CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – There have been several famous Rudolphs from Clarksville. Everyone knows Olympic champion Wilma Rudolph and PGA golfer Mason Rudolph. Both are members of the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame.
A third Rudolph may not be as well known, but he should be. His name was Jake Rudolph, and he was the brother of Mason.
In June of next year, he will join his brother and be inducted into the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame.
A lifetime of football
Jake Rudolph was born in Clarksville in 1929 and died on July 6, 2008. His football career started at Clarksville High and continued as he played for Georgia Tech. Jake played college football at Tech under legendary coaches Bobby Dodd, Ray Graves and Frank Broyles as a defensive back. He started on back-to-back undefeated teams in 1951 and 1952 that played in and won the Orange and Sugar Bowls respectively.
He was the longtime high school football coach at Memphis University School. In his 39 years coaching football at MUS, Coach Rudolph won 295 games. That number includes a state championship in 1985, two second place finishes and a total of 16 trips to the playoffs.
“We are incredibility proud on him, of the things he did over the course of his career and his life,” said Courtnay Rudolph, Jake’s son. “His coaching career and the impact he had on so many young men, that is something that is just priceless.”
Brothers in the hall of fame
Very few brothers are in the hall of fame.
“I think for two brothers, both from Clarksville, to be in the hall of fame, I just think that is fantastic,” Courtnay said.
“My whole family, my brothers and my mom, we are incredibility proud of the honor. He was always proud of his heritage and where he grew up. The Clarksville connection was still a pretty big part of his life.
“The thing that describes my dad more than anything is humility and also the fact that he was a winner.”
‘A long time coming’
Courtnay added, “I don’t know if people realize it, but he played on six undefeated teams in the span of nine years. I think he played on two at Clarksville, the two at Georgia Tech, and he played in the Air Force, over in Germany, on two Armed Forces Championship teams.
“We are grateful. He won 295 games at MUS and seven at the Darlington School (in Rone, Georgia), and we are very grateful. It has been a long time coming.
“Every time I see some of the kids he coached at MUS, you just kind of go, ‘Wow.’ That is quite a legacy when you see the lives that he influenced.”
During his tenure at MUS, Jake was awarded many honors as a head coach, including being named Tennessee Coach of the Year, Lawrenceburg Touchdown Club Coach of the Year and Memphis Quarterback Coach of the Year.
While at Georgia Tech, Jake made a tackle that is still talked about today by fans.
During the 1952 season, he made the tackle on a fourth-and-goal against the University of Alabama’s running back Bobby Marlow on the 2-yard line, and it ended up saving the Yellow Jackets’ trip to the Sugar Bowl and a national championship.
“That was the most famous tackle in Georgia Tech history. I went down there a few years ago and went to the Bobby Dodd Stadium and stood on the part of the field where he made the tackle, and it put chills up and down my spine,” said Courtnay.
Also a golfer
“One of the facts that most people don’t realize is that when he was playing on the undefeated teams that were national championship football teams at Georgia Tech, he also played golf,” Courtnay noted. “As a matter of fact, in 1952 after the first three rounds, he led the Southern Collegian tournament, which served as the SEC championship at that time.
“So after three rounds, he was leading over Billy Maxwell, Hillman Robbins and Don January, people that Mason ended up playing with. This 5’7” 150-pound football player was leading. I think he ended up finishing in the top 10. That is pretty special.”
“The thing that stands out to me is that my dad and his brother, Mason, were two of the most humble people I have ever met,” Courtnay said.
“The love he had for Mason and that Mason had for him always was something that my brothers and I were astonished by. It was something to behold. You will never see a stronger bond between two brothers and a stronger love than between my dad and Mason.”
Rudolph and 10 others will be inducted on June 6 in Nashville at the Omni Hotel as a part of the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2015.
Courtesy of: Robert Smith