By Jeff Shearer
Montgomery, Ala - Corey Grant earned the nickname "Tail Lights" because of his blazing speed.
But on Monday, while carrying the flag as his father, Ike, was introduced at the 26th annual Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, Corey's pace was slow and steady.
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"It means a lot," Corey said. "For all of his hard work to pay off and be inducted into this Hall of Fame, it means a lot. For me to be able to carry the flag for him, and to be his son."
Corey, a former Auburn running back, is in his second season with the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars.
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Ike, who played college football at Alabama State, is the winningest head football coach in Lafayette High School history. Even though Corey played at Opelika before playing for the Tigers, Ike was still very much his coach.
"It helped out a lot. He knew the ins and outs," Corey Grant said. "But also it was tough. He was tough on me. He was on me more than my regular coach was."
Ike Grant was one of 11 inductees in the Hall of Fame's Class of 2016, including three Auburn graduates.
A star outfielder on Auburn's 1963 SEC Championship baseball team, Gerelds coached Deshler's football team to a 15-0 record and the 1990 4A state championship.
He's best known for his role in helping guide his alma mater, Woodlawn High School, during integration in the early `70s. The movie Woodlawn tells the story of that difficult time and Gerelds' superstar running back, Tony Nathan.
"He was a father away from home," Nathan said. "He took me under his wing. Kept me out of trouble during that time when it was very easy to find. Just the fact that he had faith in me and thought enough of me to do that for me. He didn't have to. He just believed in me that there was something in me that he felt like he could help. And I appreciate him a great deal."
Gerelds married his wife, Debbie, when they were students at Auburn. They shared 38 years, before his death from cancer in 2003.
"I loved being a coach's wife," Debbie said. "He loved coaching. He loved young people. He was a huge competitor. Always wanted to win. But mostly, he said, `what I wanted to do is instill a work ethic and character, and a dedication to the group.' His motto he loved was, `We, not me.' That you're willing to sacrifice your identity for the sake of the team and the group. And it was just a wonderful 38 years."
Devotion to Auburn is a tradition in the Beverly family, one that dates back at least 70 years.
"I still have a plaque that my dad got in 1946, that was an orange and blue ribbon with `Auburn Tigers' on it," Beverly said. "And that's a keepsake to this very day."
In 7th grade, Beverly gave a speech in Language Arts on why he wanted to coach and teach.
A few years later, Auburn coach Ralph "Shug" Jordan spoke at Beverly's football banquet his junior year at Handley.
"I told him later on. I said, `Coach, you scared me, because you said, if you come to Auburn and you miss one day, it'll take you two days to make up for it,'" Beverly said. "When I went to Auburn, I missed one day of class the entire time I was there from '63 to '66. He inspired me, along with the fact that I always was a student of the game. I went to the first Auburn head coaching football clinic in 1968. It was held at Thach Auditorium."
Beverly coached 23 years at Clay County, before moving to Wadley, Smiths Station and Russell County.
"At the inception, when the Hall of Fame first started, I thought, `I hope one day I can merit to be there myself,'" Beverly said. "I've said before, many people may deserve the honor more than myself. But not anybody in this state will appreciate it more than myself. That's what it means to me."
A high school wrestler at Benjamin Russell, Buzbee's love for the sport intensified at Auburn, when he spent time with legendary coach Arnold Umbach.
In the `70s, Auburn students such as Buzbee who were interested in coaching had a chance to learn from Coach Jordan's assistants.
"They even taught classes," Buzbee said. "A lot of the football coaches would teach classes in football. A lot of people who were going into coaching were able to talk to coaches one on one. A tremendous impact."
Coaching at his alma mater, the Wildcats won three 4A state wrestling championships. Buzbee also served as athletic director for Alexander City Schools from 2001 to 2009.
"It's not about me. It's about the kids we've been able to touch and make an impact upon them," Buzbee said. "Our love for Auburn has been a big thing. Being in Alex City, only 45 minutes away, has been a great part, too. We've been season ticket holders for football for years. But since I've retired, we're now basketball, softball, and my wife loves gymnastics, so we're also gymnastics fans, too.
"We love everything about it. I know we talk about the Auburn Family, but it truly is," he said. "I've traveled all over the nation. Different college campuses. It's a unique feeling when you're at Auburn. And I'm so proud to be able to say, `That's where I got my start,' as far as an athletic standpoint. All three of our children have also graduated from Auburn. So we're an Auburn family, throughout."
Jeff Shearer is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @jeff_shearer