Ronde Barber. Courtesy of Jeffrey Beall.
Ronde Barber. Courtesy of Jeffrey Beall.

Will Driscoll, executive director of the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame, reports that Ronde Barber, named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in the past week, will be the 13th member of the Virginia Sports Hall to be enshrined in Canton, Ohio.  

Barber, a standout defensive back at Cave Spring High School in Roanoke County and at the University of Virginia, played 16 seasons for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers before he retired following the 2012 season.

He will be third former UVa player to be enshrined, following running back Bill Dudley from Bluefield in 1966 and offensive lineman Henry Jordan from Newport News in 1995.

Virginia Tech was represented by defensive lineman Bruce Smith from Norfolk in 2009 after another Tidewater product, defensive lineman Lawrence Taylor from Williamsburg and the University of North Carolina, had gone in 1999.

Others included Hampton’s Dwight Stephenson, a Hampton graduate who played center at Alabama before joining the Miami Dolphins, where he was a five-time AFC offensive lineman of the year.

James Madison has been represented in the Pro Football Hall of Fame by Charles Haley, who played for the San Francisco 49ers from 1986-91, after which he played for the Dallas Cowboys from 1992-96, only to return to San Francisco in 1999.

Haley is a graduate of William Campbell High School in Gladys, located between Rustburg and Naruna in Campbell County.

Not to be overlooked is Willie Lanier, born in Clover in Halifax County. Lanier, who went to Maggie Walker High School in Richmond, was a linebacker for the Kansas City Chiefs from 1967-77 and was a major figure in the Chiefs’ 23-7 upset of Minnesota in Super Bowl IV in 1969.


A name that has been overlooked over the years is George Preas, an offensive lineman on the 1958 Baltimore Colts’ NFL championship team, which defeated the New York Giants in overtime in what was called “the greatest game ever played.”

Preas, who was born in Roanoke and attended Jefferson High School, played at Virginia Tech and was selected in the fifth round of the 1955 draft. Tech had lost 41 consecutive games at the time Preas enrolled but went 8-0-1 in 1954.

Although Preas is a member of the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame and was in the first class of the Virginia Tech Sports Hall of Fame, the NFL wasn’t able to recognize him prior to his death in Roanoke in 2007.  

Chiefs connection

The latest Southside representative to leave his mark is Juan Thornhill, a defensive back from Altavista High School who had an interception Sunday in the Super Bowl, contributing to the Chiefs’ 38-35 victory over Philadelphia.

He was a second-round pick of the Chiefs in 2019, when he was the 63rd pick overall out of the University of Virginia. 

Around the ACC

ACC men’s basketball coaches haven’t exactly gotten along this year, witnessed by comments made by 44th-year Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim, whose Orange held off N.C. State Tuesday night in Syracuse, 75-72, to raise Syracuse’s record to 16-10.

One week earlier, Boeheim had taken a shot at Pittsburgh’s coach, claiming in an interview with ESPN’s Pete Thamel that his rival’s staff had purchased players.

“This is an awful place we’re in in college basketball,” Boeheim was quoted. “Pittsburgh bought a team, OK? Fine. My [major donor] talks about it, but he doesn’t give anyone any money. Nothing. Not one guy.

“Our guys make like $20,000. Wake Forest bought a team. Miami bought a team. It’s like, ‘Really, is that where we are? That’s where we are and it’s only going to get worse.”

Syracuse is scheduled to play at Pittsburgh on Feb. 25. In the meantime, Wake Forest coach Steve Forbes has rejected Boeheim’s comment as it applied to the Deacons.

Local angle

Josh Clifford, a walk-on who played football for his father at Glenvar High School before spending five years at Virginia, has accepted a position as an intern at Wake Forest, where the staff includes another ex-Cavalier, Wayne Lineburg, who is the Deacons’ special-teams coordinator.

Doug Doughty has been writing for more than 50 years starting as a high school student in Washington,...