Leon Hardeman

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Kajene Murugathasan

Section A2

Leon Hardeman

Leon Hardeman was born in Ft. Payne, Alabama [1], but was originally from Lafayette, Georgia. He was 170 pounds, five feet and seven inches when he played football at Tech. Hardeman made individual records in every game he played. [2] He started playing Tech football as a freshman in 1950. [3] Hardeman was known for his good balance, accurate speed and direction, and ability to “spin on a dime.” [4] When he was a sophomore in the year 1951, he scored 48 points with eight touchdowns. His incredible accomplishments gave Georgia Tech a great record of seventeen touchdowns and 102 points.[5] In 1952, Leon Hardeman was named the SEC player by the United Press All-American. In 1952 Leon Hardeman was unanimously the All-American choice after he led Tech into an undefeated season into three major bowl wins with an unbelievable record of 32-2-2. He also had a share of the national championship because of the unbeaten team of Michigan State. Leon Hardeman was known for having brains and also ultimate power on the playing field. [6] Even though he missed most of the games due to his injuries he still managed to score 54 points with 9 touchdowns during the 1952 season. In the year 1952, the Georgia Tech football team had a total of seventeen individual records and fifteen team records. [7]


Contents

Classic Battles of the Century

Throughout Hardeman's career there were two important games. The first game was between LSU All-American defense back Kenny Konz and Georgia Tech All-American running back Leon Hardeman. This game occurred in 1951 in the Bobby Dodd Stadium and this was the first and last time the audience saw Hardeman make a classic run, before his injury occurred. He knocked down two lineman and ran over two linebackers as he charged towards Konz to make the tackle. [8] Another one of Leon Hardeman’s important games was on December 1st, 1951, when Georgia Tech played against the University of Georgia in Grant Field Stadium. During this game it was literally a one man show and Leon Hardeman had to go up against the entire Georgia Bulldog Team by himself. SEC Tech quarterback Darrell Crawford says what happened: “ 'I remember putting the ball in Leon’s belly and he literally exploded out of the backfield, ran by one linebacker and over the other linebacker...Leon gave one a fake to the left and the other a fake to the right...He escaped the trap and headed for All-American defensive back Claude Hipps and the goal line. Leon literally went under Hipps without touching the ground then turned on the burner for the last 10 yards and the goal line. It was the most fantastic run I ever saw.’ ” The result of the game was a glorious victory by Georgia Tech with a winning score of forty-eight against a mere six by the University of Georgia. [9]

1953 Sugar Bowl

Even though Hardeman had a broken ankle during the 1953 Sugar Bowl, he did not let that affect his incredible football career. Thus Tech won the sugar bowl with a score of twenty-four to seven over Ole Miss. For the 1953 Sugar Bowl there was $365,000 in ticket sales and $100,000 for television and radio rights. Before his injury Hardeman had 704 yards in 126 carries, and he received the best player award. [10] Miller Memorial Trophy is an annual award to the outstanding player in the Sugar Bowl post-season football classic and the trophy was inaugurated with the Texas-Alabama Classic on January 1, 1948. The trophy honors the memory of the first Sugar Bowl president, the late Warren Vernon Miller. Presentation of the Miller trophy is made at the annual banquet given in honor of the two participating teams on New Year ’s Eve night. Under the conditions of the award, the trophy is the personal permanent property of the outstanding player. In 1953 this trophy was awarded to Leon Hardeman, Georgia Tech half-back, who sparked the Tech offense and was the game’s top ground gainer for points and was known for his amazing talents. On October 9th, 1953, the Sugar Bowl Appreciation Program occurred in the beautiful city of New Orleans “honoring the chapter members of the New Orleans mid-winter sports association on the beginning of their twentieth season, for their memorable contributions to their community and the world of intercollegiate athletics.” The idea of the New Year’s Day football classic in New Orleans was first presented in 1927 by Colonel Thomsen.The Sugar Bowl Classic represents three things: origin, history, and purpose. [11] The Sugar Bowl of 1953 was a memorable victory for Georgia Tech, and it was the time of when Bobby Dodd coached the team.

Interesting Facts

Leon Hardeman was named the most valued player of the 1953 Sugar Bowl. Throughout his entire yellow jacket football career he scored twenty-two touchdowns and 1,794 yards. He played on championship teams that won one orange and two sugar bowls. He was a member of the 1952 Georgia Tech National Championship team. He was inducted to be member of the Hall of Fame in the year 1988. Leon Hardeman also played Baseball for tech in the year 1952. Tech's baseball team has not won a conference championship since 1933. However, individually each student made some fine records. Hardeman played as an outfielder and was named one of the nine outstanding players in the year 1952. Coach Pittard was the coach during Hardeman’s season on the baseball team. [12] These are some kind words from Bobby Dodd about Hardeman: '“Leon was a terrific runner. He had strong thighs, strong legs, good judgment, was terrific in the big games. He didn't run around people. He ran through them. He and Frankie Sinckwich (Georgia's 1942 Heisman winner) ran through more tacklers than anyone I ever saw."' [13]

Wise Words about Hardeman at Tech

‘ “The performances of Hardeman were indescribable. You wear out the same adjectives and adverbs trying to give life to the hoofing of the ball carrier. You have to see it to believe it. Against Southern Methodist in 1951, on one run, Hardeman started from the SMU nine yard line, knocked down two Mustangs at the seven, broke through two men at the five and carried two across the goal line with him.”’ – Furman Bisher

‘“Leon was the best running back that has ever been on Grant Field.”’ – Bobby Dodd [14]


Life After Tech

After Hardeman graduated from Tech, he served two years in the United States army. He then started to work at Owens-Illinois corporation where he started off as working as a salesman and then gradually climbed the ladder to work in the position of a manager. Hardeman is currently seventy-seven years old and retired about twenty-two years ago at the age of fifty-five. His time now consists of spending time with his children and playing golf. Hardeman has a total of three residences. One is in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, the other one is in Big Canoe, and the main residence is in Kennesaw. [15]

References

  1. (15 September 2010) In "GSFH." Retrieved September 15, 2010 from http://gshf.org/pdf_files/inductees/football/leon_hardeman.pdf
  2. (10 September 2010) In "Technique Newsletter Volume 37 Issue 44." Retrieved September 10, 2010 from Technique Newsletter
  3. (9 September 2010)In " Technique Newsletter Volume 37 Issue 31." Retrieved September 9, 2010 from Technique Newsletter http://smartech.gatech.edu/bitstream/1853/33697/1/1953-01-06_37_31.pdf
  4. (15 September 2010) In "Georgia Trend." Retrieved September 15, 2010 from http://www.georgiatrend.com/features-sports-leisure/04_08_legends.shtml
  5. (10 September 2010) In "Technique Newsletter Volume 37 Issue 44." Retrieved September 10, 2010 from Technique Newsletter
  6. (9 September 2010)In " Technique Newsletter Volume 37 Issue 31." Retrieved September 9, 2010 from Technique Newsletter http://smartech.gatech.edu/bitstream/1853/33697/1/1953-01-06_37_31.pdf
  7. (10 September 2010) In "Technique Newsletter Volume 37 Issue 44." Retrieved September 10, 2010 from Technique Newsletter
  8. (15 September 2010) In "Georgia Trend." Retrieved September 15, 2010 from http://www.georgiatrend.com/features-sports-leisure/04_08_legends.shtml
  9. (15 September 2010) In "Georgia Trend." Retrieved September 15, 2010 from http://www.georgiatrend.com/features-sports-leisure/04_08_legends.shtml
  10. (9 September 2010)In " Technique Newsletter Volume 37 Issue 31." Retrieved September 9, 2010 from Technique Newsletter http://smartech.gatech.edu/bitstream/1853/33697/1/1953-01-06_37_31.pdf
  11. (1 October 2010) In "Archives - Box 3 Series 19." Retrieved October 1, 2010 from Box 3 Series 19
  12. (10 September 2010) In "Technique Newsletter Volume 37 Issue 32." Retrieved September 10, 2010 from Technique Newsletter
  13. (15 September 2010) In "GSFH." Retrieved September 15, 2010 from http://gshf.org/pdf_files/inductees/football/leon_hardeman.pdf
  14. (15 September 2010) In "Georgia Trend." Retrieved September 15, 2010 from http://www.georgiatrend.com/features-sports-leisure/04_08_legends.shtml
  15. (15 September 2010) In "Georgia Trend." Retrieved September 15, 2010 from http://www.georgiatrend.com/features-sports-leisure/04_08_legends.shtml
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