Philip Jennings
Class of 2019

Philip Jennings

Philip Jennings wasn’t sure what to think when opened his mailbox to find a letter from Athens. Jennings, who now lives outside St. Louis, opened the envelope with curiosity, but his curiosity quickly turned to surprise when he read the letter’s contents — he had been selected to the Limestone County Sports Hall of Fame.

“I was taken aback when I got the letter in the mail,” Jennings said. “I opened it up, and said, ‘Wow, it really happened.’”

Jennings played football for Athens High School from 1970–72, starring as both a linebacker and tight end. He was a member of the only Athens team to finish a regular season undefeated, a feat achieved in his senior season of 1972. Jennings was also a member of the track and field team, winning two state championships in the sport.

After high school, Jennings went on to play football at Auburn University. But it was his high school days he enjoyed the most, especially that undefeated 1972 team.

“Coach (Larry) McCoy really worked us into the game as quickly as possible when we came into varsity football as sophomores,” Jennings said. “That made a difference in our last successful undefeated season. We had grown up with each other and just got better every year. It was just an honor to be a part of a team like that.”

Jennings was selected to the All-State team as linebacker after his senior season. McCoy said Jennings was one of his top players.

“He was just a joy to coach,” McCoy said. “He was not only a good player with a lot of ability, but he was very smart and very motivated. He always gave 100%. He was just one of those players, the kind that you love to coach.” After college, Jennings moved out of state and lost touch with some of his former Athens teammates. But he said over the last few years, he has started to get back in contact with those he went to high school with and was honored to be selected to the Hall of Fame.

“My brother-in-law talked to me about it sometime and asked me why I wasn’t in the hall of fame,” Jennings said. “I said, ‘I didn’t even know they had one.’ He said I had been as successful as the other guys, and I deserved it. I think he is the one who nominated me, and I guess I checked off all the boxes. It’s such an honor. I’m thrilled to death. All my buddies are jealous. This community was so good to me, and I’m looking forward to the evening.”

Jennings said his time at Athens is among the greatest in his life, and he is looking forward to seeing many of the people he played with.

“It’s really incredible to look back at our youth, even when you get to my age,” Jennings said. “You think of what a joy it was. I’d do it all over again, even with the aches and pains I’ve got now. It was all worth it. The camaraderie, the team spirit, it was all great.”

McCoy said he was glad to see Jennings receive the honor he felt his former player deserved for years.

“It makes us proud as coaches when our players get honored and recognized,” McCoy said. “We know they’re worthy of being recognized, but sometimes they don’t always get it. We are just real pleased not just me, but all of the coaches we had during his tenure at Athens.”