Cookeville Football: Cavalier Hall of Fame

2007 Cavalier Hall of Fame Inductees

Coach E. H. "Jelly" Watson

Organized sports at Cookeville High School was started by this beloved sports ...

Flavious "Smitty" Smith '48
Know as one of the best all-around athletes ever to have player at Cookeville Central High, Flavious "Smitty" Smith ...

Thomas Whitaker '47
Known throughout the Upper Cumberland as one of the most explosive players to play for Cookeville High School, ...

Jim Carlen '50

An outstanding center, tackle and linebacker, Jim Carlen was a force on Coach Jelly Watson's powerhouse teams of the late 40's. Following a stellar high school gridiron career, Jim received a football scholarship to Georgia Tech, where he played for the legendary coach Bobby Dodd. After graduation from college, Carlen, like many other of "Jelly Boys", began a remarkably successful coaching career.

As a Cavalier, Carlen was a tough, hardnosed lineman who was versatile enough to play center, tackle and linebacker and his athleticism is illustrated by the fact that he was also and excellent punter. Carlen played for Coach Jelly Watson from 1947 to 1950, a four year stretch in which the Cavaliers lost but six games in four years and won four straight UCC championships. He was a member of the 1947 Cavalier squad that gave up only nineteen (19) points all season and averaged 33.6 points a game. Following his senior year in 1950, Carlen was named All-UCC, All Mid-State and he received the Central High Athletic Award. Carlen also played basketball and American Legion baseball.

After graduating from high school, Carlen left Cookeville and headed to Georgia Tech University to play for legendary coach Bobby Dodd. Carlen was a member of Dodd's 1951 and 1952 back to back National Championship teams. Following his graduation from Georgia Tech in 1954, Carlen returned to Cookeville Central High in 1955 and became an assistant for Coach Jelly Watson. The 1955 squad finished the season with a 9-1 record and won the UCC Championship. Carlen entered the Air Force in 1957 and he continued coaching football as a player/coach while stationed in Germany.

Carlen began his college coaching career as an assistant to Coach Dodd at Georgia Tech. Coach Carlen left Georgia Tech to begin his first stint as a head football coach at the University of West Virginia, where his offensive coordinator was Coach Bobby Bowden and one of his assistant coaches was Cookeville's Jim Ragland. After four seasoms at West Virginia, he took over the head coaching duties at Texas Tech. Coach Carlen left Texas Tech after the 1974 season to join the University of South Carolina staff as the athletic director and head coach of the Gamecocks. Coach Carlen's 1980 team is still highly regarded by the University of South Carolina as one of the best in the history of the school, a team led by Heisman trophy winner George Rogers.

While coaching at South Carolina, he was awarded the State of South Carolina's highest honor, the Order of the Palmetto by Governor James B. Edwards on March 18, 1978. The South Carolina General Assembly honored Carlen in 2006 for his outstanding career as a college football coach and for his service to the University of South Carolina as a football coach and athletic director.

Jim Ragland '57

One of the most exciting offensive players to ever play for Cookeville High School. After his high school graduation, Ragland continued his career in athletics as a player, coach and administrator at Tennessee Tech University; an institution he had as association with for thirty-nine years.

As a Cavalier, Ragland first stepped on the practice field as a freshman in 1954 and never looked back. He started for the Cavaliers at quarterback all four years of his high school career. Jim was cat quick with a great arm, but he will perhaps be best remembered as a great field general that always gave his team a chance to win. Playing for legendary coach Jelly Watson, the Cavaliers lost only two football games from 1955 to 1957 and Jim quarterbacked the 1956 squad that finished number three in the state and gave Coach Watson his last undefeated season. As a player, Jim scored running, passing and running back punts and he was always near or at the top of all offensive categories in the state. He was twice named to the UCC All Conference team. As a senior, he was selected All Mid-State and All-State in addition to being named a Prep All American.

Following his high school graduation, Ragland was offered scholarships by twenty-five or more colleges and universities. Jim accepted the scholarship offered by Ole Miss and he was the starting quarterback on their freshman team. The next year, Jim elected to return home to play for Tennessee Tech. A three year letter winner as a Golden Eagle quarterback. Ragland set several school records while handling the Tech offense from 1961 to 1963. He still ranks as one of the top quarterbacks in the Tech record books, ranking in career total offense and career passing. His senior year (1963) was capped off by earning All-OVC honors. Ragland graduated from Tennessee Tech in 1964 with a bachelor's degree in physical education.

Following his playing days, he began his coaching career in 1965 at West Virginia University under head coach Jim Carlen. When Carlen moved to Texas Tech, Ragland followed. In 1973, Ragland accepted the post of offensive coordinator at the University of Tampa, and in 1975 he took a similar position at Memphis State University. In 1979, he left the coaching profession and returned to his alma mater as executive director of the Tennessee Tech Athletic Foundation, working in promotions and fundraising. Ragland took a position on Tech's coaching staff during the 1984-85 seasons under Gary Darnell. Upon Darnell's resignation in 1985, Ragland was named the eighth head coach to lead the Tennessee Tech football program and just the second Tech graduate to return to lead their alma mater. He served as head coach of the Golden Eagles through the 1995 season.

Ragland earned various honors during his time as Tech's Head Coach, including Tennessee Sports Writers Association's Coach of the Year following the 1992 season in which he led Tech to its best record in 15 years. He was also named Kodak I-AA Region 3 Coach of the Year and was a finalist for I-AA National Coach of the Year. His teams were ranked in the I-AA Top 25 in 1992 and 1993. In 1981, his playing talent, hard work and popularity at the University and in the community helped him get elected to the Golden Eagle Sports Hall of Fame. Jim Ragland passed away in May of 2006.

Watson Brown '67

An incredibly gifted athlete, Watson Brown is arguably the most prolific offensive player to have ever played as a Cavalier. Possessing a strong, accurate arm and an elusive running style that more often than not left opposing players lunging at air. Waton led a strong Bucky Pitts team in 1967 to an undefeated season and a decisive victory over a strong Clarksville team in the Cookeville Civitan Bowl, a game many thought Cookeville had no chance of winning. Following his graduation, Watson went to Vanderbilt University to energize the struggling Commodores. After graduating from Vanderbilt, Watson followed in the footsteps of his grandfather, Eddie "Jelly" Watson and pursued a career in coaching and quickly established himself as an offensive wizard.

A three-sports star in high school, Watson did it all for the Cavaliers. He starred at quarterback for the football team, was a brilliant shortstop for the baseball team and played point guard for the Cavalier basketball team. But, like younger brother Mack, it was on the football field that Watson's athletic talent shined. Perhaps best known for his passing, Watson was also nearly untouchable in the open field. During the undefeated 1967 campaign, the Cavaliers averaged 35.4 points per game and held opponents to 7.4 points per game. As a senior, Watson was named 1st Team All Mid-State, All-State, Mid-State MVP, All UCC Conference. He played on the East All-Star team in the East-West All-Star Game and he was named as a Prep All-American.

Upon graduation, he attended Vanderbilt University where he played shortstop on the baseball team, but is best known for his memorable football career. Brown was a standout quarterback for the Commodores from 1969-72 and is perhaps best remembered for leading Vandy to a 14-10 upset win over Alabama in 1969. For his efforts, he was named Sports Illustrated Player of the Week and was also chosen SEC Player of the week twice (against Kentucky and Davidson).

Brown began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Vanderbilt in 1973. He was an assistant coach for East Carolina, Jacksonville State and Texas Tech before making his head coaching debut at Austin Peay University at age 29. At age 29, Watson was one of the youngest head coaches in the nation and was runner up for Ohio Valley Conference Coach of the Year honors twice. Returning to his alma mater, Brown served as offensive coordinator at Vanderbilt for two seasons (1981-82), where his offense set 57 school records and the Commodores posted an 8-3 record and made a Hall of Fame Bowl appearance. Before coaching at Vanderbilt, Brown was athletic director and head football coach at Rice (1984-85). He led the Owls to two of their best offensive seasons. In 1983, Brown was head coach at Cincinnati, where he lead the Bearcats to a season opening 14-3 victory at defending national champion Penn State.

After assistant coaching stints at Mississippi State and Oklahoma, Brown was the head football coach at Vanderbilt from 1986-90. He was head coach at The Universtiy of Alabama-Birmingham from 1995-2006 and in addition he served as Athletic Director at UAB between 2002-2005. In December of 2006, Watson returned home to Cookeville as the new head coach of the Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles. 

Mack Brown '68

Possessing speed, strength and toughness, Mack Brown is truly on of the great all-time Cavalier players. While older brother Watson's running style was elusive and designed to make opposing players miss, Mack more often than not ran right through opposing players on his way to the goal line. Mack played for the Cavaliers from 1965 to 1968 and was a key component to the success of the legendary Bucky Pitts teams of the late 60's. Following his graduation from high school, Mack followed Watson to Vanderbilt University and after two seasons in Nashville transferred to Florida State, where he lettered twice. Following college, Mack followed family tradition and made coaching his career and success has followed him at every stop along the way.

As a Cavalier, Mack was one half of perhaps the most dynamic brother duos to have ever player in the State of Tennessee. Mack was a three sport star at Putnam County High School, playing not only football, but also basketball and baseball. But, it was on the football field where Mack's athletic talent and competitive spirit was on full display. Mack was an instrumental component to the 1967 Cavalier squad that was undefeated and finished the year ranked #2 in the state and was generally considered the # 1 public high school in Tennessee. Following the 1968 season and the end of Mack's storied high school career, he was named 1st Team All-Midstate, Nashville Tennessean's Most Valuable Player, All North Central Conference (NCC), MVP of the Cystic Fibrosis Bowl in Chattanooga, UPI All-State, WSM All-State, AP All-State, Knoxville Journal All-State, and he was named Prep All American. 

After graduation from high school, Mack went on to attend Vanderbilt (1969-70) and he graduated from Florida State. He lettered twice as a running back for the Seminoles (1972-73). An injury sidelined him for much of the 1973 season and that led to the start of his coaching career, as he became a student coach. He completed his bachelor's degree in education in 1974.

Mack began his full time coaching career with assistant coaching stints at Southern Mississippi, Memphis, Iowa, and LSU. In just his 10th season of full time coaching, Brown became a head coach, taking over the Appalachian State program in 1983. After one season, he left to become offensive coordinator at Oklahoma. In 1985, he became head coach at Tulane, where he served three years as not only head coach but also athletic director. In 1988, Mack took over a struggling North Carolina program and by 1990 he had turned the Tar Heels into consistent winners. In December of 1997, Mack accepted the head coaching position at the University of Texas, where he remains today. In 2005, he guided the Longhorns to the 2005 BCS National Championship and he enjoys the best winning percentage of any Longhorn coach in history. He is one of the most respected coaches in the game today.