Onnidan's Black College Sports Online


The History of Black College Players in Pro Football Drafts - 1959-1970
Part Two of Five

 March 10, 1998

By Hal Lamar
©1998

In 1959, only 10 players from HBCU schools were picked up by NFL squads. Chicago picked up two running backs, namely Jackson State's Willie Neal and North Carolina Central's Cliff Jackson, chosen in the 17th and 30th rounds respectively. Cleveland chose Grambling back James Caleb 16th. Detroit grabbed two, tackle George McGhee from Southern (16) and tackle Rufus Granderson (19) from Prairie View. Green Bay went south to Florida A&M to pick up center Willie Taylor. As a 6th round pick, he was the highest draftee from an HBCU in 1959. The Rams chose end Bill Conner from Jackson State (8). The Giants tagged Morgan State tackle Dolphus Williams as their 28th selection. San Francisco used their 22nd pick to bring North Carolina A&T end Burrio McQueen into the fold.

In 1960, a new league emerged to challenge the dominance of the NFL. Millionaires Lamar Hunt and Al Davis created the American Football League. This was not the first time that a rival group had challenged the NFL. The All-American Football Conference was established in the late 40s and survived through 1951 when a deal was struck to merge several of their teams and bring many into the NFL.

How long this fledgling league would survive was anybody's guess in 1960 when they held their first draft. Their member teams included the Boston Patriots, the Buffalo Bills, Dallas Texans (now the Kansas City Chiefs), Houston (now Nashville) Oilers, the LA (now San Diego) Chargers, the New York Titans (now Jets) and the Oakland Raiders. The league also started with a franchise in Minneapolis but they withdrew following the draft when the NFL awarded the city an expansion franchise.

The new league created new opportunities for HBCU players . Some ended up drafted by both leagues. Charley Bivins, a super running back at Atlanta's Morris Brown College was picked up the 2nd round by Buffalo and 7th by the Chicago Bears. Bivins chose Chicago. Texas Southern tackle James Sorey was picked up in the 14tn round by the Bears and was also by Buffalo. The Bills also selected North Carolina A&T guard Tom Day as did the Chicago Cardinals, who picked him 20th. The Cardinals also chose Prairie View tackle Jim " Earthquake" Hunt 16th while the Bears chose Prairie View end John " Bo" Farrington 16th.

In 1960, Baltimore picked North Carolina Central end Ernie Barnes while Green Bay tagged North Carolina Central running back Paul Winslow 13th. Winslow was also selected by the AFL's Dallas Texans. In 1960, the New York Giants chose Southern fullback Jeff Varnado (13) and San Francisco chose South Carolina State tackle Carl Robinson (18).

That year, the AFL's Houston Oilers drafted tackle-guard Jim Glasgow from Jackson State. Minneapolis' fourth pick was Texas Southern offensive lineman Cloyd Bayette (he represents the first player from an HCBU selected by what later became the Minnesota Vikings) and the New York Titans picked up Maryland-Eastern Shore offensive lineman Roger Brown.

In the 1961 draft, eight HBCU players were drafted in the NFL. Chicago made Grambling tackle Ernie Ladd their 4th pick That year, the LA Chargers picked him 18th. He signed with LA (now San Diego). Ladd, now retired, was the highest HBCU pick in the NFL in 1961. The Bears also selected end Rossie Barfield from North Carolina Central (17). Cleveland picked Grambling back Preston Powell 7th. (he was also chosen 20th by the Oakland Raiders), Green Bay made back Lewis Johnson of FAMU their 7th pick and the Giants picked up FAMU back Eugene White 14th (He was also the 33rd pick of the Oakland Raiders in 1962). Pittsburgh's 8th pick that year was Tennessee State tackle George Bainazar while the Cardinals (who moved to St Louis in 1961) picked up another Rattler, tackle Jake Bradley (16).

In 1961, the AFL 's Boston Patriots drafted FAMUs Clarence Childs (20) and Southern's Charles Granger (26). Buffalo's 26th pick was North Carolina A&T tackle Lorenzo Stanford. Denver's 19th pick was guard John Hobbs from Maryland-Eastern Shore, Houston 's 20th pick was FAMU back Lewis Johnson, the LA Chargers picked Virginia Union fullback Hezekiah Brandon (12) in addition to Ladd.

In 1962, 10 HBCU players were selected in the NFL, including tackle Buck Buchanan, who was chosen 17th by Green Bay Buchanan didn't sign until the following year when he made pro football history.

Meanwhile, Florida A&M center Curtis Miranda was the NFL's highest drafted HBCU player that in 1962, picked 5th by the New York Giants. He was also the 11th pick of the New York Titans. That year, Chicago chose Grambling halfback Jerry Robinson (11) (he was also chosen 8th by San Diego), Cleveland picked Grambling end Clifton McNeal (11) and NC Central tackle Frank Gardner (13). The Dallas Cowboys, which came into the NFL two years before as the Dallas Rangers, made Southern end Donnie Davis their 6th pick and first from a black college. Detroit 's 13th selection was Central State of Ohio tackle Sherlock Knight. Green Bay picked up FAMU running back Jim Tulis (8), while the NY Giants made North Carolina A&T halfback Joe Taylor their 15th selection . Pittsburgh's 17th pick was FAMU back Nat Tucker. Langston College of Oklahoma sent back Don Smith to St Louis as that team's 19th pick.

The AFL's picks in 1962 included FAMU tackle Tom Chandler to Boston (18), fullback Charles Holmes of Maryland Eastern Shore to Denver (3) and halfback Homer Jones of Texas Southern was tagged as a future draft pick (24) by the San Diego Chargers.

The 1963 draft produced a history making pick by the AFL. The Dallas Texans had two first round picks courtesy a trade with the Oakland Raiders. Their first selection was Grambling tackle Buck Buchanan. He made pro football history by becoming HBCU's first - first round draftee. The first player from an HBCU to be drafted in the first round by an NFL team would not come for 5 more years.

Meanwhile, other AFL HBCU selections included Grambling halfback Stone Johnson to Dallas (14), FAMU fullback Hewritt Dixon (8) and FAMU's Bob Paremore (17) to Denver, Texas Southern halfback Homer Jones (5) and Grambling tackle Bob Burton (24) to Houston, and Jackson State end Willie Richardson (3) to the NY Titans.

The NFL drafted nine, many who were also chosen by the AFL. The list included Willie Richardson of JSU (7) and Texas Southern tackle Winston Hill (11) to Baltimore, FAMU defensive back James Tulis to Chicago (11) , and Jackson State end Al Greer to Detroit (18) . Minnesota drafted four. Including AFL draftees Buchanan and Jones. They also picked up Grambling center Lane Howell (15) and Maryland-Eastern Shore tackle Bob Taylor (9).

In 1964, NFL teams picked 14 players from HBCU's. One of them had set Olympic world records that summer at the Tokyo games. The Dallas Cowboys made FAMU's Bob Hayes their 7th pick. Interestingly, he was only the 2nd HBCU player chosen in the franchise's 4-year history. Other players picked included Texas Southern end Warren Wells (12) to Detroit, FAMU end Carlton Oats (16) and Prairie View tackle Carl Robinson (18) to Minnesota, Virginia Union tackle Roger Anderson (7) and Grambling halfback Jim Garrett (18), FAMU end Al Denson (6) and Tennessee State back Izzy Lang to Philadelphia, Jackson State tackle Ben McGee (4) to Pittsburgh, Grambling end Jim Griffin (15) and North Carolina A&T back Cornell Gordon (18) to San Francisco.

Nearly all the AFL's 9 picks in 1964 were NFL selections. It included Garrett to Boston. Robinson to Houston, McGhee and Gordon to New York (now the Jets), Oates to Oakland, and Anderson to San Diego, Two picked up only by AFL teams were Southern tackle Ed Mitchell (15) to San Diego, and Prairie View halftime Ezell Seals (8) to Houston.

In 1965, 17 players were drafted into the NFL. The highest drafted HBCU player that year was Grambling tackle Alphonse Dotson who was drafted 2nd by Green Bay. The Packers ' 5th round pick was Maryland -Eastern Shore fullback Doug Goodwin. That year, Baltimore picked FAMU halftime Bobby Felts (6), Tenn State tackle Roosevelt Davis (8) and Prairie View center Ray Johnson (20). Chicago chose FAMU tackle Dave Daniels (13), Grambling tackle Frank Cornish (11), and Southern end Frank Pitts (16).

Cleveland picked up Grambling back Mike Howell (8), Dallas picked up Elizabeth City State tackle Jethro Pugh (11), Detroit made Prairie View back Jeff Kearney their 11th pick and Maryland Eastern Shore tackle John Smith their 18th selection. The NY Giants chose Grambling's Willie Williams 8th and Jackson State back Ben Crenshaw 10th. Philadelphia picked up Prairie View back Otis Taylor (15), Pittsburgh chose Jackson State tackle Frank Malden (11) and the Washington Redskins chose Tennessee State guard Robert Reed 16th.

The AFL chose 11 HBCU players with several NFL draftees as well. They included Goodwin to Buffalo, Malden and Felts to Houston, Taylor to Kansas City, and Howell to San Diego. Those chosen only by AFL teams included Arkansas -Pine Bluff linebacker Gene Jeter (10) to Denver, Jackson State linebacker Roy Hilton to Houston (8) and Tennessee State guard Bob Reed to Houston (12), Jackson State end Gloster Richardson (7) and Alcorn State halfback Smith Reed (5) to Kansas City, Prairie View defensive tackle Seth Cartwright (16) to the NY Jets, and NC A&T fullback Will Beasley (6) and Texas Southern tackle Leon Hardy (17) to San Diego.

In 1964, the AFL held a mid-season redshirt draft . Four players were chosen, most of whom had already been picked up by NFL teams. It included Johnson , Daniels, Dotson, and Cornish.

The 1966 draft also saw the introduction of the first NFL team in the Deep South . In their first draft, the Atlanta Falcons picked up defensive back Ken Reeves from Virginia State. Twenty other HBCU players were also chosen. Baltimore's selectees included Tennessee State guard Jim Carter (12) , Morgan State halfback Kenneth Dukes (19) Norfolk State tackle Tom Carr (20), Chicago picked up Tennessee State defensive tackle Franklin McCrae (6) Maryland-Eastern Shore DB Curtis Gentry (17) and Grambling halfback Goldie Sellars (20) , Cleveland selected Southern defensive end Jim Battle (60 , Grambling flanker Leroy Carter (7) , Dallas selected end Arthur Richardson (7), Detroit picked up Tennessee State flanker Willie Walker (4th) and Johnnie Robinson(7) . Green Bay drafted Southern defensive end Sam Montgomery (10). LA picked up Grambling fullback Henry Dyer (4), Minnesota drafted Virginia Union halfback Monroe Beard (17), Philadelphia drafted Jackson State DB Taft Reed (19), the Steelers drafted Maryland-Eastern Shore halfback Emerson Boozer (7), Grambling halfback Charley Washington (11), San Francisco drafted NC A&T defensive back Mel Philips 5th and the Washington Redskins' 19th and 20th picks were FAMU end Andre White and center John Kelly respectively.

The AFL drafted 14, with several also picked up by the NFL; The dual league draftees were Battle to Boston, Carter and Philips to Buffalo, Sellers to Denver, Boozer to the NY Jets, and Reed to San Diego. Other players drafted only by AFL teams wee Fort Valley halfback Allen Smith (15) to Buffalo, Bethune-Cookman halfback Elijah Gibson (4) Tennessee State defensive back Fletcher Smith (8) and SC State defensive back Fred Dawson (10) to Kansas City, Tennessee State tackle Franklin McRae (7) to Oakland, and Tennessee State linebacker Danny Pride (10) to San Diego. The AFL also held a redshirt draft. Four players were picked, three to Houston. They are Virginia State tackle Richard Glover, Grambling State defensive tackle John Gary and NC A&T tackle Clyde Pettaway.

In 1967, the AFL and NFL drafted together for the first time, the first step in the eventual merger of the two leagues. NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle resolved that something had to be done to stop the bidding war that had been set up between the rival leagues.

In all, 25 players from the historically black colleges were selected, The highest picks were second rounders. Detroit picked up Jackson State defensive back Lem Barney, Houston grabbed Texas Southern halfback Roy Hopkins, Kansas City picked up Morgan State linebacker Willie Lanier, the Rams chose Texas Southern back Willie Ellison, and New Orleans grabbed South Carolina State flanker John Gilliam,. Other 1967 selectees included Elizabeth City back Eugene Snipes (6) and Allen University defensive back Larry Chester (16) to Atlanta, Grambling tackle Norman Davis (3), Maryland Eastern Shore back Charlie Stukes (4) and Morgan State defensive back Bob Wade (15) to Baltimore. Boston chose Texas Southern flanker Leroy Mitchell 11th Buffalo picked up Tennessee State defensive back Howard Finley (13), Chicago made Morgan State back Earl Mayo their 11th pick, Edward Waters defensive back Ladvie David was picked up 15th by Dallas, Denver grabbed FAMU guard Don Smith 15th, and South Carolina State defensive end Cleveland Robinson was the 14th pick of the Detroit Lions. In addition to second round pick Hopkins, the Houston Oilers also chose Arkansas Pine Bluff defensive tackle Willie Parker (5), Southern linebacker Pete Barnes (6), and Lincoln guard Henry Hammock (14). Kansas City drafted Tennessee State back Noland Smith (6), Jackson State defensive tackle Ed Pope (9), and Edward Waters fullback Linwood Simmons (13).

New Orleans also drafted Texas Southern defensive back John Douglas (5), the New York Jets drafted Grambling defensive back Julian Gray (4) and Louis Jackson (5), San Francisco picked up Tennessee State halfback Bill Turner (3), and Tuskegee linebacker Walter Johnson (8)1968 was a history-making year for the NFL and for black college football.

The Atlanta Falcons, who had the third pick of that year's draft, went to Nashville and made Tennessee State defensive end Claude Humphrey their first selection.Humphrey became the first HBCU player chosen in the first round by an NFL team.

The Falcons had two additional first round picks that year and chose Morgan State defensive end Carlton Dabney in one of them.Oakland also chose an HBCU player in the first round when they again tapped the resources of Tennessee State and picked up quarterback Eldridge Dickey, the first African American quarterback from any school chosen as a first round selection.

In all, 33 HBCU players were chosen in the 1968 draft, In addition to Humphrey and Dabney, Atlanta also chose South Carolina State Joe Wynns (6). Baltimore chose Maryland-Eastern Shore running back Jim Duncan (4), Tennessee State guard Tommy Davis (8), and Alabama State tight end Charles Mitchell (14). Boston picked up Jackson State tackle Tom Purchase (2), South Carolina State running back RC Gamble (4), and Jackson State defensive back Johnny Outlaw. Chicago chose FAMU defensive back Major Hazelton 3rd, Cincinnati drafted Southern linebacker Al Beauchamp 5th, made Alabama A&M linebacker Billy Kendricks their 6th pick and Grambling linebacker Wes Bean their 7th selection. Cleveland picked up FAMU defensive back Nathaniel Gaines in their 6th round. Their 14th pick was Jackson State running back Edgar Whipps . Dallas's second round pick was Mississippi Valley end Dave McDaniels. They also chose Albany State defensive tackle Frank Brown 8th. Houston made NC A&T tackle Elvin Bethea their 3rd selection, Los Angeles' 8th pick was FAMU flanker Joe Williams. Miami chose Texas Southern flanker Jimmy Hines as their 6th round selection, Prairie View tackle Cornelius Cooper (11) and Bethune Cookman defensive tackle Henry Still (18). New Orleans chose Langston flanker Eugene Howard 7th and South Carolina State running back Bennie Blocker 11th. The New York Giants picked chose Jackson State defensive end Doug Chapman (7), Grambling defensive end Henry Davis (11) and Jackson State defensive back Jimmy Holifield (12). The Jets grabbed UMES running back Bob Taylor in the 8th round. . Oakland picked up Maryland Eastern Shore tackle Art Shell 3rd, Morris Brown defensive back George Atkinson 7th , and FAMU tight end John Eason 9th.

St Louis picked up Grambling defensive back Bob Atkins 2nd, San Diego grabbed Southern running back Grundy Harris (9), and Morgan State linebacker Jeff Queen (12) and Johnson C Smith tackle Robert Wells (15). San Francisco picked up Tennessee State flanker Leo Johnson (6), Maryland-Eastern Shore Ben Hill (6), and Morris Brown linebacker Tommy Hart (10). Washington picked up Alcorn State guard Willie Banks (6) Texas Southern guard Coger Coverson (15) and Jackson State running back Willie Turner (16).

In 1969, a record 56 players were drafted by NFL and AFL clubs. The number included one first round pick, Tennessee State defensive back Jim Marsalis to Kansas City. There were two second round selections, Texas Southern linebacker Ernie Calloway to Philadelphia and Southern defensive end Richard Neal to New Orleans.

In 1969, Atlanta chose Prairie View tight end Jim Mitchell 4th, Mississippi Valley running back Jeff Stancil (10) and Texas Southern running back Ed Hughes (16). Baltimore's 5th round pick was Tennessee State defensive tackle King Dunlap , Boston's 5th pick was Alabama A&M quarterback Onree Jackson and their 9th pick was Albany State defensive end Joe Walker. Buffalo selected Gramblng quarterback James Harris 8th. Cincinnati picked up FAMU defensive back Ken Riley as their 6th pick. Dallas grabbed Prairie View defensive tackle Clarence Williams in the 11th round. Denver picked up Maryland-Eastern Shore defensive end Billy Thompson 3rd, Morgan State defensive back Ed Hayes 4th and Grambling running back Henry Jones 9th. Detroit's 8th round pick was Jackson State tackle Jim Carr. Houston 's 3rd round pick was Tennessee State tackle Elbert Drungo, their 4th selection was Grambling defensive back Charlie Joiner, their 6th round pick, their 6th round choice was South Carolina State flanker Willie Grate. The 8th pick was Prairie View defensive end Glenn Woods and their 9th selection was Grambling linebacker Ed Watson.

Kansas City, in addition to first round pick Marsalis, tagged Clark AU tight end Morris Strong 3rd, Alabama State running back John Pleasant, Prairie View defensive back Eural Johnson (16) and Tuskegee defensive back Ralph Jermons(17).

The Rams picked up Jackson State defensive back Richard Harvey 8th, and made Grambling defensive back Roger Williams their 13th pick,. Miami chose North Carolina A&T defensive back Willie Pearson in th4e 5th round, Arkansas Pine Bluff defensive back Amos Ayres 13th and Texas Southern defensive back Lloyd Mumford 16th. Minnesota drafted Texas Southern defensive back Marion Bates 6th , and Jackson State tight end Eugene Massey was their 15th pick. The New York Giants picked Tuskegee running back George Kirby 8th, and Morgan State running back John Fuqua 11t.h. The Jets picked up Tuskegee defensive back Cecil Leonard 8th (now head coach at Miles), FAMU defensive end Roger Finnie 14th and Morgan State running back George Nock 16th.New Orleans, in addition to Neal, also chose Alcorn linebacker Joe Owens 9th. Oakland chose Prairie View defensive back Fennis Taylor 7th, Tennessee State linebacker Harold Rice 11th, Johnson C Smith defensive back Al Goodard 12th, Alabama A&M running back Alvin Presnell 15th and Arkansas Pine Bluff tight end Billy Austin 17th.

Pittsburgh drafted Tennessee State flanker Joe Cooper 8th, Arkansas Pine Bluff defensive end LC Greenwood 10th and Alcorn flanker Dock Mosley 16th.

San Diego picked Norfolk State tackle Gene Ferguson 3rd, Alcorn tight end Willie Norwood 11th, Arkansas Pine Bluff running back Jim White 12th, and Southern flanker Willie Davenport 18th. San Francisco picked Grambling defensive back Hilton Crawford 9th and Alcorn tackle Willie Peane 11th. Washington chose Arkansas Pine Bluff running back Ed Cross 3rd, Southern linebacker Harold McClinton 6th , and Tennessee State defensive back Bob Shannon 12th.

Sixty-four HCBU players were chosen in the 1970 draft and for the first time, the yield included three first round picks. Houston chose North Carolina Central guard Doug Wilkerson first. He was also the 14th overall selection. New Orleans picked Texas Southern wide receiver Ken Burroughs first. He was the 10th overall pick and Oakland chose Morgan State tight end Raymond Chester number one and the 24th overall pick.

There was also a plethora of second round selections. Denver chose Southern defensive end Alden Roche, Houston , with two second round picks, chose Johnson C Smith running back Bill Dusenbery. The Rams picked Prairie View wide receiver Charlie Williams , Philadelphia picked up Southern defensive back Ray Jones, Cleveland chose Tennessee State defensive end Joe Jones and the NY Jets chose Jackson State wide receiver Richard Caster.

The other 1970 draftees included Johnson C. Smith tackle Paul Reed to Atlanta (4), Morgan State tight end Area Person (3), Grambling defensive end Billy Newsmen (5) and Kentucky State defensive end Philip Gary (15) To Baltimore, Langston running back Odell Lawson (7), FAMU wide receiver Kent Schoolfield (15) (now head coach at Fort Valley State) and Tuskegee defensive end Otis McDaniel to Boston, Grambling defensive back Glenn Alexander(3) , running back Terry Williams (11). Albany State defensive back Willie Dixon and Morris brown tackle Bill Cotton (14) to Buffalo, Jackson State guard Joe Stephen (4), Lincoln defensive back Lamar Pardon (7) , Grumbling linebacker Sam Wallace (11), Johnson C Smith wide receiver Joe Johnson (14) and Acorn defensive back Marvin Weeks (15) to Cincinnati., Lincoln linebacker Jim Thorp (14) to Cleveland ,Morgan State defensive back Mark Washington(13) and North Carolina Central wide receiver Julian Martin (14) to Dallas, Southern running back Lewis Porter (8) and Acorn linebacker Dave Washington (9) and Tusked defensive tackle Maurice Fullerton (10) to Denver, Kentucky State defensive back Roger Land (11) and Virginia State defensive end Jim Mitchell (3) to Detroit, Southern wide receive Ken Ellis (4) to Green Bay, Johnson C Smith tight end Richard Dawns (12) to Houston, Acorn defensive back David Haley (3), Grumbling running back Bill O'Neal (11),and Alcorn defensive back Rayford Jenkins (17) to Kansas City, FAMU wide receiver Melvin Jones (13) to LA, Tennessee State guard Charlie Williams (16) and Morris Brown defensive tackle George Myles (17) to Miami, Jackson State defensive back James Holland (12) to Minnesota, Grambling defensive back Delles Howell(4), Alcorn defensive end Lawrence Estes (8) , Southern defensive back Willie Davenport (12) , Alabama State tight end Ralph Miller (13) and Grambling defensive tackle Cliff Gasper (16) to New Orleans, Tennessee State guard Claude Brumfield (5) , and defensive tackle Walter Breaux (17) to the NY Giants, South Carolina State running back Cliff McClain (5), and Virginia State defensive back Jim Williams (7) to the Jets, Maryland-Eastern Shore defensive end/tackle Gerald Irons, UMES tackle Art Laster( 5), Bethuine Cookman defensive back Alvin Wyatt (6) {he is presently head coach at BC} to Oakland, Grambling defensive tackle Robert Jones (12) to Philadelphia , Southern defensive back Mel Blount (3), South Carolina State tackle Clarence Kegler(6) , Texas Southern linebacker Bert Alexson (14) and Mississippi Valley tight end Harry Kett (17) to Pittsburgh, Norfolk State running back Pettus Farrer (5) to San Diego, Livingstone defensive back Produs Perkins (16) to San Francisco , Arkansas Pine Bluff defensive tackle Manny Sistrunk (5), and Maryland-Eastern Shore tight end Mack Alston (11) to Washington.

In all, 342 players from HBCU colleges were drafted by NFL and AFL clubs during the 1960s. The majority of them came from Grambling (42), FAMU (34), Jackson State (28) , Tennessee State (26) and Southern (25).

The period of 1971 through 1981 saw another first for the NFL and black schools when a player became the first overall pick of a draft.

SOURCE MATERIAL for this report comes from the NFL and through media guides of the various conferences and schools.


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