UNA's McKinnon Elected to Alabama Sports Hall of Fame

Dec. 16, 2009


BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — The Alabama Sports Hall of Fame announced its Class of 2010 inductees Wednesday afternoon, and the list includes former University of North Alabama football standout Ronald McKinnon.

In all, the Class of 2010 includes six from the modern class, two old-timers and a Distinguished American Sportsman. The official induction is scheduled for next May.

McKinnon, a native of Elba, Ala., was a four-year starter on Lion football teams from 1992-95 and is one of the most honored athletes in college football history. In 2007 he was elected to the Division II Football Hall of Fame and in the summe of 2008 he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. A four-time, first-team All-GSC selection, McKinnon is one of just a handful of three-time consensus All-Americans in NCAA Division II history. He was selected the winner of the 1995 Harlon Hill Trophy as NCAA Division II National Player of the Year, becoming the first - and so far only - defensive player to win the award. He helped lead UNA to a combined 48-5-1 record that included three straight GSC championships and three straight NCAA Division II National Championships. He closed his career as the leading tackler in school and GSC history with 621 total stops and 407 primary stops. He had 29 career tackles for loss, seven sacks, 11 interceptions and recovered five fumbles. As a senior he had 139 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, four interceptions and four sacks.

He was named to the Gulf South Conference "Team of the Quarter Century" for 1971-95, was selected the "GSC Defensive Player of the Quarter Century" for 1971-95 and was named to the NCAA Division II "Team of the Quarter Century" for 1973-97. He was selected for the 50th Anniversary UNA Football Team for 1949-98, the Gulf South Conference Team of the 1990s and was named Alabama Sports Writers Association State Professional Athlete of the Year for 1998. He signed a free agent contract with the Arizona Cardinals of the National Football League following his senior season and spent the next 10 seasons in professional football. McKinnon played in 157 NFL games, spending nine seasons with the Cardinals and one with the New Orleans Saints. He finished his professional career with more than 1,000 tackles, 12 sacks and 10 pass interceptions.

McKinnon becomes the fourth former UNA student-athlete and seventh person overall with connections to North Alabama to be elected to the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame. Former Lion football players Harlon Hill and George "Goober" Lindsey and former UNA basketball player Winfrey "Wimp" Sanderson, hold Hall of Fame membership, as do former Lion football coaches Hal Self, Mickey Andrews and Bobby Wallace.

A look at the Class of 2010:

— Reita Clanton (handball) -- The Auburn University product was a two-time AAIAW all-state pick in basketball and volleyball as a collegian and an All-American ASA shortstop in softball. She took up the sport of handball relatively late in her career, yet represented the U.S. in the 1984 Summer Olympics and was named the USOC Sportswoman of the Year in 1985. She remained in the sport as a coach, leading her teams to three gold and one bronze medals in the U.S. Olympic Festival. Clanton was born in LaFayette on July 30, 1952.

— Howard Cross (football) -- A standout tight end at Alabama under Ray Perkins and Bill Curry, Cross as a senior was named the Jacobs Award winner, given to the SEC's premier blocker. As a member of the NFL's New York Giants, he earned a Super Bowl ring in the second season of a 13-year career, retiring with a club record of 207 games played. He was born Aug. 8, 1967, in Huntsville.

— Robert Horry (basketball) -- The Andalusia native was named the state's premier player as a high school senior. At Alabama, he set the record for career blocked shots and was selected to the league's All-SEC, All-Defensive and All-Academic teams. The 11th pick in the 1992 draft, Horry was a part of seven NBA championships and is one of just two players to win titles with three different teams. Horry, who owns the NBA record with 53 career postseason 3-pointers, was born Aug. 25, 1970, in Harford County, Md.

— Bobby Johns (football) -- A three-time All-SEC defensive back and a two-time All-American, Johns was team captain of the 1967 Alabama team. He was named to Bama's Team of the Decade in 1969. As a coach, he worked for more than 30 years, including a stint as head coach at West Alabama from 1997-2000. Johns was born in Birmingham.

— Ronald McKinnon (football) -- At Division II North Alabama, he became the only defensive player to win the Harlon Hill Trophy while leading the Lions to three consecutive national titles. He was also named the Gulf South Conference's Player of the Quarter Century. A 10-year NFL veteran, McKinnon was voted into the College Football Hall of Fame last year. McKinnon was reared in Elba.

— Ben Tamburello (football) -- A two-time All-American at center for Auburn, Tamburello was named SEC Lineman of the Year as a senior by the Atlanta Touchdown Club and also earned SEC All-Academic honors as the anchor of Pat Dye's team. He was later named to Auburn's team of the century before embarking on a five-year NFL career. Tamburello was born Sept. 9, 1964, in Birmingham.

— Ed Salem (old-timers) -- The Birmingham native was an All-American in 1950, when he led Alabama in passing, rushing, scoring and interceptions while playing both ways. In the 1948 revival of the Iron Bowl, Salem threw three touchdown passes, ran for another and kicked seven extra points in a 55-0 victory. Salem played two ways for most of his NFL and CFL career and also kicked a 53-yard field goal.

— George "Mule" Suttles (old-timers) -- The Blocton native played 21 seasons in the Negro Leagues, including a stint with the Birmingham Black Barons, and finished with 237 homers, the most recorded in the league's history. Suttles once hit three home runs in a single inning and helped the St. Louis Stars to three pennants. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006.

— Rick Woodward (Distinguished American Sportsman) -- He owned the Birmingham Barons from 1909-37, a span that saw the club win five pennants and two Dixie World Series. He later served as a minor league vice president. His most memorable contribution to the state of Alabama came in 1910, when he built Rickwood Field, the oldest existing baseball stadium in the country. Woodward's stadium celebrates its centennial next summer.