2 more Columbus stars are nominated for Georgia High School Football Hall of Fame

Two former high school football stars from Columbus are among the 40 nominees added to the Georgia High School Football Hall of Fame ballot.

Isaiah Crowell of Carver and Wallace Davis of Spencer join two other former Muscogee County student-athletes with a chance for induction this year. John Henry Jackson of Spencer and Jasper Sanks of Carver remain on the ballot because they were nominated in previous years but weren’t elected.

The hall of fame’s board, comprising 38 past and present coaches, players, administrators and media members, plans to select 30 players from the 100-nominee ballot to be inducted as the 2024 class Oct. 26 in Atlanta.

Here’s a summary of the qualifications for the local players on this year’s ballot:

Isaiah Crowell

During his senior season at Carver in 2010, Crowell was rated as the No. 1 high school running back in the nation and the No. 1 college prospect among all positions in Georgia by 247Sports.

Crowell was SEC Freshman of the Year after his first season playing for the Georgia Bulldogs, but he was dismissed from the team after he was arrested in 2012 on criminal weapon charges after Athens-Clarke County police found a handgun under the driver’s seat of his vehicle at a police checkpoint.

Isaiah Crowell reflects on his life, and his NFL career, during a recent interview in his hometown of Columbus, Georgia. 11/18/2021
Isaiah Crowell reflects on his life, and his NFL career, during a recent interview in his hometown of Columbus, Georgia. 11/18/2021

The charges were dropped the following year, when the district attorney determined the state couldn’t prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Crowell possessed the weapon with an altered identification number.

By then, Crowell had transferred to Alabama State, where he played well enough to be projected as high as the fourth round in the NFL draft. But he wasn’t selected at all.

Nonetheless, he took advantage of another chance after the Cleveland Browns signed him as a free agent in 2014. In five NFL seasons, including his final one with the New York Jets, Crowell ran for 3,803 yards and 27 touchdowns on 880 carries.

His most famous NFL performance was with the Jets in 2018, when he rushed for 219 yards on 15 carries against the Denver Broncos. That not only set the Jets’ single-game rushing record; it also was the most yards per carry (14.33) in NFL history by a player with at least 15 carries.

Wallace Davis

Nowadays, most people probably know Davis as the retired Carver head football coach who led the Tigers to three region championships from 1976 to 2004 and guided numerous players to college scholarships and some eventually to the NFL.

He coached Carver to a No. 25 national ranking by USA Toady in 1987, when the Tigers upset No. 1 Valdosta in the second round (quarterfinals) of the Georgia Class AAAA state playoffs. They lost to Effingham in the semifinals.

But before his coaching career, Davis was a standout player for Carver’s arch-rival, Spencer.

Wallace Davis was the longtime head football coach at Carver High School in Columbus, Georgia.
Wallace Davis was the longtime head football coach at Carver High School in Columbus, Georgia.

In 1961 and 1962, Davis was an all-state offensive guard and linebacker in the Georgia Interscholastic Association, which was the league for Black schools during racial segregation. He earned a football scholarship to NCAA Division II Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Missouri, where he was a three-time All-Midwestern Interscholastic Athletic Association selection.

The Toronto Rifles, a minor league team in Canada, drafted Davis in May of 1966, but he signed an NFL contract with the Minnesota Vikings in July.

Davis played in one exhibition game as a kickoff and punt returner before being cut. He signed with the Atlanta Falcons in November as a running back and practiced with the team through the rest of the year but didn’t play in any NFL games. He was released before the 1967 season.

John Henry Jackson

Jackson played quarterback for Spencer’s 9-0 state champion in 1956 and state runner-up in 1957 (15-1-4 record in two seasons). He was considered the first Black player from Georgia to play in a major white football conference after signing with the Indiana Hoosiers of the Big Ten.

John Henry Jackson, shown in this undated photo from 1960, played quarterback for the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League and the now-defunct Toronto Rifles of the Continental Football League. He went on to open and operate the Underground Railroad soul food restaurant on King Street in Toronto, where he hosted celebrities and jazz music.

He played one varsity season at Indiana and was the team’s leading passer (478 yards, six touchdown passes). He also played in the Canadian Football League and Continental Football League.

Jasper Sanks

In 1996, Sanks finished his senior season at Carver as an All-USA first-team running back selection by USA Today with a school-record 5,043 career rushing yards. He was named the top offensive college prospect in the country by the National Recruiting Advisor.

After hernia surgery as a freshman at UGA, Sanks led the 1999 Bulldogs in rushing with 896 yards on 177 carries. Overall at UGA, he rushed for 1,651 yards and 12 touchdowns on 363 carries.

But he was dismissed from the team during his senior season for violating UGA’s marijuana policy a third time. He wasn’t drafted or signed by an NFL team.

Georgia High School Football Hall of Fame inductees from Columbus

Class of 2023

Ernie Green of Spencer, 1957

Jarvis Jones of Carver, 2008

Class of 2022

Otis Sistrunk of Spencer, 1964