Four Razorbacks chosen for Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Four former Razorbacks will be inducted into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame as part of its 2009 class it was announced on Monday. Former Razorback basketball great Corliss Williamson and former football standouts Martine Bercher Jr., R.C. Thielemann and Jarrell Williams are among the 10 inductees that will be officially enshrined on Feb. 12, 2009 at a banquet at Alltel Arena in North Little Rock.
Other 2009 inductees include Crossett track coach Bobby Richardson, Arkansas State basketball player Jerry Rook, Arkansas Tech basketball player Kenny Saylors, National Football League official Walt Coleman and college basketball coach Charlie Spoonhour. In addition, women’s basketball hall of famer Lurlyne Greer from Des Arc will be honored posthumously along with Bercher.
One of the most decorated basketball players in UA history, Williamson was a two-time All-American (1993-94, 1994-95) and two-time SEC Player of the Year (1993-94, 1994-95) for the Razorbacks. As a sophomore in 1993-94, he earned Most Outstanding Player honors in the NCAA Tournament in leading the Hogs to their first national basketball crown with a 76-72 win over the Duke Blue Devils. He averaged 20.4 points a game in Arkansas’ national championship season. In his junior campaign, Williamson helped the Razorbacks to a national runner-up finish. In his three-year tenure, Arkansas posted a record of 85-19 with one overall SEC title and three SEC Western Division crowns. A Russellville, Ark., native, he ranks as the school’s eighth leading scorer with 1,728 points and UA’s ninth leading career rebounder with 647 rebounds. He lettered three times for the Razorbacks before entering the NBA draft following his junior season. A first-round draft pick by the Sacramento Kings in 1995, he spent 12 years in the NBA including stints with the Kings, Toronto Raptors, the Detroit Pistons and the Philadelphia 76ers. Williamson was inducted into the University of Arkansas Sports Hall of Honor in 2003.
Martine Bercher lettered in football three times (1964-66) and helped the Razorbacks win the 1964 national title. He earned All-America and All-Southwest Conference honors as a safety in 1966. He was a first-team All-America selection by both the American Football Coaches Association and UPI. He made 30 tackles and intercepted three passes as a senior, and also led the SWC in punt returns with 375 yards. During his career, he returned 25 punts for 383 yards and three touchdowns. On the defensive side of the ball, he tallied 58 tackles and seven interceptions. He played for two SWC championship teams in addition to the undefeated 1964 national championship team. Bercher was named to UA’s All-Century Team in 1994 and was inducted into the University of Arkansas Sports Hall of Honor in 2002.
A dominating blocker for four seasons on the Razorbacks’ offensive line, R.C. Thielemann showed his promise shortly after arriving on the Fayetteville campus. A four-year letterman from 1973-76, he became a starter during his freshman season, launching a remarkable streak of 42 consecutive starts. He earned the starting nod in the final eight games of his freshman campaign as well as every game in his sophomore, junior and senior seasons. He garnered All-Southwest Conference honors at offensive guard in 1975 and helped the Razorbacks to a 10-2 record, including a win over Georgia in the Cotton Bowl. As a senior, he moved to center where he earned All-SWC honors for the second consecutive year. He is one of only two Razorbacks to earn all-conference honors at two positions. A member of the 1970s All-Decade Team, he earned a spot on Arkansas’ All-Century Team selected as part of the football centennial celebration in 1994. Following his collegiate career, he was drafted in the second round by the Atlanta Falcons. He played 12 seasons in the NFL, including an eight-year stint with the Falcons (1977-84) and a four-year stint with the Washington Redskins (1985-88). Thielemann was inducted into the University of Arkansas Sports Hall of Honor in 2005.
A two-time UA football letterman and a 2001 University of Arkansas Sports Hall of Honor, Williams played halfback and defensive back on two Southwest Conference championship teams during his Razorback tenure. His twin brother Darrell was a fullback for the Hogs during the same span. The brothers were a part of the 1959 squad that posted a 9-2 record as well as the 1960 squad that finished 8-3. Jarrell Williams rushed for 259 yards and earned an interception as a senior. After a short stint as a freshman coach under Frank Broyles and an assistant high school football coach in Oklahoma, Williams took a job as the head coach at Springdale High School in 1965. That began a legendary career that resulted in Williams compiling a career record of 261-133-5 with the Bulldogs including four state championships and 11 conference titles. Williams retired from Springdale High School following the 2000 football season.