JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Carson-Newman sent six new members into its athletics hall of fame Saturday evening in a ceremony in the Stokely Memorial Building on Carson-Newman's campus.
The class includes five people associated with the Carson-Newman football program, and one from the Carson-Newman softball program.
Carson-Newman football head coach and offensive coordinator Mike Turner (1973), long-time defensive coordinator Jim Deaton (1974), and long-time linebackers coaches Bill Mitchell and Mike Whitley will enter the hall together. Joining them will be former Carson-Newman tight end Leonard Weaver (2005) and softball pitcher Marci Mitchell Whiteside (2003). Women's soccer striker Rebecca Angus (2007) was also tabbed for induction this year, but was unable to attend the ceremony. She will join the hall formally when she can attend an induction.
Turner is the architect of one of the most potent offenses in college football and Carson-Newman's 18th head football coach. A 1973 graduate of C-N, Turner was a standout center for the Eagles and key member of the 1972 NAIA Champion Bowl runner-up team, the first Carson-Newman squad to reach a national title game. He has spent 36 years as a member of Carson-Newman football's coaching staff.
Turner was an assistant coach on four of Carson-Newman's national-championship winning teams in the 1980s. He also coached on four teams that made it to the national title game.
"To be able to be here and be here, and witness to kids today," Turner said. "To see guys in this room who are former players, to have those relationships. That's pretty special. Football is footballl, athletics is athletics. When you have an opportunity to witness and grow in your faith at a place like Carson-Newman, that's pretty special."
Over the last decade plus, Turner's teams have chewed up yards and points. Since 2007, the Carson-Newman offense has averaged 330.6 yards rushing per game and scored an average of 38.4 points. Over the last nine seasons, Carson-Newman has produced an All-American offensive lineman eight times. The Eagles have also been lauded twice with the Rimington Award winner, which goes to the best center in all Division II.
The architect of a quarter century of fearsome defenses at Carson-Newman, Deaton helped coach Carson-Newman to its quintet of national titles in the 1980s.
His defenses have produced 58 All-Conference selections and 14 All-Americans. Many of whom - David Pool, Joe Fishback, Clayton Holmes, Marq Cerqua, Todd Collins, Cedric Killings and Steve Josue - went on to play in the NFL.
"I'm humbled," Deaton said. "I guess if you live long enough, they get around to you. I'm here because of other people - the other folks I coached with, the players I coached. The opportunity to be with Coach Ken Sparks and work with a Christ-centered program that was about more than football, I'm thrilled to be here."
A member of the 1972 Carson-Newman team which played in the first national football championship game in school history, Deaton was also a part 19 South Atlantic Conference championships, including 16 in his last 18 years with the program.
Whitley spent three decades coaching outside linebackers and special teams at Carson-Newman. The evidence of Whitley's influence on the Eagle linebackers is very evident. Twenty-one outside linebackers Whitley coached were awarded All-Conference honors. Four of those players -- Jerome Taylor, Mark Isom, Darryl Gooden and Steve Josue -- went on to earn All-American accolades for their play.
"This tells me God has blessed me more than I deserve," Whitley said. "It's a honor that is totally unexpected. When I got the call, I was in total shock that this was going to happen. The best part about it is that I get to go in with Jim, Bill and Mike. I'm grateful that they let me tag along."
His special teams players have turned in outstanding performances as well. A total of 39 pupils of Whitley's have earned all-league acclaim, including Damon Wright, a three-time All-SAC return specialist, who signed with the Washington Redskins in 1994. He also tutored Quez Rumph, the only four-time All-American in the history of the Carson-Newman football program.
Whitley was a part of all five of Carson-Newman's national titles in the 1980s and coached on all four C-N football teams that finished as national runners-up.
Mitchell spent 21 years as Carson-Newman's inside linebackers coach and later, the Eagles' associate head coach.
Mitchell was an integral part of the assembly of Carson-Newman's stout defenses through the years. Over his two decades on Mossy Creek, Mitchell tutored 30 All-SAC inside linebackers, including eight that earned All-America honors. In fact, Mitchell's units produced an All-American in six of his final 11 years with the program. Included in that are current Carson-Newman Hall of Famer Mike Clowney and NFL alums Brent and Todd Collins.
"I'm overwhelmed," Mitchell said. "I had to get older than Jim to get here. I'm so honored and humbled, and thankful to God to be a part of this body."
During Mitchell's tenure, Carson-Newman won five national titles, played for four more and won 15 South Atlantic Conference championships.
Weaver led Carson-Newman to the second round of the NCAA playoffs on three occasions and helped guide the Eagles to a trio of South Atlantic Conference regular season titles before pursuing a five-year NFL career that led to a pair of all-pro selections.
He began his college football career at Carson-Newman as a linebacker, making nine tackles in two starts as a redshirt freshman in 2001.
The next year he moved to tight end. In 2003, Weaver hauled in 16 receptions for 410 yards and six TDs. In the Division II Playoffs that year, he hauled in a 67-yard touchdown reception.
"I don't think there are really words that can accurately describe what this means," Weaver said. "This is a great honor, it's a privelege and it's something I'll cherish for the rest of my life."
In his final year, still a tight end, Weaver earned Division II All-American honors from the AP, American Football Coaches Association and others.
He led the 9-3 Carson-Newman Eagles to a conference championship and the second round of the Division II playoffs with 27 catches for 571 yards and eight score, leading all Eagles receivers.
Weaver was signed by the Seattle Seahawks as an undrafted free agent in 2005 and converted to the fullback position. After starting fullback Mack Strong suffered a herniated disk in his neck, prompting him to retire, Weaver was named the Seahawks starting fullback.
His first start was against the New Orleans Saints, where Weaver had three carries for 40 yards and three receptions for 53 yards. He recorded his first touchdown against the St. Louis Rams on November 25, 2007 on a 5-yard run.
Weaver, who was an unrestricted free agent after the 2008 season, signed a one-year, $1.75 million contract with the Philadelphia Eagles on March 20, 2009. He scored his first touchdown as a Philadelphia Eagle on November 1, 2009 against the New York Giants on a 41-yard run. Weaver finished the season as the best fullback in the NFL. His rushing total was his career high, with 70 carries for 323 yards and one touchdown.
However, he was most valued for his blocking ability. Weaver was selected to the 2010 Pro Bowl as a starting fullback. He was also voted to First Team All-Pro for the 2009 season.
As a restricted free agent heading into the offseason, Weaver signed a three-year contract worth $11 million with $6.5 million guaranteed. This deal made him the highest paid fullback in NFL history.
He was nicknamed "The Bishop" at Carson-Newman for his proclivity to spend free time traveling with a ministry in the off-season singing Christian themed R&B music. He is also a member of the South Atlantic Conference's Hall of Fame.
Marci Mitchell Whiteside
Whiteside starred as a pitcher for Vickee Kazee-Hollifield from 2000-03. In an award-packed career, she was named the league's freshman of the year in 2000 and the conference's player of the year in both her junior and senior campaigns.
The Lithonia, Ga.-native was a four-time All-South Atlantic Conference first team honoree and was tabbed the conference's Female Athlete of the Year in 2003. She is currently one of only two student-athletes in the league's history to win the President's Award as the top scholar athlete in the conference, and the Athlete of the Year honor in the same season, doing so in 2003. She was also a two-time winner of the President's Award.
"I'm humbled that someone thinks that highly of me," Mitchell Whiteside said. "At the same time, I feel guilty, because it's not just about me, it's about my teammates that helped me get here."
Whiteside ended her career with Carson-Newman as one of the greatest pitchers in the program's history. She is second all-time in the league and first in Carson-Newman history with 41 career shutouts.
She hurled 18 no-hitters in her career, which ranks second all-time in NCAA Division II history. Her sophomore campaign saw her throw 14 shutouts, four no-hitters and two perfect games.
The 14 shutouts from her sophomore season are good for third on the SAC single-season list The two perfect games she tossed that year came within a week of one another. She is one of 13 Division II athletes all-time with multiple perfect games.
Whiteside finished her career with 105 complete games, 714 strike outs and an earned run average of 1.53. She earned All-Region honors twice in her career and was named an Academic All-American three times at Carson-Newman.
She graduated with a 4.0 GPA and a degree in mathematics from Carson-Newman.