Grambling Legends


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ALPHONSE DOTSON: Dotson was Grambling's first All-America first team, earning the honor from the Consensus All American-Newspaper Enterprise Association. He was a first-team All-SWAC tackle in 1964, and honorable mention in 1963, before becoming a second-round pick by the Green Bay Packers. He also played for the Chiefs, Dolphins and Raiders in a career that spanned 1965-70.

LACHANDRA LEDAY FENCEROY: Leday Fenceroy, who played for previous Grambling Legends Sports Hall of Fame inductee Patricia Cage-Bibbs from 1984-88, topped Division I for women's scoring with a 30.4 average as a senior at GSU. She was also recognized by the Sports Information Directors as an All-American in 1985-86, the year before Leday Fenceroy helped Grambling to its first-ever women’s Southwestern Athletic Conference basketball championship.

WILBERT ELLIS: A prime force behind the opening of the Eddie G. Robinson Museum on campus, Ellis served for 43 seasons as an assistant and then head baseball coach at Grambling before retiring in 2003. He also served a lengthy stint as an athletic administrator at GSU. In 2006, Ellis was inducted into the American Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame -- an honor recognizing 737 victories at Grambling. Ellis had also served for 17 seasons as an assistant to inaugural Grambling Legends inductee Ralph Waldo Emerson Jones.

AARON JAMES: Twice named All-America, James was a three-time all-SWAC selection and earned freshman of the year honors from the league in 1971. He would lead the NCAA in scoring during the 1973-74 season with an astounding 32.1 points per game. In all, James scored 2,251 career points for the Tigers before becoming a first-round draft pick for his hometown team, the NBA's New Orleans Jazz in 1974.

ESSEX JOHNSON: Johnson, a wingback at Grambling, played eight pro seasons as a running back for the Bengals and Buccaneers. Drafted in the sixth round by Cincinnati in 1968, after Grambling claimed one of its four consecutive SWAC football championships in the late 1960s, Johnson left in 1975 as the Bengals' career rushing leader. He played another season for the expansion Tampa Bay in 1976, finishing as the club’s third-leading rusher.

TRUMAINE JOHNSON: Johnson was the 1980 and '82 SWAC offensive player of the year, when he had 1,000 yards while averaging 14 yards a catch. Johnson was also first-team All-SWAC in 1981. Grambling won the conference championship in 1980, as Johnson grabbed a school record 16 touchdown receptions. He also earned first-team all SWAC honors in 1981. Drafted in the sixth round by San Diego, Johnson would play four years of pro football with the Chargers and Bills.

ALBERT LEWIS: Before embarking on a legendary 225-game pro football career, Lewis was first-team All-SWAC at cornerback for Grambling in 1981-82, leading the team in interceptions in '81 with seven. A member of the 50th anniversary All-Time Senior Bowl Team, Lewis recorded a staggering 42 interceptions while playing for the NFL's Chiefs and Raiders. He was selected to the Pro Bowl over four consecutive seasons beginning in 1987.

BERTRAM LOVELL: A Grambling graduate, Coach Lovell just led the Grambling State men's track team to its sixth title in the last seven years, claiming both the 2011 Southwestern Athletic Conference outdoor and indoor championships. He came into the season having already collected a staggering 29 titles at Grambling, and now has been named SWAC track coach of the year nearly 30 times, an amazing feat.

CLYDE PARQUET: Parquet ranked first in the country with a 0.66 ERA in 1961, as Grambling began a series of four runs to the national NAIA baseball tournament through 1967. The right hander fanned 98 batters in 55 innings in ’61, while hurling three no hitters. Parquet averaged 16 strikeouts per game that year as Grambling, under the leadership of inaugural Grambling Legends inductee R.W.E. Jones, won the SWAC title. Parquet was then signed by the Detroit Tigers.

PRESTON POWELL: Powell, a 1961 draft pick by the Cleveland Browns, helped Grambling to its first-ever SWAC football championship in 1960 as a fullback under inaugural Grambling Legends inductee Eddie G. Robinson. Powell led the Tigers in scoring in 1958 and in total rushing yards in 1959 – when he averaged 6 yards a carry. Powell was also a first-team All-SWAC honoree in 1960.

JAKE REED: Reed was a first-team All-SWAC honoree in 1990, and second team in 1989, leading all Grambling receivers as a senior with 954 yards and a 20-yard average per catch. He was invited to the Senior Bowl in 1990, one of just 17 from Grambling to receive that honor, then played 12 seasons in the NFL with the Vikings and Saints -- helping New Orleans to its first-ever playoff win. He had four 1,000-yard pro seasons.

HOWARD WILLIS: Willis was the 76th overall pick by the New York Knicks in the 1960 NBA Draft, after helping Grambling to a pair of SWAC titles beginning in 1958 under inaugural Grambling Legends inductee Fredrick C. Hobdy. He was named all-conference in ’58, after averaging 11 points and 15 rebounds per game. Willis went on to become a high school coach and administrator in Louisiana from 1963-70, and is now a respected longtime professor at Grambling.


See video reports on the Legends!

KTVE-REGION 10 in Monroe, La.: Video focusing on Aaron James, who was inducted into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame period to being honored by the Grambling Legends.


Albert Lewis, Aaron James in latest Grambling Legends Sports Hall of Fame class

MORE HERE: The (Monroe, La.) News-Star

The (Alexandria, La.) Town Talk

The Southwestern Athletic Conference

The Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame


12 named to 2012 Grambling Legends Sports Hall of Fame class



Former Chiefs defensive back Albert Lewis honored



Aaron James was right at home as Grambling Legend


The (Monroe, La.) News-Star


Jake Reed credits Grambling for success in football, life

MORE HERE: The (Monroe, La.) News-Star


Grambling coach Bertram Lovell earns Legend status

MORE HERE: The (Monroe, Louisiana) News-Star



FRANK GARNETT (baseball) – A New Orleans native, Garnett was a three-sport letterman and a state champion in both baseball and basketball at St. Augustine High. He then served as a team captain on the 1962-63 Grambling baseball teams, as the Tigers advanced to the national NAIA baseball tournament for the third of what would be four times between 1961-67. He was named all-conference in each of his four years on campus – once at first base, twice at third base and once a shortstop – and earned first-team All-America honors in 1963. Garnett, later a longtime Los Angeles area educator, then signed a baseball contract with the Washington Senators, and played seven seasons of minor league baseball.

JAMES “SHACK” HARRIS (football) – A senior personnel executive for the NFL’s Detroit Lions, the Monroe, Louisiana, native led Grambling to SWAC championships in each of his four years as quarterback and was named MVP of the 1967 Orange Blossom Classic. Drafted by the AFL’s Buffalo Bills, he would become the first black player to start a season at quarterback, the first to start a conference championship game and the first to be named MVP of the Pro Bowl over the course of a career that also included stops with the Rams and Chargers.

TARCHA HOLLIS (women’s basketball) – A standout at Grambling from 1988-91, the Mobile, Alabama, native scored a total of 2,058 points. She boasted a career shot percentage of 58 percent, and a free-throw average of 64 percent. That included scoring in double figures 75 times in 85 games played. The Lady Tigers, under fellow Grambling Legends Sports Hall of Fame coach Pat Bibbs, claimed the SWAC regular-season and tournament titles in 1988-89. Hollis also notched double figures in rebounds in 69 career games, and had 140 blocked shots and 142 steals.

DELLES HOWELL (football) – Famously started at Grambling as a freshman cornerback, then in the NFL as a rookie. The Monroe, Louisiana, native starred on a trio of Southwestern Athletic Conference title teams for fellow Grambling Legends Sports Hall of Fame coach Eddie Robinson, then for the New Orleans Saints and New York Jets in a six-season NFL career – collecting 17 career interceptions. He has found a second calling in the ministry, serving as pastor of New Light Baptist Church in northeastern Louisiana.

JAMES “HOUND” HUNTER (football) – Drafted 10th overall out of Grambling, where the two-time All-SWAC corner claimed a league championship in 1974, Hunter led the NFL’s Detroit Lions in interceptions in 1976-77 and in 1980, eventually logging 27 career picks. Hunter was runner-up for NFL defensive rookie of the year before a neck injury in the early 1980s shortened a promising pro career. He died of an apparent heart attack in 2010; Hunter was just 56.

GARY “BIG HANDS” JOHNSON (football) – A three-time All-SWAC defensive tackle, the Shreveport, Louisiana, native helped Grambling to a trio of conference titles before becoming the first pick of the 1975 draft for San Diego, playing for the Chargers until a 1984 trade to San Francisco – where he won a Super Bowl. Johnson made the Pro Bowl in each of the 1980-83 campaigns, setting a 17 ½-sack season record for San Diego that still stands. Johnson died in August 2010 at age 57, having never recovered from a stroke he suffered the previous July.

JAMES JONES (basketball) – Averaged 20 points and 8 rebounds a night over 104 career games, as fellow Grambling Legends Sports Hall of Fame coach Fred Hobdy led the Tigers to three SWAC championships, then was selected 13th overall by the Baltimore Bullets in the 1967 NBA Draft. He finished as one of the old ABA’s all-time leaders in every category, becoming just the second in league history to score more than 2,000 points in one season. Jones played seven years in the ABA and then three with the NBA’s Washington Bullets.

FRANK LEWIS (football) – Part of the Pittsburgh Steelers first two Super Bowl-winning squads, Lewis helped Grambling to a SWAC crown and then led the league in scoring over his final two seasons. A two-time all-conference wingback, he finished with 42 career touchdowns at Grambling, then had nearly 400 receptions and 40 touchdowns in the NFL. Later an all-pro with the Buffalo Bills, Lewis was the first player in league history to gain 100 yards in receiving in postseason games for two different clubs. He is employed in workforce development in south Louisiana.

ALEX PERO (baseball) – In 1962-63, Pero had a staggering 0.00 ERA to help Grambling to the national NAIA baseball tournament. Grambling led the nation in ERA that season, and the team would earn NAIA berths four times between 1961-67 under fellow Grambling Legends Sports Hall of Fame coach R.W.E. Jones. In 1965, Pero set a Division II mark for strikeouts per nine innings amongst 50-game starters that to this day remains second all time. He played for three seasons in the minor leagues. Pero passed in 2009 at age 65.

EVERSON WALLS (football) – An all-conference selection for the SWAC champion Tigers, Walls led the nation in interceptions in 1980 – setting a school record that still stands. He then played 14 NFL seasons with the Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants and Cleveland Browns, leading the league in picks in both 1982 and 1985, earning All-Pro honors three times and a Super Bowl after the 1990 season with the Giants. The Texas native works as a businessman in Dallas.

ROBERT WOODS (track and field; football) – A two-sport star, Woods left Grambling in 1978 with a SWAC championship and all-conference honors as an undersized but unstoppable wingback for fellow Grambling Legends Sports Hall of Fame coach Eddie Robinson. He was the Bayou Classic MVP of 1977, then was drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs in ’78. Woods played two seasons in the NFL. Now executive director of a residential treatment center for adolescents in Houston, Texas, he has worked in the mental health field for more than 20 years.

LARRY WRIGHT (basketball) – Wright, of Richwood, Louisiana, helped Grambling to the 1976 league tournament championship and then led the Washington Bullets to an NBA title in 1978. A former head basketball coach for the Tigers, Wright was a two-time all-conference selection, a two time NCAA small college All-American and the SWAC player of the year in 1975-76. Later, Wright was a celebrated player overseas, earning MVP honors as Roma claimed its first-ever European title. He currently serves as an associate high school principal in northeastern Louisiana.

AL DENNIS JR. (pre-1960 honoree) – A New Orleans native and World War II veteran, the late Dennis was one of Grambling’s most celebrated early football captains. Playing from 1946-49, he was a two-time All-America blocker for future College Hall of Famer Paul “Tank” Younger. In 1968, he would become the first African-American to receive a master’s degree in health and physical education from Northwestern State University in Louisiana. He coached and taught for more than 45 years, notably at Brown High in Springhill, Louisiana.

DOUGLAS PORTER (contributor) – A former assistant at Grambling under Eddie Robinson, Porter was a head coach at FCS programs Mississippi Valley State (1961-65) and Howard (1974-78) and finally at Division II Fort Valley State (1979-94), earning induction into the College Football Hall of Fame. He has remained a trusted advisor for every coach to have succeeded Robinson, and was instrumental in the efforts to construct a museum in Robinson’s honor on the Grambling campus.


See video reports on the Legends!

NBC 10/FOX 14, in Monroe, La.: Grambling Inducts "Legends" Class of 2011.

KTBS ABC-3 in Shreveport, La.: Grambling Enshrines Hall of Fame Class of 2011.

KTBS ABC-3, in Shreveport, La.: James "Shack" Harris highlights third Grambling Legends Sports Hall of Fame class.

NBC 10/FOX 14, in Monroe, La.: Feature on the 2011 class of the Grambling Legends Sports Hall of Fame.

KTAL NBC-6, in Shreveport, La.: Report on the 2011 class, with bios of inductees.


 Grambling Legends event turns into homecoming

MORE HERE: The (Monroe, La.) News-Star.


Newest Grambling Legends humbled, awed by honor

MORE HERE: The (Ruston, La.) Daily Leader.


Lions executive James (Shack) Harris to enter Grambling Sports Hall of Fame

MORE HERE: The Detroit Free Press.

ALSO: The (Monroe, La.) News-Star.

The Bellingham (Wash.) Herald

The Lafayette, La. Daily Advertiser.

The (Alexandria, La.) Town Talk.


Former Richwood, NBA star Larry Wright to join GSU's all-time greats

MORE HERE: The (Monroe, La.) News-Star.

ALSO: The (Lafayette, La.) Daily Advertiser.



Wall's belief pays off with Grambling Legends honor

MORE HERE: The (Monroe, La.) News-Star.


Former Charger Gary (Big Hands) Johnson joins Grambling Legends


NFL great Frank Lewis to join Grambling Legends Hall

MORE HERE: The (Monroe, La.) News-Star.

ALSO: The (Thibodaux, La.) Daily Comet

The (Alexandria, La.) Town Talk.



James 'Hound' Hunter recognized by Legends

MORE HERE: The (Monroe, La.) News-Star.


Key advisor, former assistant Douglas Porter honored

Grambling Legends make major donation to Eddie G. Robinson Museum

By, Aug. 25, 2010 

The Grambling Legends will make a donation of $10,000 to the newly opened Eddie G. Robinson Museum, honoring a coach, mentor and man who deeply influenced the group — and the nation.

“We are very proud of the museum, to have something that represents coach in such a positive manner,” said Legends co-founder James “Shack” Harris, who helped Grambling to four straight league championships under Robinson in the late 1960s.

Robinson Museum board chairman John Belton said a news conference with the Grambling Legends is set for 2 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 26, 2010, at the facility, housed in the former women’s basketball gymnasium on Grambling’s campus.

“They never forgot what this man meant to them, and they want others to see that. This will be one of the centerpiece donations,” said Wilbert Ellis, chief local fundraiser for the museum.

The Legends group most recently held a gala Friday reception for the 2010 class of its Sports Hall of Fame at the Robinson Museum, bringing together a number of former players and co-workers who hadn’t yet visited the newly opened exhibit space.

“Their involvement is tribute to a man who meant so much to so many,” said Ellis, who crafted his own American Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame career at Grambling. “I’m just thrilled to death about it. They still want the best for a man who deserved the best.”

A 1997 inductee into the College Football Hall of Fame, Robinson coached at Grambling from 1941-97 — along the way, passing college football legend Paul “Bear” Bryant for career victories with 408. Plans to build a museum in Robinson’s honor, however, had endured a series of setbacks before his death in 2007 at age 88. Within months, the University of Louisiana System agreed to house the museum on the Grambling campus, and the state Legislature approved funding.

“He led a life so extraordinary that it was worthy of a museum,” said Richard Lapchick, director of UCF’s Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport and co-author of Robinson’s appropriately named autobiography, “Never Before, Never Again.”

“His achievements were unparalleled. When he retired,” Lapchick said, “he had more wins than any coach in the history of Division I football, had sent more of his players to the NFL than any other coach, had a team graduation rate of nearly 80 percent in a sport in which it hovered around 50 percent nationally, and never had a player get in trouble with the law until his last and 57th year as head coach of Grambling.”

The Eddie G. Robinson museum opened in February of this year, on what would have been Robinson’s 91st birthday.

“We want to be part of contributing to something that honors someone who was so important to us,” Harris said. “We think that it means a lot to the tradition. It’s a great tribute to Eddie Robinson, and done in a first-class way. That enhances Grambling, and shows future generations how he touched the lives of so many people.”


JERRY BARR (basketball): Part of a 1958-59 squad that won 28 games in a row before falling to Lenoir Rhyne in the NAIA finals at Kansas City, Barr ultimately netted 1,656 career points. He was All-Midwest Conference honors during Grambling’s final season before joining the Southwestern Athletic Conference, then was NAIA All-America in 1958. Inducted into Grambling State University’s Gallery of Distinction in 1988.

GARLAND BOYETTE (football): Helped Grambling to its first-ever SWAC football championship in 1960, then earned first-team All-SWAC honors in 1961, as well as Little All-America honors as the Tigers won 17 games over his junior and senior seasons. An American Football League All-Star in 1968-69, Boyette played for the Houston Oilers from 1966-72, as well as NFL’s St. Louis Cardinals (1962-63), the Canadian Football League’s Montreal Alouettes (1964-65) and in the World Football League’s Houston Texans and Shreveport Steamer (1974-75). A versatile athlete, Boyette played guard, defensive end, outside linebacker, and middle linebacker. He even tried out for the 1960 Olympic U.S. decathlon team, but barely missed qualifying.

PATRICIA CAGE-BIBBS (women's basketball): Coached the women’s basketball team to six championships over a 13-year tenure at Grambling – including three over a four-year span that included the first-ever undefeated season in SWAC conference play. She has added six more league titles during subsequent stops at Hampton and North Carolina A&T. Bibbs just completed a record-breaking year with A&T, where she led the Lady Aggies to the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference’s regular-season title with a 14-2 mark, then became the first HBCU (historically black college or university) to make it to the Sweet 16 of a Division I postseason event – advancing to the third round of the Women’s National Invitational Tournament. A SWAC Hall of Famer, Bibbs was inducted into Grambling State University’s Gallery of Distinction in 2008.

ADOLPH BYRD (football): Served as a tackle on Grambling’s 1940s teams before becoming one of the football program’s most important talent scouts in south Louisiana. Amongst the players he directed to GSU were Leroy Carter, Henry Davis, Henry Dyer and both Doug and Mike Williams. A football, track and basketball coach between 1950-66 at Baton Rouge’s McKinley High, Byrd was inducted into Grambling State University’s Gallery of Distinction in 1984.

MARY CURRIE (women's basketball): Finished her career at Grambling with 2,256 points and 905 rebounds over the 1983-87 seasons, averaging 20.7 points and 8.3 rebounds. A prolific shooter, Currie once scored 52 points in a single game for Grambling. She would become the first female player to score more than 2,000 points in a career at GSU, averaging 51.9 percent from the field and 74.8 percent from the free-throw line. Named All-America by Black College Sports Information Directors Association in 1986, she died at age 34 in 2000 after a bout with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

MACKIE FREEZE (football): A two-sport star who played football and, as a standout pitcher, helped Grambling win 120 of 137 baseball games over his final three college seasons. He signed a 1950 contract with the Brooklyn Dodgers before coaching at Richwood from 1954-67. There, he earned victory in 116 of 139 football games – including a run of 66 in a row – on the way to four consecutive state titles. Freeze sent guided scores of youth to Grambling, and had 11 players who were drafted or signed to pro football contracts.

EUGENE “DOC” HARVEY (contributor): A trainer for the Dodgers over four seasons in both Brooklyn and Los Angeles, Harvey subsequently served as Grambling’s trainer and physical therapist for 32 seasons, joining the staff in 1959. He then worked part time as a coordinator of sports medicine until last season, and continues to operate a private clinic. Harvey was inducted into the National Athletic Trainers Association’s Hall of Fame in 1986, and was the first African-American to be named to the Louisiana Trainers Hall of Fame, in 1982. He received NATA’s 50-Year Award in 2005.

JAMES HOOPER (basketball): Averaged 25 points per game in 1957, as Grambling entered the SWAC, and was named NAIA All-American 1958, then led the Tigers to an undefeated season in 1959 while averaging 29 points per game. “James Hooper Day” was proclaimed later that summer by then-Mayor W.P. Seiver, of Tallulah, LA, Hooper’s hometown. Inducted into the Grambling State University’s Gallery of Distinction in 1989, and named a starter on the Tigers’ all-time team in January 2010 by The Bleacher Report.

JOSEPH B. JOHNSON (basketball/school president): A former basketball player, Johnson served as president at Grambling from 1978, when he succeeded Ralph W.E. Jones, until 1991. He earned the Thurgood Marshall Educational Achievement Award and Ebony’s American Black Achievement Award during a career that also included stops as an assistant to the president at the University of Colorado (1969-77) and Talladega College (1991-98). Johnson has been inducted into the National Black College Alumni Hall of Fame and, in 1986, Grambling State University’s Gallery of Distinction.

MELVIN LEE (football): A quarterback of the offensive line at center and team captain on Grambling’s undefeated 1955 black college championship squad, Lee ultimately had an astonishing impact on future generations of young men as a 37-year offensive assistant coach to Eddie Robinson. Credited with perfecting the program’s fabled Wing-T offense that would contribute to a record-breaking 408 career wins for Robinson at Grambling.

JERRY ROBINSON (football): Nicknamed “Ghost,” Robinson was a two-time first-team all-conference halfback beginning in 1960 as Grambling won its first-ever SWAC title. He led all Grambling rushers over through 1962, gaining 1,300 yards. Robinson played in the Senior All-American Bowl, then joined the AFL’s San Diego Chargers where he claimed three championships on a team that included fellow Grambling Legends Hall of Famer Ernie “Big Cat” Ladd. Robinson held the school record for career touchdowns until Frank Lewis set a new mark in the early 1970s.

ROOSEVELT TAYLOR (football): Part of Grambling’s staggeringly talented SWAC championship defense in 1960 – the group boasted four future All-Pros – Taylor went on to lead the NFL with nine interceptions in 1963, on the way to 32 career picks. In 1968, he scored 6 TDs, including 96-yard interception return. Twice selected to the Pro Bowl, Taylor never missed a game in nearly nine seasons with the Chicago Bears and later appeared in Super Bowl VII with the Washington Redskins. He is a member of the Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame, and was named among The 50 Best Bears earlier this year by the Chicago Sun-Times.

SAMMY WHITE (football): A former three-time SWAC champion receiver and 11-year assistant football coach at Grambling, White won both football and basketball state titles in high school before twice being named all-conference (1973, ’75) as a wingback at Grambling. After college, White went on to become an integral part of a Minnesota team that reached the Super Bowl after the 1976 season, the 1977 NFC championship and then the divisional playoff round both a year later and in 1982. White was named All-Pro three times. He is also a member of the Louisiana Sports and SWAC halls of fame.

DOUG WILLIAMS (football): After winning two SWAC titles at Grambling from 1974-77, the Heisman Trophy finalist became a groundbreaker in the NFL as the first African-American quarterback to start in a Super Bowl. He’s still the only one to win the game, as Washington topped Denver after a record-smashing second-quarter performance by Williams, and still the only one to be named Super Bowl MVP. Previously, Williams led the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to the NFL Championship Game, then later succeeded Eddie Robinson as coach at Grambling – winning a trio of league titles in 2000-02. He has been inducted into the Louisiana Sports and SWAC halls of fame and, in the 1985, to Grambling State University’s Gallery of Distinction.

ROBERT WILLIAMS (baseball): A standout pitcher as Grambling completed a run of four straight SWAC titles in 1960-64. Needing three wins for the 1963 crown and facing rival Southern in the final series, Williams started Games 1 and 3, and was the closer in Game 2 – and the junior won them all. The Tigers were also national runners up in the 1963-64 NAIA championship tournaments. Williams shone as a reliever in the ’63 tournament, and was approached about a contract by Gene Autry, then owner of the Los Angeles Angels. He ultimately signed with the Cleveland Indians, but his pro career was cut short by a rotator cuff injury in 1968. Elder brother of 2010 Legends inductee Doug Williams, who has always called Robert Williams his greatest inspiration.


See video reports on the Legends!

THEDERISOREPORT.COM: Grambling Legends 2010 Sports Hall of Fame reception


Grambling Legends had a different focus for second class of inductees



Roosevelt Taylor's consistency earned him Legend status at Grambling

Sammy White enjoys legendary career at GSU

The (Shreveport, LA) Times, June 23, 2010



FOOTBALL: Willie Brown, Buck Buchanan, Willie Davis, Henry Dyer, Lane Howell, Charlie Joiner, Willie Joseph, Ernie Ladd, Legolian "Boots" Moore, Bo Murray, Willie Young, Tank Younger.

BUCHANAN, who Grambling coaching legend Eddie Robinson called "the finest lineman I have seen," became the first African-American to be selected No. 1 overall in a pro football draft -- going to Kansas City in 1963. He had been a letterman and NAIA All-America defender at Grambling, helping the program to its first-ever Southwestern Athletic Conference title in 1960. He played in two Super Bowls, winning one. Two years after his 1990 induction to the Pro Hall of Fame, Buchanan died from lung cancer at the age of 51.  Posthumous College Football Hall of Fame honors followed in 1996.

DYER, Grambling’s leading runner in both 1963 and the SWAC title season of ’65, was the school’s first documented 1,000-yard rusher. He was named first-team All-SWAC at fullback from ’63-65, and scored 30 times in his final two years. His NFL career lasted from 1966-72, and included stops with the Rams, Redskins, Bengals and Cardinals.

HOWELL, a two-way lineman for Eddie Robinson, was the first of three brothers to star for Grambling, beginning in 1960. GSU also won its first SWAC title with Lane up front, establishing a 23-5-2 mark between 1960-62. He played pro ball with the Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants between 1963-71.

JOSEPH'S nickname name -- "Automatic" -- says it all: Over the 1947-49 seasons, he established a 48-point school record for career points by a kicker that still stands. Grambling wouldn’t lose more than three games in a season over that span.

MOORE helped Grambling to its seminal 21-6 win over Southern University in 1947, a first-time-ever moment that Robinson always said put the program on the map. Later toured with the Harlem Globetrotters.

MURRAY, then a redshirt sophomore, was a critical piece of Grambling’s 1955 undefeated team, helping the Tigers won the Orange Blossom Classic on scoring runs of 75 and 8 yards. He also kicked the extra point on his winning TD, beating Florida A&M 28-21.

YOUNG was a two-time All-Southwestern Athletic Conference first-team offensive guard in 1964-65, as Grambling won its second SWAC title. He played 11 seasons, from 1966-76, for the New York Giants.

YOUNGER, despite playing from 1945-48, still holds GSU record for career points with 369. His 86-yard blast against Morgan State in 1946 also remains the school’s longest non-scoring run. In all, Younger scored 60 touchdowns — at the time a collegiate record, and still tops at Grambling — during his storied career under Robinson. Named black college player of the year in 1949, he was the first Grambling player inducted into the SWAC Hall of Fame, in 1973. Induction into the GSU hall followed in 1982. Significantly, Younger went on to become one of the highest-ranking early black pro executives ever. He entered the College Football Hall of Fame in 2000, but died just days after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

BASEBALL: Tommy Agee, Ralph Garr.

AGEE hit .389 in 1962 at Grambling, including 38 RBI, before signing a major-league contract -- where his pro career lasted until 1973, including a stint at centerfield for the legendary 1969 champion New York Mets. Played in 1,129 pro games, where he stole 167 bases, hit 130 homers and 27 triples, added 433 RBI and boasted a career average of .255. Credited by Coach Wilbert Ellis with one of the longest home runs ever at the old Grambling baseball field.

GARR hit .582 as an outfielder for the 1967 Grambling team that won 33 of 34 games, losing only to Sam Houston State in the NAIA playoffs. GSU had only lost 10 total games over Garr's previous three seasons on the squad, as he built a career collegiate batting average of .421. Garr then had a celebrated pro career, leading the National League in hitting in 1974, while batting .353 for Atlanta. He only hit lower than .299 once between 1971-77 in the big leagues.

BASKETBALL: Charlie Hardnett, Robert Hopkins, Willis Reed, Helen Richards-Smith, Hershell West.

HARDNETT, a legendary power forward, averaged 17 rebounds a game over one legendary season on campus. He was the leading scorer on the Grambling squad that went 32-4 and won the NAIA national title in 1961 under Fred Hobdy. Later, scored nearly 2,000 points over 165 NBA games.

HOPKINS is already in the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame, with his uniform on display at the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. He played three sports at Jonesboro High School (later Jackson High School), averaging over 30 points a game in basketball, and the team never lost a home game during his four years. Hopkins scored 3,759 points in 138 basketball games at Grambling State University for a 29.1 average, the national record for 47 years. He played four seasons with the NBA's old Syracuse Nationals, and coached at six colleges and with the NBA's Seattle franchise.

WEST helped Grambling to an NAIA national title in 1961, still the only men’s basketball championship ever won in Louisiana. Later mentored Larry Wright, a future NBA champion. “The best pure shooting guard we’ve ever had,” the late coaching legend Fred Hobdy once said of West.

TRACK: Stone Johnson, Richard Stebbins.

JOHNSON, so fast he won the 1960 NAIA national 200-meter title, was a wingback and punter (averaging 36 yards per kick) on Grambling’s first SWAC title team. He also competed as a sprinter in the Olympics, before suffering a neck fracture during an NFL preseason game. He died 10 days later.

STEBBINS, a running back speedster who excelled in track events,  competed with “Bullet” Bob Hayes in U.S. Olympic events in the 1960s.

COACHES AND ADMINISTRATORS: Fredrick C. Hobdy, Ralph W.E. Jones, Collie J. Nicholson, Eddie G. Robinson.


See video reports on the Legends!

THEDERISOREPORT.COM: Grambling Legends inaugural Sports Hall of Fame ceremony.

KNOE TV 8, in Monroe, La.: Feature on inaugural Grambling Legends Sports Hall of Fame inductee Eddie G. Robinson's stirring victory over Alcorn State and Heisman candidate Steve McNair at Robinson Stadium in 1994.




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