BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The Samford University Athletics Department inducted its fourth class into the Athletics Hall of Fame in ceremonies on the Samford campus Saturday afternoon and evening.
Included in the class were football standouts Efrem Hill and Bobby Jackson, multi-sport star and former coach Virgil Ledbetter, volleyball standout Michaela Reesor Bromelow, track and field standout Michael Seaman and former head football coach Pat Sullivan. The class was supposed to be inducted in the spring of 2020, but the induction was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Honored is the first word I go to,” Bromelow said when asked of her feelings on being inducted into the Hall of Fame. “Learning that I am joining a great group of individuals, athletes and people that are a part of the Hall of Fame is very honorable. I was surprised, a lot of these individuals are full of experience in life, and to know that I get to be a part of that group is awesome.”
In addition to the Hall of Fame inductees, long-time Samford supporters and Board of Trustee members Vic Nichol and Bill Stevens were honored with the John C. Pittman Lifetime Achievement Award.
The evening began with a reception for the inductees and their guests in the Hall of Fame, which is housed on the third floor of the Pete Hanna Center. Another reception, including everyone attending the event, was then held in the lobby of the Wright Center. The night was then concluded with the induction ceremony in the Wright Center auditorium.
The four living inductees, Hill, Jackson, Bromelow and Seaman delivered their inductee speeches during the ceremony. Ledbetter’s grandson, Charles, delivered a speech on his behalf, and Sullivan’s wife, Jean, spoke on his behalf.
“This is an honor,” Hill said. “Samford has done so much for me, not just athletically, but as a person. It’s just a great honor to be inducted.”
Seaman said he was surprised to learn of his induction into the Hall of Fame.
“It was shocking,” Seaman said of learning of his selection. “I felt like I was pretty young (to be going into a Hall of Fame). But, realistically, with Samford track and field specifically, it has changed so much since I got here and was lucky enough to break a bunch of records that don’t stand anymore because that is how much the program has grown.”
Long-time Sullivan family friend and former Samford Deputy AD Larry Long said he feels like Sullivan would be happy to share this honor with everyone who helped him achieve the things he accomplished throughout his storied career.
“Pat would certainly be honored by this,” Long said. “What you get with Pat is, Pat is so humble about things that he is going to share this honor with those that have been involved from the beginning. Not just his family who has always backed him up with his lovely wife Jean, but the assistant coaches that have been here and all of the players that have passed through. He is going to give them credit for the honor that he is receiving today.”
Jackson, who played for legendary coach Bobby Bowden at Samford, said he was elated to get the news he was being inducted into the Hall of Fame.
“This is a thrill,” Jackson said. “I am excited and humbled. The thing that I am most proud of is that I am the first player under Coach Bowden that has been given this honor, so I am thankful for that.”
Ledbetter said attending this event to represent his grandfather was a great honor and it has allowed him to learn a lot about the impact he had on student-athletes at Samford many years ago.
“It’s kind of mind blowing how much he has contributed,” Ledbetter said of his grandfather. “Seeing all of the people’s lives he has impacted is awesome.”
Below is a short bio on each of this year’s inductees:
CLASS OF 2020
Efrem Hill was one of the top receivers to ever play football at Samford. He had a breakout season as a junior in 2003, tallying 92 receptions for 1,387 yards. Following the 2003 season, he was named the Ohio Valley Conference Offensive Player of the Year and Male Athlete of the Year. He was also named a consensus All-American and was a finalist for the Walter Payton Award. During his senior season, Hill again led the team with 71 catches for 984, and was named first team All-OVC. He left school as the program’s all-time leader in receiving yards and still ranks in the top five in the category. After his senior season, he signed as an undrafted free agent with the Carolina Panthers. He spent time on the practice squads for the Panthers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Cleveland Browns. He later played in the CFL for the Edmonton Eskimos and Saskatchewan Roughriders. He also spent time with the Georgia Fire in the Professional Indoor Football League.
CLASS OF 2020
Bobby Jackson played football at Samford from 1959 to 1962, playing under legendary head coach Bobby Bowden. He was a starter on both offense and defense for the Bulldogs. He was also on the punt and kickoff return teams. During his Samford career, Jackson rushed for 2,084 yards and 27 touchdowns, and he averaged 7.3 yards per carry, the highest average in school history. He led the team in rushing in both 1960 and 1961, and in 1960, he averaged a career high 9.6 yards per carry. Jackson earned Little All-America accolades following the 1962 season. Jackson went into coaching after his playing career was over. He coached at Shades Valley High School in 1963 and 1964. He then went into college coaching, spending time on the staffs at Florida State, Kansas State, Louisville and Tennessee. Jackson later coached in the NFL with the Atlanta Falcons, San Diego Chargers, Phoenix Cardinals, Washington Redskins, St. Louis Rams and Miami Dolphins.
CLASS OF 2020
Virgil Ledbetter served Samford as both a student-athlete and coach. He played multiple sports at Samford (then Howard College) from 1939-42. During his coaching career, Ledbetter coached football, basketball and baseball at Samford. In football, he was an assistant coach in 1956 and again from 1959-62, and he was the program’s head coach from 1957-58. Ledbetter was the school’s head basketball coach from 1955-59, and again from 1963-65, and he was the school’s head baseball coach from 1956-65. In 1964, Ledbetter authored a book, Coaching Baseball, which is still found in many libraries. He also served as a professional scout for the Brooklyn Dodgers. As a tribute to Ledbetter, Samford established the Virgil Ledbetter Fund in 1988 to assist the baseball program in various ways. As a further tribute, Ledbetter was inducted into the Samford Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006.
MICHAELA REESOR BROMELOW
CLASS OF 2020
Michaela Reesor played volleyball at Samford from 2011-14 and is one of the most decorated players in program history. She left school with career records for kills (1,639) and attempts (4,107). She posted three of the top single-season kill totals with 497 in 2013, 445 in 2014 and 439 in 2012. She played on two teams that won the Southern Conference Tournament and earned NCAA Tournament bids, and another that won a Southern Conference North Division title. She was named first team All-SoCon in 2012 and 2013, and she was named SoCon Player of the Year in 2013. Reesor was named SoCon Female Athlete of the Year for the 2014-15 academic year, and she was an NCAA Woman of the Year Top 30 nominee in 2015. Reesor also played on the Canadian Women’s National Volleyball Team.
CLASS OF 2020
Michael Seaman was an outstanding pole-vaulter for the Samford University track and field team from 2009-12. His stellar career included being an impressive five-time All-American. He was also a four-time Southern Conference champion, and left Samford as the school record holder in the indoor and outdoor pole vault, and the Southern Conference record holder in the indoor. He qualified for five NCAA Championships, two indoor and three outdoor. In the 2011 outdoor season, Seaman earned second team All-America status with a 16th-place finish at the NCAAs and improved on that in the 2012 indoor season, where he placed sixth to earn first team honors, his best career finish. He won three-straight indoor SoCon championships in 2010, 2011 and 2012, setting the SoCon record in 2012 with a height of 5.45m. He also won the outdoor SoCon title as a junior in 2011.
CLASS OF 2020
Pat Sullivan is one of the most recognizable names in college football. The 1971 Heisman Trophy winner as a quarterback at Auburn served as Samford’s head football coach from 2007 to 2014. He led the program to its first Southern Conference championship in 2013, and he retired as the school’s all-time winningest coach. He earned SoCon Coach of the Year honors in 2012. As a player, in addition to winning the Heisman Trophy, Sullivan was named an All-American and the SEC Player of the Year in 1970 and 1971. He helped lead Auburn to three post-season bowl appearances, and was named the MVP of the 1970 Gator Bowl and the 1971 Sugar Bowl. He then spent five seasons in the NFL before going into private business. As a coach, he was the quarterbacks coach and co-offensive coordinator for three-straight SEC championship teams at Auburn. He then became the head coach at TCU from 1992-97, earning Southwest Conference Coach of the Year honors in 1994. He served on the UAB coaching staff from 1999-05, helping lead the program to its first-ever bowl appearance.
Gallery: (8-7-2021) 2020 Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony