By Lenny Moon
The Black College Football Hall of Fame announced their Class of 2022 to be inducted on June 18th in Atlanta, Ga at the College Football Hall of Fame venue. The selections are Livingstone College tight end Ben Coates, Alcorn State wide receiver Donald Driver, Morris Brown’s running back John “Big Train” Moody and Florida A&M offensive lineman Nate Newton. Also Grambling’s wide receiver Sammy White, Morris Brown contributor Roscoe Nance and Morris Brown and Prairie View coaching legend William “Billy” Nicks earned their right to round out the 2022 class.
Ben Coates-TE-Livingstone College (1987-90) New England Pats (1991-99), Baltimore Ravens (2000)
Benjamin Terrence Coates Jr was selected in the fifth round of the 1991 NFL Draft by the New England Patriots. The 6-5, 245 tight end is a five-time Pro Bowl performer, a member of the 1990s All-Decade Team and inducted into the New England Patriots Hall of Fame in 2008. At the time of his retirement, Coates was fourth on the the all-time tight end receptions list with 499, trialing only Ozzie Newsome, Shannon Sharpe and Kellen Winslow. The Greenwood, SC native participated in both Super Bowl XXXI while a member of the Pats and Super Bowl XXXV with the Ravens. In 2018, he was inducted into the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) Hall of Fame.
Donald Driver-WR Alcorn State (1995-98) Green Bay Packers (1999-2012)
Born in Houston, Tx, Donald Jerome Driver was a multi-star athlete at Milby High School, lettering in football, track, basketball and baseball. His versatility on the gridiron merited him Texas Honorable Mention All-State while starring at wide receiver, secondary and special teams. After accepting a scholarship to Alcorn State, the speedster went on to letter on the gridiron and the cinder where he earned SWAC Athlete of the Year”. He posted a career 19.9 yards per catch average while on the “Reservation” (moniker for the Braves campus). Drafted in the 7th round of the 1999 NFL Draft by the Green Bay Packers, Driver would spend his entire 14-year pro career with Green Bay becoming the franchise’s all-time leader in career receptions (743) and career receiving yards (10,137). The five-time Pro Bowler was a member of the Packers Super Bowl XLV championship over the Steelers and is a bonafide Pro Football Hall of Fame candidate.
John “Big Train” Moody-RB-Morris Brown College
An All-American running back for Morris Brown College that predated World War II, John “Big Train” Moody set a Black College football record by accumulating 290 total points. He played a pivotal role in Morris Brown’s Black National Championship in 1940
Nate Newton-OL- Florida A&M University (1979-82) Washington (1983) Tampa Bay Bandits-USFL (1984-85) Dallas Cowboys (1986-98) Carolina Panthers (1999)
Nathaniel “Nate” Newton was a four-sport letterman at Jones High School in Orlando. Until his junior season, he actually played the fullback position until he literally outgrew the position and was moved to the defensive line. Nate elected to remain in his home state and selected Florida A&M where he played both offensive and defensive line positions his first two seasons. Eventually he settled as a fulltime offensive lineman his junior season, and earned All-Mideastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) his senior campaign. Newton played 17 years of pro football, with 13 of those with the Dallas Cowboys. The 6-3, 335 pound offensive lineman is a three-time Super Bowl champion (XXVII, XXVIII & XXX) and is a 6-time Pro Bowl performer.
Sammy White-WR-Grambling State (1972-75) Minnesota Vikings (1976-85)
Sammy White posted a prolific collegiate career at Grambling State, becoming a two-time All-Southwestern Conference (SWAC) wide receiver and selected in the 2nd round of the 1976 NFL Draft by the Minnesota Vikings. It didn’t take long before the Winnsboro, Louisiana native asserted himself on the next level, becoming a unanimous NFL Rookie of the Year performer along with a Pro Bowl appearance that same season. White would go on to earn three Pro Bowl appearances, snare 50 career TDs, named to Minnesota’s 25th Anniversary Team and earned the distinction as one of the “50 Greatest Vikings”. Sammy was former Vikings QB Fran Tarkenton’s go-to receiver in Super Bowl XI vs the Oakland Raiders.
Roscoe Nance- Tuskeegee Institute-Jackson Clarion Ledger-USA Today (Contributor)
A native of Enterprise, Alabama Roscoe Nance was a sports writer deluxe for well over 40 years having cut his teeth in the deep south in Columbus, Ga back in 1975 and later stints with the Jackson, Ms Clarion Ledger (1978-85) and the USA Today (1986-2007). It was during his term with the Clarion Ledger, where Nance became the first Black sportswriter and later wore the moniker as “Dean of Black College Sportswriters”. An example of Roscoe’s colorful writing style was his penchant for coining nicknames for legendary SWAC football coaches that stuck such as Mississippi Valley’s Archie “Gunslinger” Cooley and Alcorn’s Marino “Godfather” Casem. Known as ‘Sco to those who knew him well, Nance founded the SWAC Alumni Association as part of his rich HBCU sports legacy.
William “Billy” Nicks-Coach- Morris Brown -Prairie View A&M
A native of Griffin, Ga and an alum of Morris Brown College in the 20s, William James Nicks would return to his alma mater as a coach and compile an impressive 65-21-13 ledger. Included was a Black National Championship team in 1941. If one thought that his 75% success ratio was apparent due to home cooking, then he squash those notions once he arrived in Texas shortly following World War II. From 1945 through 1965 during two different stints on “The Hill” in Waller County, Coach Nicks would amass a sparkling 127-39-8 record, including five Black National Football Championships, seven SWAC Football Championships and earned the NAIA Coach of the Year in 1963. His career record stands as 192-60-21. Prairie View’s basketball arena, as well as other current athletic complex structures are named on behalf of Coach Billy Nicks.
“HBCU LEGACY BOWL 2022”- Black College Football Hall of Fame
The inaugural “HBCU Legacy Bowl”, hosted by the Black College Football Hall of Fame will transpire on February 18, 2022 at Yulman Stadium on the campus of Tulane University in New Orleans, La starting at 3:00 pm…”We thought the creation of the Legacy Bowl would showcase the HBCU (Historically Black College & University) draft eligible football players to get an additional look, compete against each other, and have an outlet to display their skills before NFL scouts” stated James “Shack” Harris (Co-Founder and Trustee of the Black College Football Hall of Fame). Harris went on to say “Ultimately, the goal is to increase the HBCU football player the opportunity to get drafted into the National Football League”. The game will be broadcast live on the NFL Network. Steve Wyche will provide the play-by-play, Charles Davis (Game Analyst) and Bucky Brooks (Sideline). Ticket information can be retrieved online by visiting tulanegreenwave.evenue.net or 504-861-9283.
The teams will be structured with the East vs West model indicated below:
(West) SWAC and SIAC deemed as the “Eddie Robinson Team”
Coaches: Willie Simmons (FAMU) Offense
Gabe Giardina (Albany State) Defense
(East) MEAC and CIAA deemed as the “Jake Gaither Team”
Coaches: Buddy Pough (SC State) Defense
Damon Wilson (Bowie State) Offense
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