Black College Football Hall of Fame 2021 class includes two from Alcorn State
Inductees will be players Winston Hill, Coy Bacon, Greg Coleman, Jimmie Giles, Roynell Young and coach Willard Bailey
Winston Hill, who was named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Centennial Class earlier this year, leads a class of five players and one coach who will be enshrined in the Black College Football Hall of Fame class of 2021, which was announced Thursday.
Hill, Coy Bacon, Greg Coleman, Jimmie Giles and Roynell Young were selected as players, joining longtime Virginia Union coach Willard Bailey from the list of 25 finalists.
The class was chosen by the Hall’s 11-member selection committee. The group will be honored at a ceremony scheduled for Feb. 20 in Atlanta.
Hill, who went on to be an eight-time Pro Bowl selection for the New York Jets, was a three-time All-Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) player at Texas Southern. Giles was a two-time All-SWAC player at Alcorn State and Young played on Alcorn State’s 1979 SWAC championship team.
Bacon went on to be a dominant pass-rusher in the NFL after arriving to Jackson State as a raw prospect who lined up at defensive end, defensive tackle and linebacker. Coleman was Florida A&M’s punter and place-kicker. He was the first Black punter in the NFL and had a 12-year career in the league, including 10 seasons with the Minnesota Vikings.
And Bailey, a head coach at four different schools between 1971 and 2013, including two stints at Virginia Union, won 238 games and made six NCAA Division II playoff appearances.
Coy Bacon, defensive lineman
- Jackson State University, 1964-1966
- Los Angeles Rams, 1968-1972; San Diego Chargers, 1973-1975; Cincinnati Bengals, 1976-1977; Washington, 1978-1981
Career: His given name was Lander McCoy Bacon and he went by Coy. He once told the Ironton (Ohio) Tribune when he first began playing, “I didn’t know much about playing football, I came from the cornfields of Kentucky; I learned the game on playgrounds.” Bacon left Jackson State before graduation, and said during his NFL career he left because he needed to earn money. Some believe he holds the unofficial single-season NFL sack record with 26 in 1976, before sacks became an official statistic in 1982. He played with the Charleston (West Virginia) Rockets of the Continental Football League and with the Dallas Cowboys taxi squad in 1967 before he was traded to the Rams in 1968. He went on to be a three-time Pro Bowl selection in the NFL and played one season in the United States Football League with Washington, in 1983, when he was 41.
Why he was enshrined: In the years when Eddie Robinson’s Grambling teams often dominated the SWAC, Bacon was a raw player at Jackson State – by his own admission – but scouts who saw him said he had the look of the dominant edge rushers to come decades later.
Signature moment: Bacon arrived to Jackson State only because a former high school teammate, Danny Pride, was at the school. Bacon was considered a defensive tackle, defensive end and linebacker.
Willard Bailey, Coach
- Virginia Union, 1971-1983 and 1995-2003; Norfolk State, 1984-1992; St. Paul’s, 2005-2010; Virginia-Lynchburg, 2011-2013
Career: Bailey went 238-169-7 in his career, including two stints at Virginia Union. His teams made six NCAA Division II playoff appearances and won seven Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association titles. Bailey’s name is on coach of the year awards, football camps and an annual game in Virginia.
Why he was enshrined: His Virginia Union teams did not have a losing season in his first stint from 1971 to 1983 and made five consecutive Division II playoff appearances in that time. In six years, from 1979 to 1984, with five of those years at Virginia Union and one at Norfolk State, Bailey’s teams won 57 games with four conference titles and six Division II playoff appearances. In his second stint at Virginia Union, he showed his ability to rebuild when after going 0-8-2 in 1995, the team went 6-5 two years later and 8-3 three seasons later. When he was at St. Paul’s College, he helped Greg Toler become the school’s first player to be selected in the NFL draft.
Signature moment: Bailey said in a 2019 interview that one of his proudest achievements was he taught “two or three classes” each year while football coach, saying, “I always felt compelled never to divorce myself from education.”
Greg Coleman, Punter
- Florida A&M University, 1972-1975
- Cleveland Browns, 1977; Minnesota Vikings, 1978-1987; Washington, 1988
Career: Coleman played kicker and punter for the Rattlers, and by the time he graduated Coleman was the school’s record-holder for career field goals, extra points, field goal percentage and extra point percentage. By the end of his career, he held school records for the longest field goal (52 yards) and punts in a game. Coleman went on to be the first Black punter in the NFL, entering the league as a 14th-round draft pick by the Cincinnati Bengals in 1976, but didn’t make the team. He was cut by the Browns in 1977, and spent a year teaching history before starting his long tenure with the Vikings. Coleman had three punts blocked in a 12-year NFL career, one in his last nine years in the league.
Why he was enshrined: He has said his dream was to be a punter or kicker in the NFL. Now the sideline reporter for Vikings broadcasts on KFAN, Coleman was a trailblazer. He has said his kicking coach at Florida A&M, Costa “Pop” Kittles, told him: “If you kick it where they ain’t, they will find a place for you at the next level … if you do what you’re supposed to do, they’ll find you.” Coleman was enshrined in the Florida A&M Sports Hall of Fame in 1985.
Signature moment: Coleman has called his time at Florida A&M “the most phenomenal four years of my life” and said being enshrined in the school’s sports Hall of Fame – he also ran track – was one of his proudest sports moments.
Jimmie Giles, Tight end
- Alcorn State University, 1973-1976
- Houston Oilers, 1977; Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1978-1986; Detroit Lions, 1986-1987; Philadelphia Eagles, 1987-1989
Career: Giles turned down a football scholarship offer from Jackson State to walk on and play baseball at Alcorn State. He played three seasons of baseball for the Braves and was a 12th-round draft pick by the Los Angeles Dodgers in his junior year. He was a two-time All-SWAC pick in football and his first college game was against Grambling with Doug Williams at quarterback – the two would later be Buccaneers’ teammates in the NFL. Giles was selected by the Oilers in the third round of the 1977 draft, but spent nine of his 13 NFL seasons with the Buccaneers. He was a four-time Pro Bowl selection in the NFL and had three 40-catch seasons.
Why he was enshrined: Though he came to football slowly – he has publicly said he preferred baseball through his high school years – Giles’ combination of athleticism and reliability as a receiver was clear from the first time the Alcorn State coaches got him on a football field. He said one of his best football memories was the 1972 Mississippi state high school championship his team at Greenville, Mississippi, won the year after integration merged three high schools into one. He once said in an interview: “It was just like Remember the Titans.” Giles was inducted into the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame in 2013.
As a pro, Giles’ four-touchdown effort against the Miami Dolphins in 1985 prompted Hall of Fame coach Don Shula to say, “I can’t remember any tight end dominating us that way.”
Signature moment: Giles has said he wouldn’t have gone out for football at Alcorn State if he had not been enticed by the chance to play in the Superdome against Grambling University for the 1975 season opener. He has called it a “Field of Dreams.”
Winston Hill, Tackle
- Texas Southern University, 1959-1962
- New York Jets, 1963-1976; Los Angeles Rams, 1977
Career: Hill arrived to Texas Southern as a 200-pound football player who had also been a high school tennis champion. He played on both the offensive and defensive lines at the school, gradually growing into his frame, gaining 70 pounds by his senior season to become a future NFL player. Hill was an All-American on Texas Southern teams brimming with talent, including Art Strahan – Hall of Famer Michael Strahan’s uncle – and Homer Jones. Hill was enshrined in the Texas Southern Sports Hall of Fame in 1986.
Why he was enshrined: Hill will become one of the most decorated players to be honored by the Black College Football Hall of Fame. A two-way player at Texas Southern, he consistently showed the kind of drive, athleticism and savvy to consistently have an impact, even as he grew physically into the jobs. He was an eight-time Pro Bowl selection for the Jets in the AFL and NFL. At the time of his retirement, Hill held Jets’ team records for career games (195) and consecutive starts (174). Hill was also named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Centennial Class in January and will be enshrined next summer.
Signature moment: In an interview with Texas Southern, Hill said being named to the school’s sports Hall of Fame was an honor he would always cherish. He died in 2016 in Denver.
Roynell Young, Cornerback
- Alcorn State University, 1976-1979
- Philadelphia Eagles, 1980-1988
Career: Young didn’t ease into his football career at Alcorn State, with seven interceptions and 12 knocked-down passes in his first year on the field in 1977. He followed that with seven interceptions in 1978 and six in 1979. In his final year at Alcorn State, the school won the 1979 SWAC championship. Young was named first-team All-SWAC, first-team All-National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics and won the Sheridan Broadcasting Defensive Player of the Year. Invited to the 1980 Senior Bowl, Young was a first-round pick by the Eagles in the 1980 draft. He was the first Alcorn State player to be selected in the first round of the draft. He played nine seasons for the Eagles and finished his career with one Pro Bowl selection and three playoff appearances – with three interceptions as a rookie in the Eagles’ three postseason games in 1980, and 23 interceptions overall.
Why he was enshrined: Young was ranked No. 3 by Alcorn Stare in its list of 50 greatest football players in the program’s history. With 20 interceptions in his three seasons at the school, he was always around the ball with a double take-worthy 48 passes knocked down in three seasons. In 1979, the Braves surrendered 108 passing yards per game as Young finished with a career-high 61 tackles, six interceptions and 19 passes knocked down.
Signature moment: That 1979 season when the Braves’ secondary also included Leslie Frazier, who had nine interceptions that year, and they surrendered 10.7 points per game.