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Hall of Fame honors Ham
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    Former Georgia Southern All-America quarterback Tracy Ham will be one of six members inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, as announced Tuesday afternoon. The National Football Foundation announced the Hall of Fame Divisional Class of 2007 which consists of four players and two coaches.
    The Divisional Class considers players and coaches from the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision (formerly I-AA), Divisions II and III and the NAIA for induction. This year’s class will be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame during the Enshrinement Ceremonies July 19-21 in South Bend, Indiana.
    The 2007 Induction Class includes: Tracy Ham; Joe Kendall (QB at Kentucky State from 1934-36); Frank Sheptock (Linebacker from Bloomsburg {Pa.} from 1982-85); Jessie Tuggle (Linebacker from Valdosta State from 1983-86); Jim Christopherson (coach from Concordia College {Minn.} from 1969-2000); and William ‘Billy’ Joe (coach at Florida A&M from 1994-2004, Central State {Ohio} from 1981-93 and Cheyney {Pa.} from 1972-78).
    Ham started his Georgia Southern playing career in 1983. After just missing out on a playoffs berth in 1984, the following year he led the Eagles to the first of two consecutive NCAA Division I FCS National Championships. What makes the feat even more impressive is considering the championships were won in just the second and third year Georgia Southern became a FCS member.
    He earned First Team All-America honors his senior year in 1986. Even 20 years following his playing days, Ham still holds more than 20 game, season and career records at Georgia Southern and owns 21 playoff game records.
    Ham currently stands sixth all-time among the Georgia Southern leaders in rushing yards (3,212), first in passing yards (5,757), first in total offense (8,969) and first in career passing TDs (34).
    During his All-America senior season, Ham's incredible athleticism landed him in the nation's 'Top 20' in passing efficiency, scoring, total offense and rushing. He was drafted by the Los Angeles Rams in the 1987 NFL Draft and went on to play 13 successful seasons in the Canadian Football League. During his stellar professional career he won two Grey Cups and league MVP laurels in 1989.
    Active in the community, Ham has served as a deacon at Whitesville Baptist Church since 1998 and worked with various organizations including: First Southern Bank (Statesboro) Board of Directors. Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee member; Athletes in Action team ministry; Spokesman for the United Way; Spokesman for Prostate Cancer Awareness; the Boys and Girls Club of Statesboro; and Committee member for Bethesda Home for Boys.
    Once he received word of the well deserving honor all Ham could say was one word.
    “When I first got the envelope all I could say was wow. The ‘wow’ factor came from knowing where we were as a university at that time. I believed what coach Erk Russell said about how we were going to build this program into a great I-AA program. Now when he was telling me about the vision, we were sitting in trailers at the time. So to take that vision and go through the years, there has been a lot of success and progress, not just for the football program but Georgia Southern and the town of Statesboro as well,” said Ham.
    When looking back at people who influenced him along the way, Ham said the list is long.
    “The list is so long. I’d have to say my brothers and sisters have been the biggest influence. I am the youngest of six. Growing up it’s amazing the time they spent with me, instilling in me a hard work ethic even without me realizing it at the time. I understand how much they loved and cared for me while doing all those things they were to help me out,” said Ham, who also mentioned the influence Coaches Erk Russell and Paul Johnson had on his playing career.
    “My brother Don talked to me about being tough. Even though you might be the smallest it was about being tough minded.”
    Of the 4.7 million student-athletes who have played the game just more than 800 have earned the Hall of Fame distinction.
    “We are so proud of Tracy and excited for him. This is a great honor for him and the Georgia Southern Football community,” said Georgia Southern University Director of Athletics Sam Baker. “Tracy played an integral role in the development of the football program. He is well deserving of this award.”
    Georgia Southern University President Bruce Grube observed that Ham was a leader in an era that helped define Georgia Southern today.
    “What you saw on the football field during Tracy’s day was the rebirth of belief in the possibilities of this institution. It spread from the football program into every aspect of the university, and we still have it today. This is a great honor for Tracy and we’re all incredibly proud,” Grube said.
    With 120 chapters and 12,000 members nationwide, The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame, a non-profit educational organization, runs programs designed to use the power of amateur football in developing scholarship, citizenship and athletic achievement in young people.
    The NFF presents the MacArthur Trophy, the Draddy Trophy, presented by HealthSouth, and releases the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) Standings. NFF programs include the College Football Hall of Fame in South Bend, Ind., Play It Smart, and annual scholarships of over $1 million for college and high school scholar-athletes.
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