All-American Bulldog linebacker Thomas Davis along with All-American softballer Nicole Barber, three-time national diving champion Chris Colwill, and All-American shot putter Reese Hoffa will comprise the Class of 2017 to be inducted into the UGA Circle of Honor. Barber, Colwill, Davis and Hoffa will be inducted formally during the Circle of Honor Gala on Feb. 12, 2018 at the UGA Fine Arts Theater.
The Circle of Honor is designed to pay tribute to extraordinary student-athletes and coaches who by their performance and conduct have brought honor to the university and themselves, and who by their actions have contributed to the tradition of the Georgia Bulldogs. The criteria also stipulate that each recipient has earned his or her academic degree.
It seems entirely fitting that Barber is the first softball-playing Circle of Honor inductee. A four-year letter winner from 2001-04, she became the first great player in the young program’s history. Her outstanding play helped turn Georgia from an ascendant program to the national fixture it is today.
The Oregon City, Ore., native earned All-America honors in each of her final three seasons, starting in 2002, when she batted .420 and led the Bulldogs to a 59-17 record. Their NCAA Tournament appearance that year became the first in a current string of 16 consecutive seasons for the program.
Barber, who also won All-SEC honors four straight years, is the all-time leader in career stolen bases (257) and consecutive error-free games played (219) in the UGA, SEC and NCAA record books. She also ranks fourth in NCAA history — first in both UGA and the SEC — in hits with 379. Barber remains the only player in UGA history to collect at least 100 hits in a single season, reaching that mark in 2002 and 2004.
Barber earned her degree in consumer economics from UGA in 2005.
Colwill earned four letters for Georgia (2004-06, 2008) and is the greatest, most accomplished diver in school history. The Brandon, Fla., native should also be regarded as one of the top divers in the history of the NCAA and Southeastern Conference.
Colwill won three NCAA individual diving titles during his time with the Bulldogs and earned the maximum of 12 All-America honors. He won the 1- and 3-meter springboard crowns in 2006 and added another 1-meter championship in 2008, becoming the first male student-athlete in UGA history to win three individual NCAA championships. Colwill was also a five-time SEC individual champion, taking the 1-meter in 2005 and 2006, the 3-meter in 2005 and 2006, and the platform in 2006. In 2005, he became Georgia’s first double winner since 1967. He was chosen as the SEC Freshman of the Year in 2004, the SEC Diver of the Year in 2005, 2006 and 2008.
Colwill earned his degree in Speech Communication from UGA in 2008, the same year in which he made his first U.S. Olympic Team. He earned another Olympic Team berth in 2012, when he took first place on the 3-meter board at the U.S. Olympic Trials. His victory at the U.S. trials marked the last of his 10 national championships, a collection that began when he took first place in the platform competition at the U.S. Junior Nationals as a 10-year-old in 1994.
A native of Shellman, Ga., Davis was a three-year letterman at free safety for the Bulldogs from 2002-04. After his sophomore season in 2003, he earned second-team All-Southeastern Conference honors. He was recognized as a first-team All-SEC selection and a first-team All-American after his junior season in 2004. In 39 career games, Davis recorded 272 tackles, 17 for a loss, 10.5 sacks, three interceptions, six forced fumbles, and four fumble recoveries.
While at Georgia, Davis was a vital member of three Georgia teams that posted at least 10 wins each and also brought home winners’ trophies from the Sugar Bowl, Capital One Bowl and Outback Bowl in succession. After his junior season, Davis made himself available for the 2005 NFL Draft and was taken by the Carolina Panthers in the first round. Six years later he returned to UGA and completed his undergraduate degree in Consumer Economics.
Davis has put together a remarkable career in the NFL. In addition to his stellar defensive play (All-Pro in 2016 at age 33), he has distinguished himself in two major areas. First, he has overcome significant injuries multiple times, thrice recovering from reconstructive knee surgery, an unprecedented feat in pro football. Additionally, in 2016 he suffered a broken arm in the Panthers’ NFC Championship win over Arizona. He underwent surgery the next day and kept a vow to play in the Super Bowl 13 days later. Second, Davis has won many honors for his philanthropic work, most notably the 2014 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award.
Hoffa will become the second shot putter to join the Circle of Honor, following Brent Noon’s induction in 2009. The Augusta native enjoyed a successful career as a collegiate thrower from 1998-2001, but he really shined in his later competitive years on the international stage.
Hoffa showed steady progress during his career at UGA. He advanced to the 1998 and 1999 NCAA Outdoor Championships and took 11th both years. He wrapped up his final two years by becoming a three-time First-Team All-American indoors and outdoors, topping out at third at the 2001 NCAA outdoor meet. Hoffa also clinched the 2001 SEC outdoor title in his final season sporting the Red and Black.
Remaining in Athens after completing his degree in Health and Physical Education in 2002, Hoffa rose to the No. 1 world shot put ranking in four different years. He finished among the world’s top three shot putters for 10 straight years, an unsurpassed feat among throwers. He was a three-time USA Outdoor champion (2007-08, 2012), twice a world champion (2006 Indoor and 2007 Outdoor) and three times an Olympic Games competitor (2004, 2008, 2012). Hoffa capped his Olympic experience by winning the bronze medal at the London games in 2012.