North State Journal’s 100 in 100 series will showcase the best athlete from each of North Carolina’s 100 counties. From Alamance to Yancey, each county will feature one athlete who stands above the rest. Some will be obvious choices, others controversial, but all of our choices are worthy of being recognized for their accomplishments — from the diamond and gridiron to racing ovals and the squared circle. You can see all the profiles as they’re unveiled here.
To most sports fans in North Carolina, the No. 23 is synonymous with basketball star Michael Jordan. For those in Camden County, the famous number brings back memories of a different name — that of Shelby Mansfield, whose No. 23 is still the only one ever retired by the local high school.
A three-sport star, Mansfield solidified his status as a local legend with prolific individual performances that included a five-touchdown game in football and a Jordan-like 45-point explosion on the basketball court. His stature only grew after leaving to play football at NC State in 1960.
A running back who possessed the rare combination of strength and speed, Mansfield played on Wolfpack teams that won or shared three straight ACC championships. In his senior season of 1965, he led the conference in total yards from scrimmage — gaining 618 yards on the ground while catching 15 passes for another 145 yards.
After college, Mansfield had an offer to play professionally for the Buffalo Bills of the old American Football League, but he turned it down to get a master’s degree and a teaching job at the College of The Albemarle. He also coached the baseball team at the Elizabeth City school, sending several players on to Division I schools and taking it to the Junior College World Series in Grand Junction, Colorado, in 1976.
The Dolphins went 34-10 that season and finished fourth in the nation. But despite that success, the program was discontinued shortly thereafter because of a lack of funds. Mansfield stayed on as a faculty member at COA until retiring to his Camden County farm in 1998.