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Florida A&M announces 2005 Sports Hall of Fame Class

April 19, 2005

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - All-America linebacker Earl "Hitman" Holmes heads the 30th class slated for enshrinement into the Florida A&M University Sports Hall of Fame on Friday, September 2, in ceremonies at the Tallahassee-Leon County Civic Center.

•The induction ceremonies will begin at 7:00 p.m. on Friday at the Civic Center, with a reception for the inductees to be held immediately afterwards.

•On Saturday, the 2005 Wall of Fame Ceremonies will be conducted in the Jake Gaither Athletic Center gymnasium, as bronze plaques for previous and current honorees will be unveiled.

•Saturday night during the FAMU-Delaware State football game at Bragg Memorial Stadium (7:00 p.m.), the eight inductees will be recognized at halftime.

Joining Holmes in the 2005 Class of eight sports personalities will be: Alexander "Al" Davis, Baseball; Walter Kennedy, Basketball; Anthony "Tony" Messina,Coach; Frank Merchant,Football; Donyale Ferguson,Women's Basketball and Alvin Hollins, Jr., Supporter.

Here are bio briefs on this year's SHOF class:

ALEXANDER "AL" DAVIS (Baseball, 1967-70) - A two-time captain of the Rattler Baseball team in 1969 and 1970, Al Davis was an ace pitcher for FAMU under the late Costa "Pop" Kittles.

Davis, posted a sterling 9-1 record as a junior in 1969, earning All-Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference honors. Davis was also named the team's Most Valuable Pitcher in 1969. He also helped lead the Rattlers into the NAIA District playoffs in 1969 and 1970.
Davis posted a 4-1 regular season mark as a senior in 1970, as part of a stellar three-man rotation for Coach Kittles.

Active in the Tallahassee community in youth recreation and counseling, Davis is also an outstanding baseball official, who worked as a professional umpire in the Florida State and Texas Leagues from 1981-85.

Davis has also umpired college baseball in the area and region, plus NCAA postseason events, including the College World Series in Omaha.

In 1992, he became the first African American to umpire in the College World Series and has been to the CWS four times - 1992, 1997, 2000 and 2003.

DONYALE FERGUSON (Women's Basketball • 1989-91) - A super talented guard, who became one of the school's best women's basketball players ever, Donyale Ferguson compiled impressive numbers in three years.

A teammate of FAMU Sports Hall of Famers Polly Innerarity and Shelly Boston, Ferguson is listed on seven Florida A&M career Top 10 categories, including free throws made 1st, 403); free throw attempts (1st, 762); field goal attempts (5th, 1,287); steals (5th, 252); scoring (6th with 1,369 points); assists (7th, with 371); field goals made (8th, 513).

Ferguson was first-team All-New South Women's Athletic Conference (1990) and was a two-time All-NSWAC Tournament selection (1990, 1991).

Despite missing her freshman year due to Proposition 48, the Miami native graduated in four years from Florida A&M.

ALVIN HOLLINS (Supporter, 1979-Present) - Hollins has served as the Sports Information Director at Florida A&M since 1979, coordinating the publicity for the school's 18-sport athletic program.

He was responsible for the production of publications, game reports and performance records for the program's various sports as well as promoting of student-athletes for all-star honors.
A winner of several awards for his work during his tenure, Hollins was named "Black College SID of the Year" in 1990 and 1998 and the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference "SID of the Year" in 1996. In 2002, he received the Elmore "Scoop" Hudgens Sports Information Award from the American Football Foundation.

EARL HOLMES (Football, 1992-95) - One of the most feared defenders in school history, this Tallahassee native finished his career as the all-time tackles leader.
A two-time All-America (1994, 1995), Holmes had 509 total tackles in his career and 171 total stops as a senior (1995).

He earned Sheridan Broadcasting Network Black College Defensive Player of the Year honors and MEAC Defensive Player of the Year honors in 1995. He was a three-time All-Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference pick (1993, 1994 and 1995).

Florida A&M won the 1995 MEAC title and earned a berth in the Alamo Heritage Bowl. He had a school record 30 tackles against Southern in 1995.

Drafted by Pittburgh in 1996, Holmes played six seasons (1996-2001) with the Steelers, leading them in tackles each season. He played one season (2002) with the Cleveland Browns and has played the last two years (2003, 2004) with the Detroit Lions.

•WALTER BRADY KENNEDY (Basketball, 1958-63) - A strapping 6-9, 225-pound center during his playing days at FAMU, Kennedy was an all-star player for the Rattlers.
He twice earned All-Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference honors (1959, 1963) and was a first-team NCAA Northeast Region selection in 1963.

Kennedy averaged 15 points, 17 rebounds and four blocked shots per game in 1963, as the Rattlers powered their way to a 26-1 record, highlighted by a 26-game win streak to open the season.

He served as team captain during that magical 1963 campaign and was later drafted by the Pittsburgh Rens of the American Basketball League (ABL). He did play professionally with the Harlem Globetrotters.

FRANK MERCHANT (Football, 1956-59) - Called one of the greatest linemen ever to play at Florida A&M, Merchant was known for his extraordinary strength and tenacity.

In time, he became one of the most feared tackles in Black College Football. His individual performance was key to the Rattlers' success during the fabled Golden Era of FAMU Football.
A perennial All-Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference selection, Merchant was one of the cornerstones of FAMU teams that captured four SIAC titles and national championships in 1957 and 1959.

An All-America candidate his senior year, Merchant went on to the pro ranks, playing linebacker for the New York Titans (now the Jets). He is presently a professor at Fayetteville (N.C.) State University.

ANTHONY "Tony" MESSINA (Football Coach, 1981-2002)- This enthusiastic New England native has been a part of the Rattler Football scene for over 20 years. A U.S. Coast Guard veteran, Messina has worked with three FAMU head coaches - Rudy Hubbard, Ken Riley and Billy Joe - in various roles.

Primarily, Messina served as the program's kicking coach from his first years in the early 1980s, tutoring eight all-star kickers during that span, five of whom went on to earn All-America honors.

In addition, Messina also served as the team's chief film and video man for the coaching staff until health concerns curtailed his travel for a brief time. He shot footage of all practices during the week and games on weekends, for the coaching staff.

At one stage, Messina and his wife, Frances, spent several seasons in the 1980s filming, then later videoing games for the coaching staff.

Here is a listing of Messina's all-star kickers at FAMU:

All-Conference Kickers:•Vince Coleman, P, 1980-81; Rod Dawson, P, 1982, 1986; Vaughn Wilson, P, 1987, 1988; Tim Camron, PK, 1992, 1993, 1994; Darrin Ford, P, 1996, 1997; Juan Toro, PK, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998; T.J. Smith, P, 1998, 2000, 2001; Juan Vasquez, PK, 2000, 2002.

All-American Kickers: Vaughn Wilson, P, 1987, 1988; Jimmy Vertuno, PK, 1988; Darrin Ford, P, 1997; Juan Toro, PK, 1997, 1998; Juan Vasquez, PK, 2000, 2002


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