Antioch High great Lester McClain, who became the first African-American football player at Tennessee (1968-70), and former Tennessean and Nashville Banner sports columnist Joe Biddle will be inducted into the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame.
The 2016 class also includes former Titans quarterback Steve McNair, former Baylor golf coach King Oehmig from Chattanooga, who will both will be inducted posthumous.
Automobile racing legend Mike Curb, a Nashville resident, is in the class along with former Tennessee defensive back Conrad Graham, Olympian (middle distance runner) Missy Kane and Memphis wide receiver Ernest Gray.
The Hall also chose the Canale Brothers, who were from Memphis and each played football in the SEC at Tennessee (George, Frank and Whit) and Mississippi State (Justin, Billy and Conn).
Not only was McClain, a wide receiver, the first African-American to suit up for UT, he was the first to see significant playing time in the SEC.
The first game in which McClain played was against Georgia on Sept. 14, 1968, under coach Doug Dickey.
During his career with the Vols McClain had 70 catches for 1,003 yards and 10 touchdowns. He also returned eight kickoffs for 168 yards.
McClain was selected in the ninth round of the 1971 NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears.
Biddle, a Johnson City native and 1971 East Tennessee State graduate, is a four-time recipient of the Tennessee Sportswriter of the Year from the Tennessee Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association.
He went to work at the Nashville Banner in 1979 and after it ceased publication moved to The Tennessean in 1998.
Curb also is an icon in the music industry. As a car owner Curb’s special achievements in motorsports include more than 400 auto racing victories in 25 different series, including winning the Indianapolis 500, winning in NASCAR at Daytona, over 1,000 top 5 finishes, over 20 national championships and the only entrant to win the USAC Triple Crown (silver crown cars, midget cars, sprint cars) in the same year.
He also won as an owner/entrant in all four NASCAR owned major national series (Sprint Cup – Richard Petty), Nationwide (Johnny Sauter), Camping World Trucks (Johnny Sauter), Grand-Am Rolex Daytona Prototype (Shank/Curb-Agajanian).
In his 13-year NFL career, McNair passed for 31,304 yards and 74 touchdowns. He added 3,590 rushing yards and 37 rushing TDs.
The Hall will also honor longtime Milligan College coachDuard Walkeras the Lifetime Achievement inductee.
As its official in 2016 the Hall will recognize Mike Taylor, a Jackson native who played football at UT Martin.
Taylor served as a TSSAA football official until 1993 when he joined the Ohio Valley Conference. He was hired by the SEC in 1999.
The class will be enshrined at the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame’s 50th anniversary induction banquet on June 18.
Reach Mike Organ at 615-259-8021 and on Twitter @MikeOrganWriter.