The influence these HBCU players, coaches and teams had forever shaped football.
HBCU football has had a remarkable influence not just on college football, but on the professional game as well. Before predominately white colleges allowed black students to enroll and play sports, the NFL, NBA and MLB found their talent amongst the HBCU ranks.
Jackson State and Mississippi Valley State produced who many consider the two best football players in the sport’s history, Walter Payton and Jerry Rice, respectively. Both players have FCS awards named after them as well.
It is not only the players who have influenced the game; HBCU football has had its fair share of legendary, influential coaches. Like Alonzo Smith “Jake” Gaither who coached the Florida A&M Rattlers for 25 years. Gaither introduced the “Split T” offense in 1963 and many other colleges copied it.
Gaither also had many prominent white coaches teach at his clinics. Darrell Royal, Paul “Bear” Bryant, and Adolph Rupp are the coaches who would staff his clinics. He also coached the Rattlers in the south’s first game between an HBCU school and a white school when they played Tampa in 1969.
Here is another coach, player and team who left a lasting impression on the game.
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