Past and present HBCU football stars honored at hall of fame induction
Bowie State QB Amir Hall again is named college player of the year
The Black College Hall of Fame welcomed the Class of 2019, six players and one legendary coach at a ceremony held at the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta. It was the 10th class in the hall’s history, recognizing those who played and excelled at historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs).
Also Saturday, Amir Hall, the all-time leading passer in the history of the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA), won his second straight Black College Player of the Year award, the Deacon Jones Trophy. Hall, the CIAA offensive player of the year, led Bowie State to its first NCAA Division II playoff victory last season against West Alabama. He was a two-time CIAA offensive player of the year and led the nation in passing last season for the Division II Bulldogs, with 4,152 yards and 31 touchdowns. He also rushed for 445 yards and seven touchdowns.
“Winning our first conference championship in school history” was the most memorable moment this season, said Hall. “Seeing the joy and the excitement for the university and seeing Bowie just come together for that one day, that was an exciting day not only for me, but the Bowie State family.”
Before Saturday’s inductions, two former HBCU players who are now NFL stars were honored:
Chicago Bears running back and former North Carolina A&T star Tarik Cohen and Indianapolis Colts linebacker Darius Leonard, the former All-American from South Carolina State. They received the Black College Football Pro Player of the Year Award presented by the NFL Players Association. The award recognizes the outstanding professional football player from an HBCU. Arizona Cardinals safety Antoine Bethea of Howard University was selected as the inaugural recipient in 2017.
“It’s great. It’s an honor to see these guys that came here before me, who have paved the way and made it all possible for me to do this,” said Cohen at Saturday’s hall of fame inductions. “It’s really an award for them to see their work being paid off for me having success in the NFL.”
Cohen ran for 444 rushing yards and three touchdowns, 71 catches for 725 yards and five touchdowns, and was named to the 2019 Pro Bowl roster and first team all-pro as a return specialist. Leonard finished his rookie season with 163 combined tackles (111 solo), eight pass deflections, seven sacks and one interception. His 163 tackles led the NFL and broke the Colts’ franchise record. He was the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, first team all-pro and selected to play in the Pro Bowl.
Emerson Boozer was a force during his four-year career at the University of Maryland, Eastern Shore. Beginning in 1962, he was a dominant running back, which led him to being a two-time first team All-American. He has been inducted into the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Hall of Fame as well as the College Football Hall of Fame.
He began his pro career by being selected by the New York Jets in the sixth round of the 1966 American Football League (AFL) draft. He was also selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the seventh round of the NFL draft. He went to New York and played from 1966-1975.
During his 10-year career, he was a two-time AFL all-pro. In his second year of the league, he was All-AFL and led the league in rushing touchdowns. The following season, he was a member of the AFL and Super Bowl championship teams. As such, he is also a member of the New York Jets Ring of Honor.
Hugh Douglas was a defensive powerhouse at his home-state Central State University in Ohio. During his three-year collegiate career, he was a two-time NAIA Division I All-American. As a defensive end, he made 42 sacks in 32 games and led his team to an NAIA championship in 1992.
His pro career began with his selection by the New York Jets with the 16th overall pick in the 1995 NFL draft. He immediately dominated on the field and was chosen as the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. His playing career with the Jets lasted three seasons before he made the move to another team.
He took his talents to Philadelphia and played for the Eagles organization from 1998-2002. He played in Super Bowl XXXIX with the Eagles. Then, he went to the Jacksonville Jaguars for the 2003 season before returning to finish his career with Philadelphia in 2004. During his career, he was a three-time Pro Bowl selection and was two-time first team all-pro.
Douglas said being told he couldn’t play at the next level motivated him. “That’s the biggest motivator, I would have to say. That was it proving everyone wrong. Being one of the smaller guys, one of my greatest moments was playing in the Super Bowl. Even though we did not win the Super Bowl, just being on that stage, because there’s a lot of great players that didn’t play in the Super Bowl. That was probably the greatest moment I ever experienced.”
Rich “Tombstone” Jackson
Rich “Tombstone” Jackson was a double threat during his time at Southern University. The New Orleans native was exceptional in football and track during his four years at the university. In his freshman year of 1962, he won the NAIA shot put title, and he still holds the Louisiana collegiate record of 58 feet, 1 inch.
He was an undrafted free agent. However, in 1966 he began his pro career as a defensive end with the Oakland Raiders. Then, he spent 1967-1972 with the Denver Broncos. He finished his seven-year career in 1972 with the Cleveland Browns.
His pro accolades include being a three-time Pro Bowl selection and three-time first team all-pro. At the conclusion of his career with the Broncos, he was the all-time leader in sacks. He is an inaugural member of the Broncos’ Ring of Fame.
Jackson said though he played professionally, the chance to attend Southern was his life-altering experience.
“I used that as a key to get three degrees from college and that’s the thing that prepared me on throughout life because I’ve been able to come back after football,” said Jackson. “I quit football on a Friday, and I had a job in the school system I worked in for 33 years as a result of me concentrating on academics as opposed to putting athletics first.”
Frank Lewis had a decorated four-year career at Grambling State University from 1967-1970. He was a big contribution to the 1968 Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) title. Being a wide receiver, he led Grambling in 1969 in rushing and receiving yards. He scored 42 touchdowns in college and was a three-time All-SWAC receiver.
He began his professional career with the Pittsburgh Steelers after being the eighth pick overall in the first round of the 1971 NFL draft. He played with the Steelers from 1971-1977 and finished his career with the Buffalo Bills from 1978-1983.
During his 13-season career, he was inducted into the 1981 Pro Bowl. Also, he was a two-time Super Bowl champion with the Steelers.
Running back Timmy Newsome made his mark at Winston-Salem State University from 1976-1979. Under the leadership of head coach Bill Hayes, who is also in the Black College Football Hall of Fame, Newsome led the Rams to undefeated seasons in 1978 and 1979.
Newsome led the CIAA in rushing and scoring for three seasons. He was the three-time CIAA Offensive Player of the Year, and was the two-time Division II All-American.
He entered the NFL in 1980 after being selected by the Dallas Cowboys in the sixth round. He played his entire professional career with Dallas from 1980-1988. After his career, he was selected to be in the CIAA Hall of Fame and the Winston-Salem State Athletic Hall of Fame.
John Taylor was a groundbreaking player in the MEAC. He played as a wide receiver for Delaware State University, and scored 42 touchdowns during his time there, including 15 in his senior season, both MEAC records. He still holds the MEAC record for most career points (254).
After ending his collegiate career as MEAC Offensive Player of the Year in 1985, he entered the NFL in the 1986 draft, was selected by the San Francisco 49ers in the third round, and played for the team from 1987-1995.
He was a two-time Pro Bowl selection and was inducted into the Delaware State Hall of Fame. He was a member of three Super Bowl-winning teams with the 49ers, led by legendary Black College Hall of Fame member Jerry Rice. Taylor also was recognized as part of the 1980s All-Decade Team.
Arnett “Ace” Mumford
The late Arnett “Ace” Mumford was a well-decorated collegiate football coach. He began his coaching career at Jarvis Christian College from 1924-1926. He went to Bishop College from 1927-1929 and Texas College from 1931-1935. The next 25 years he spent at Southern University until his death in 1962.
His strong coaching led the Southern Jaguars football team to five black national championships. Also, he coached Southern to the 1941 black national championship in basketball. By the end of his career, he’d won or shared 11 SWAC championships. He finished with a record of 195-104-2.
He is the all-time winningest football coach at Southern University. In 2001, he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.