STARKVILLE – Five new inductees into the Mississippi State Sports Hall of Fame will officially be enshrined Sept. 20-21 when the football Bulldogs host Kentucky on the MSU campus.
The five-member Class of 2019 includes: All-American defensive back Frank Dowsing Jr. (1969-72, posthumously), All-SEC running back Michael Haddix (1979-82), All-SEC outfielder Mike Kelley (1976-79), volleyball and softball’s Tina (Burcham) Seals (1981-84, 2004-08) and All-SEC men’s basketball standout Darryl Wilson (1994-96).
The annual MSU Sports Hall of Fame Gala will be held Friday, Sept. 20, at The Mill Conference Center beginning at 7 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at msumclub.org for $100 per person, with proceeds benefitting the MSU M-Club Alumni. The class will be recognized the following day in Davis Wade Stadium when the Bulldogs host Kentucky in their 2019 SEC opener.
Dowsing and Robert Bell were MSU’s first African-American student-athletes. In 1969, Dowsing enrolled in Starkville and joined the Bulldogs’ freshman football team. A year later as a member of the varsity squad, he guided State to its first winning season in seven years.
The Tupelo native was a two-time All-SEC defensive back selection in 1971 and 1972. As a senior, Football News named him a first-team All-American. That same fall, he became the first player in MSU history to earn the prestigious honor of National Football Foundation National Scholar-Athlete.
Dowsing was voted Mr. Mississippi State in October 1972 and finished his career as the school’s all-time leader in interceptions with 10. He died at the age of 42 on July 11, 1994. On Nov. 23, 2017, MSU formally dedicated the north end plaza of Davis Wade Stadium as the Dowsing-Bell Plaza, serving as a tribute to the two pioneers.
Haddix is one of the greatest running backs in Bulldog history, rushing for 2,558 yards and accounting for 22 touchdowns from 1979-82. The Walnut native established the school record for yards per carry (6.0), and he finished second on MSU’s all-time rushing list and second in 100-yard games (9).
Haddix was a two-time second-team All-SEC selection from 1981-82 behind only Georgia’s Herschel Walker. He helped lead the Bulldogs to multiple bowl games, including a 1981 season that saw MSU post an 8-4 record, a victory over Kansas in the Hall of Fame Bowl, and a No. 17 final national ranking.
Haddix rushed for 101 yards in his final collegiate game, a 27-10 Egg Bowl victory over rival Ole Miss. After playing in the Hula, Senior and Blue-Gray All-Star games following his senior season, Haddix became the highest drafted Bulldog running back in the modern era when the Philadelphia Eagles selected him eighth overall. He played eight NFL seasons, including six with Philadelphia and two with the Green Bay Packers.
Kelley proved to be one of the most prolific centerfielders and leadoff hitters in Diamond Dawg history. A four-year starter from 1976-79, Kelley still holds the MSU career record for stolen bases (79) and outfield assists (21). Today, he ranks tied for 10th in MSU career batting average (.357).
As a senior in 1979, Kelley batted .400, stole 27 bases and tallied an MSU single-season record 12 triples, a mark that still stands today. That year, he helped guide the Bulldogs to the SEC regular season and tournament championships as well as the program’s first College World Series since 1971. The squad finished with a then-school record 48 victories and a 17-2 mark in SEC play. In the process, the Des Plaines, Illinois, native was tabbed as an American Baseball Coaches Association All-American.
Kelley was a two-time first-team All-SEC honoree (1977, ’79), a two-time ABCA All-Region selection (1977, ’79) and a two-time NCAA Regional All-Tournament team member (1978, ’79). He was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the 32nd round following his stellar senior campaign.
Seals is one of the most successful two-sport performers in Bulldog history. A native of Florence, Alabama, she lettered four seasons in volleyball (1981-84) and two seasons as a softball outfielder (1982-83). A three-time volleyball team captain, Seals holds the distinction of becoming the first MSU player to earn All-SEC accolades when she did so as a senior in 1984, a campaign in which she paced the Bulldogs with 387 kills and a .316 hitting percentage. Her .274 attack percentage still ranks fourth in MSU career annals.
Seals got her first taste of coaching as an undergraduate assistant on Vivian Langley’s MSU volleyball staff in 1985, launching a successful career that would span multiple decades. From 1992-2003, she enjoyed an impressive run as the head coach at Northwest-Shoals (Alabama) Community College before becoming MSU’s ninth head volleyball coach in March 2004.
Seals turned the program around, guiding the Bulldogs to back-to-back winning seasons in 2005 and 2006. Her 2005 team produced the school’s first SEC Tournament berth since qualification standards were put in place following the 1998 season. The success continued the following season as Seals’ squad opened the year with a 10-1 record en route to a 17-13 finish, representing State’s most wins since 1996. She coached five seasons.
Wilson, a standout guard from Kennedy, Alabama, captured All-SEC honors during each of his three seasons with the basketball Bulldogs, highlighted by a first-team coaches selection in 1996 as a senior. He also was a two-time National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) All-District honoree in 1995 and 1996.
MSU racked up 66 victories and earned three postseason appearances during Wilson’s career, highlighted by 1996 NCAA Final Four and 1995 NCAA Sweet 16 trips under head coach Richard Williams. He was named MSU’s SEC Basketball Legend in 2011.
Wilson registered double figures in 83 of 93 career games fueled by 32 outings of 20-plus points. He secured 1996 SEC All-Tournament Team honors and provided 22 points against No. 1 Kentucky in the championship game as MSU won the school’s first SEC Tournament crown with a memorable victory over the Wildcats.
Wilson is the program’s all-time leader in NCAA Tournament career scoring (164), owning two of the top four scoring performances in school history. He poured in 27 points against top-seeded Connecticut in the 1996 Sweet 16 en route to NCAA All-Southeast Regional honors. Wilson is listed among the Maroon and White’s career top 10 in points (1,619 – 8th), scoring average (17.4 – 5th), free throws made (439 – 4th), free throw percentage (81.1 – 5th), three-pointers made (258 – 3rd) and three-point percentage (40.0 – 3rd).