Aug. 16, 2008
Cullowhee, N.C. - Western Carolina University today announced its Hall of Fame class, which will honor four of its All-America selections, and a veteran of the National Football League. The five-person induction class will be placed into the Hall of Fame during festivities held on the first weekend of November.
Three former football players, a highly honored baseball player and a record setting track & field standout are included in the star-studded induction class. The 19th-annual induction ceremony will be held prior to the Western Carolina--Chattanooga football game on Nov. 1, with a
The 2008 class includes former football players John Ruta (1962-65), Alonzo Carmichael (1983-86) and Brad Hoover (1996-99) along with track and field star Tony McKennie (1986-90) and baseball standout Jason Beverlin (1992-94).
The trio of former Catamount football players were all-stars in three different eras.
Ruta, a defensive back on Western's All-20th Century Football Team, began his playing career as a quarterback in 1962 and led the Catamounts to a stunning upset of East Carolina. He was also the starting signal caller in 1963, but moved to the defensive secondary in `64 despite passing for over 1,000 yards as a freshman and sophomore.
The Plant City, Fla., product responded with a banner season as he led the '64 Catamounts in tackles and set single-season records for interceptions and pass breakups, returning two picks for touchdowns. His amazing transition season was noticed throughout the nation as he was named NAIA All-America, the first defensive back in WCU history to be so honored. As captain of the '65 team, Ruta started in both the defensive backfield and at defensive end. He led the team in three statistical categories.
In addition to All-America honors, Ruta was a two-time All-Carolinas Conference selection and an NAIA District 26 All-Star. He graduated in 1966 and is currently a partner with KRG&C Certified Public Accountants in Orlando, FL.
Carmichael is one of only five WCU football players to be named All-America in multiple seasons, and was selected as the tight end on Western's All-20th Century Football Team. A native of Lake View, S.C., he was a first team Associated Press (AP)) All-America selection in 1985 when he caught 55 passes for 587 yards, a school record for tights ends. During that '85 season, he caught 11 passes in the Furman game and had 130 yards in receptions at Georgia Tech.
Carmichael followed up in 1986 with 31 receptions for nearly 400 yards and was named to the AP's second team All-America squad. He captained the 1985 and '86 Catamounts and was a two-time first team All-Southern Conference selection.
Carmichael currently is an information specialist for Telamon Corporation in Martinsburg, West Virginia.
Hoover arrived in Cullowhee in 1996 from Ledford High as an overlooked running back. He left four seasons later as one of the most heralded players in Catamount football history and is currently in his ninth season with the NFL's Carolina Panthers, where he has become a fan favorite.
As a Catamount, Hoover rushed for 3,616 career yards - second-most in school history - which included a WCU single-season record 1,663 yards in 1998. His 251 rushing yards and then Southern Conference record-tying five touchdowns against VMI in '98 are also school records. That same season, the Thomasville, N.C., native keyed an upset of arch-rival Appalachian State with 195 rushing yards on a school-record 49 carries.
"Hoov," as he was affectionately known, was a two-time All-SoCon selection, led his teams in rushing for three seasons and is listed in WCU's all-time top 10 in game, season and career rushing yards as well as game, season and career scoring.
McKennie became the first WCU's track and field athlete to be named NCAA All-America when he finished fourth in the 400-meter hurdle event at the 1989 NCAA Division I Track and Field Championships in Provo, Utah. The Riverdale, Georgia product was named All-SoCon a combined 21 times during his collegiate career from 1986-89, and placed in four indoor events (55-meter hurdles, 400-meter hurdles, 800-meter run and 4x100-meter relay) and four outdoor events (110-meter hurdles, 400-meter hurdles, 4x100-meter relay and 4x400-meter relay).
McKennie was the SoCon champion for four-consecutive years in the outdoor 400-meter hurdles while also winning three other events. He was ranked 38th in the world in the 400-meter hurdles in 1989-90, and participated in two United States Olympic Festivals.
Beverlin is the most honored pitcher in Western Carolina baseball history. He was a consensus All-America selection, SoCon Pitcher and Male Athlete of the Year, a two-time All-Atlantic Region All-Star and helped lead WCU to three-consecutive NCAA Regional meets from 1992 through 1994. In addition, he was named to the SoCon's 75th Anniversary Baseball Team, meaning he was voted one of the six best pitchers in the conference, 1921 to 1996.
Only pitching for the Catamounts for three seasons, Beverlin won 27 games and was the all-time, single-season leader in wins (12) and led the nation with a school and conference season strikeout record of 154. He also set league benchmark for consecutive wins in a season (11 in 1994) and most wins in a conference tournament in 1993. In addition, Beverlin was a two-time member of the SoCon All-Academic Team.
Drafted in the fourth round of the 1994 Major League Baseball Draft by the Oakland Athletics, Beverlin pitched in Major Leagues for both the Cleveland Indians and Detroit Tigers.
The product of Royal Oak, Michigan is now the pitching coach for Georgia Southern University where he is on staff with former Catamounts Rodney Hennon (1990-93) and Mike Tidick (1990-94).