sophomore in 2000, Teixeira batted .427 with 18 home runs and 80 RBI, posting the sixth-best batting average for a single-season in school history. That performance helped Georgia Tech win the 2000 ACC regular season and tournament championships as well as the NCAA Atlanta Regional title.
Teixeira has played in the major leagues for nine years, including stops in Texas, Atlanta, Los Angeles (Angels) and New York (Yankees), and currently lives in Greenwich, Conn.
A two-time first team All-ACC selection (1997 and 1998) and a third-team All-American in 1997, Williams holds school records for season punting average (45.64 in 1997) and single-game records for punting average (53.3 vs. Duke in 1997) and punting yards (553 vs. Florida State in 1997). A native of Decatur, Ga., Williams was a finalist for the 1998 Mosi Tatupu Award and a senior leader of 1998 team that shared the ACC Championship.
A four-year starter from 1995-98, Williams was drafted in the seventh round (252nd pick) of the 1999 NFL Draft by St. Louis, played six seasons in the NFL for St. Louis, Washington, New York (Giants), Seattle and Kansas City, and currently lives in Decatur.