MARTIN, Tenn. – Five members have been selected to join the exclusive UT Martin Athletics Hall of Fame in 2017, as former baseball player Bryant Jones (2001-04), pioneer Cal Luther (1990-99), former softball player Megan Williams Martin (2007-10), former rifle shooter Heather Tillson (2005-09) and former football player David Williams (1974-77) will be inducted during the 34th annual Letter Winner’s Breakfast this Saturday, Oct. 7 in conjunction with Homecoming festivities. This year’s Hall of Fame ceremony will take place at the Student Life Center at 7:30 a.m.
Jones is UT Martin’s only Division-I All-American in baseball, earning that title in 2004. The Waddy, Ky. native left as the Skyhawks’ all-time leader in hits (218), batting .335 in 191 games played over his four-year career. The infielder earned All-Ohio Valley Conference first team accolades as a senior in 2004, leading the team in batting average (.425), hits (96, the highest single-season total in UT Martin history), runs scored (55), slugging percentage (.588) and stolen bases (18).
“For me personally, being inducted into the UT Martin Athletics Hall of Fame is an incredible honor,” Jones said. “I never took it for granted each time I put on that Skyhawk uniform. A lot of lifetime bonds and memories were created during my years at UT Martin. To get this kind of recognition is what I’d like to call some really good icing on a really good cake.”
Born in Valdosta, Ga. and raised in Milwaukee, Wis., Luther is perhaps the most influential coach in UT Martin men’s basketball history, as he guided the program through the NCAA Division-I reclassification process. He became UT Martin’s first-ever OVC Coach of the Year for men’s basketball in 1995-96, leading the program to its first winning season in conference play. That came after Luther was forced to schedule the toughest of opponents to keep up with Division-I budget demands.
“I really enjoyed my stay at UT Martin,” Luther said. “I came into a situation that was unstable at the moment and the kids responded well. We became competitive sooner than I thought, which was very satisfying. I have really grown to love living here in Martin.”
A Murfreesboro, Tenn. native, Martin became the program’s first-ever OVC Player of the Year in 2010. A three-time All-OVC honoree, she helped lead UT Martin to its first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance in 2009 and first-ever OVC championship in 2010. The slugging outfielder graduated as the program’s all-time leader in hits (236), triples (11) and total bases (371) while her 72 hits and 124 total bases in 2010 were also Skyhawk single-season records.
“To be inducted into the same Hall of Fame as Pat Head Summitt is truly an honor,” Martin said. “The game of softball was something I became very passionate about at a young age and worked at daily to perfect. Little did I know, it would repay me ten-fold by providing an education, friends and memories that will last a lifetime – as well as leading me to the beautiful family and life I am living now.”
Tillson was an All-OVC performer in all four seasons at UT Martin, joining fellow Hall of Famer Jaymi Collar as the only Skyhawk rifle members to earn that status. She compiled OVC Most Valuable Player honors in air rifle in 2008 and competed in the 2006 NCAA Championships as one of only three individuals selected nationwide. The Galway, NY native established a school record in smallbore (578) and air rifle (592) in back-to-back days in September 2007.
“I absolutely loved my time at UT Martin and the rifle team was a huge part of why I cherish those memories,” Tillson said. “I am thankful every day for my time on the team and what we learned and accomplished together. Being inducted into the Hall of Fame is a great reminder of four years that changed my life most definitely for the better.”
Williams will be inducted posthumously, as the star defensive back passed away in 1988. The Valdosta, Ga. native was a three-time All-Gulf South Conference first team performer, helping UT Martin post a 16-6 record with an 11-5 GSC mark over his final two seasons. An eighth round pick of the 1978 NFL Draft by the Atlanta Falcons, he tallied a team-high 57 tackles in 1976 and a team-best three interceptions in 1975.
“For David to be inducted into the UT Martin Athletics Hall of Fame is a great honor because David was the first of seven children to attend and graduate college,” said Matthew and Jeffery Williams, brothers of David. “David was always so thankful to his coaches and teammates for their support during his collegiate years. We are appreciative beyond words for this honor – we only wish David could have been alive to receive this prestigious award.”