This past week, Tech announced its athletic Hall of Fame inductees for the class of 2020. The list was composed of athletes and coaches who set themselves apart for their athletic accomplishments during their time at Tech.
The selection procedure for an induction into the Georgia Tech Hall of Fame is methodical and well-thought out: there are different levels of nominations, layers to the voting process, and a set of guidelines for the announcement of the class. These measures are meant to ensure that those people who deserve the highest recognition, should get it.
Headlining this year’s class was football player Morgan Burnett (2007-2009). A defensive back from College Park, GA, Burnett helped lead Tech to 27 victories over his three years in the program, as well as consecutive ACC Coastal Division championships in 2008 and 2009.
In 2008 he led the nation with seven interceptions, tied for the fourth-most in school history.
Burnett led the team in interceptions in all three seasons with the team, and he also was the team’s leading tackler in 2008.
His career total of 14 interceptions is tied for second all-time at Tech. Burnett received second-team All-ACC honors in both 2008 and 2009.
Following his illustrious career at Tech, Burnett was drafted in the 3rd round of 2010 NFL Draft by the Green Bay Packers, and went on to have a highly successful NFL career. Over ten years in the league, Burnett had 770 tackles and 10 interceptions, as well as 10 fumble recoveries and 9.5 sacks.
Burnett played eight seasons with the Packers, winning a Super Bowl ring in 2011, played one year with the Steelers, and finished his career with the Cleveland Browns.
The next pick was Chesson Hadley (2007-2010), a golf player from Raleigh, NC whose prowess on the course is purported by numerous selections to the all-America teams.
Hadley held a multitude of records during his time at Tech, winning the ACC individual championship as a senior in 2010 and earning honorable mention All-America in both 2007 and 2010.
He debuted internationally in the 2008 Palmer Cup, playing for Team USA. Hadley turned pro upon graduation from Tech and has been playing on the PGA Tour since 2014.
Atlanta native Amanda McDowell (2007-2010) was only a freshman when Tech won the 2007 NCAA Championship in women’s tennis, but she would go on to make her mark at Tech during her time in the program, and has now become the third member from that title-winning team to be inducted into Tech’s Hall of Fame. McDowell won the 2008 ITA All-American doubles title with teammate Irina Falconi.
McDowell was twice named to the All-ACC team in 2008 and 2009, and won the NCAA singles championship her sophomore year, becoming the first woman to win an individual national title in tennis in Tech’s history. That same year she was named ITA’s National Player of the Year.
Her 45 victories that year are a single season school record for women’s singles.
Going on to win an abundance of awards for both her academic and athletic prowess, McDowell continued her career professionally, making in the U.S. Open as a qualifier, before retiring in 2012 to become an attorney.
Deck McGuire (2008-2010) was one of the best pitchers in the ACC during his three years at Tech. A native of Richmond, VA, McGuire was a two-time first-team All-ACC selection and was named the ACC Pitcher of the Year in 2009.
Among his other honors, McGuire was a first-team Freshman All-American team selection in 2008, a Golden Spikes Award semifinalist in 2009, and a National Pitcher of the Year finalist in 2009.
Professionally, McGuire played for the Toronto Blue Jays (drafted 11th overall by Toronto) and Los Angeles Angels.
Tech’s current head softball coach Aileen Morales (2005-2008) broke numerous school records during her time as a student-athlete at Tech.
She was the ACC co-Freshman of the Year in 2005 and was named to the all-ACC second team, the first of three all-ACC selections (she received first-team honors in 2007 and 2008).
The Columbus, GA native helped lead the Jackets to the 2005 ACC regular-season and tournament championships and four NCAA postseason appearances.
Morales was selected by the Chicago Bandits in the second round of the 2008 National Pro Fastpitch Draft.
After playing and coaching internationally in Puerto Rico, Morales became Tech’s head softball coach in 2017.
Gal Nevo (2008-2010) is the most accomplished swimmer to ever compete for the Institute. A two-time ACC Swimmer of the Year during his time at Tech, Nevo represented his home country of Israel three times in the Olympic Games (2008, 2012, 2016). Nevo broke the school records for the 400 and 200 individual medley and still holds the record for the former.
Along with the records he holds at Tech, Nevo holds three national records in Israel. After graduating from Tech with a degree in economics, Nevo founded a swimming technology company called SenSwim.
George O’Leary (1987-1991, 1993-2000) revitalized the Tech football program during his time as a head coach and defensive coordinator at Tech.
He led the Jackets to five consecutive bowl games, a streak only matched by Bobby Dodd when he coached Tech to six straight bowl games.
After helping Tech to a (highly controversial) national title as the defensive coordinator in 1990, Leary became the head coach in 1994 and was named ACC Coach of the Year on two occasions. O’Leary’s long and illustrious career came to a conclusion with his retirement in 2015.
Though their time here is over, these athletes and coaches proved that with confidence and dedication the athletic world can be captured by one’s commitment to a sport. Though these athletes’ abilities are undeniable, it is clear that this success cannot be produced without years and years of practice.