Meet the 2022 Georgia Southern Athletics Hall of Fame Class

EAGLES IN THE HALL OF FAME: Seven former student-athletes were inducted into the Georgia Southern Athletics Hall of Fame.
Pictured are L to R: The Nelson Family, Kate Van Dyke, Elizabeth Nieto Searl, Mike Shepherd, Alex Mash, Taz Dixon and David Young.

Seven former student-athletes joined a coveted group when they were inducted into the Georgia Southern Athletics Hall of Fame during a November celebration. The night after the banquet the new inductees were introduced at halftime during the football game against South Alabama. The new members include:

Taz Dixon (football, 1986-89). The All-American football player left Georgia Southern holding six school records and lettered four times as a safety for the Eagles. He was a significant part of the defense that led the nation in scoring defense, allowing just 12.1 points per game, as the Eagles went 15-0 and won the national title.

Alex Mash (football, 1990-93). A two-time All-American football player who was the Southern Conference (SoCon) Defensive Player of the Year in 1993. He still ranks second on Georgia Southern University’s career sack list (25) and third on the fumble recovery list with five.

The Nelson Family (Rotary Corporation, Glennville, Georgia) has pledged nearly $2 million dollars to the Athletic Foundation. The group, which includes Ed and Jeannie Nelson, Don and Tara Nelson Martin, and Traci Nelson Heilman, gave the full amount to fund the Field of Dreams at Allen E. Paulson Stadium. The group pledged $1 million to name the Hall of Fame in the Ted Smith Family Football Center, which is named in memory of their late father, Bill W. Nelson.

Elizabeth Nieto Searl, (women’s tennis, 1993-96). The most decorated player in Georgia Southern women’s tennis history won six SoCon titles and compiled a 68-4 singles record during her time with the Eagles. The three-time SoCon Player of the Year led the Eagles to back-to-back SoCon Championships in 1995 and 1996.

Mike Shepherd, (baseball, 1985-87). The three-time first-team all-conference selection in baseball remains among the all-time leaders in program history.

He was the MVP of the conference tournament in 1986 and helped lead the Eagles to the semifinals of the NCAA Southeast Regional tournament in 1987. He had a 20-game hitting streak at one point during his final season and was selected in the 32nd Round by the Cincinnati Reds.

Kate Van Dyke (volleyball, 2009-12). The only player in SoCon volleyball history to earn first-team all-league honors all four years and was named the league’s Player of the Year in 2012. She earned SoCon Tournament MVP honors after leading the Eagles to the 2010 SoCon Tournament title and subsequent NCAA Tournament appearance and she helped the team win the SoCon South Division regular-season title in 2012.

David Young (football, 1999-2002). A two-time All-American who helped Georgia Southern to four SoCon Championships and two NCAA Division I-AA National Championships. The four-year starter at strong safety played in 57 games with 39 career starts and 33 consecutive starts.