Abbott to be inducted into Black College Hall of Fame


 TUSKEGEE, Ala. – Legendary Tuskegee University coach Cleveland Leigh Abbott is among 11 black college football greats who will be inducted into the Black College Football Hall Fame Feb. 18 during the third annual enshrinement ceremony at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in Atlanta.

Other inductees are:

  • Willie Brown, defensive back, Grambling State University, 1959-1963.
  • Harry Carson, defensive end, South Carolina State University, 1972-1975.
  • Eldridge Dickey, quarterback, Tennessee State University, 1964-1967.
  • James “Shack” Harris, quarterback, Grambling State University, 1965-1968.
  • Claude Humphrey (DE, Tennessee State University, 1964-1967.
  • Steve McNair, quarterback, Alcorn State University, 1991-1994.
  • Willie “Wonderful Willie” Richardson, wide receiver, Jackson State University, 1959-1962.
  • Johnny Sample, defensive back/running back, Maryland Eastern Shore, 1954-1958.
  • Rayfield “Big Cat” Wright, offensive tackle, Fort Valley State, 1963-1966.
  • Jackie Graves, former NFL Scout and director of player personnel for the Philadelphia Eagles.

Abbott was the architect of what has become the winningest football program among HBCUs with 634 all-time victories. He coached the Golden Tigers for 32 years from 1923-54 and compiled a 202-97-27 record. He is No. 1 on the school’s all-time victory list. Abbott’s teams won 12 SIAC championships – including 10 in a row from 1924-33 -- six Black College National Championships and were virtually unbeatable from the mid-1920s through early 1930s. The Golden Tigers 74-2-9 in 85 games from 1923-31 with six undefeated seasons, including 10-0 and 9-0 marks in 1926 and ’29, respectively; they played 46 consecutive games without a loss from 1923-28, winning 41 and tying five and 32 straight without tasting defeat from 1928-32, and they had a 26-game winning streak from 1925-27.

“It’s long overdue,’’ Tuskegee Director of Athletics Alvin Jackson said of Abbott’s selection to the Hall of Fame. “He should have been in the first class. Coach Abbott paved the way for a lot of other coaches to be successful.’’

The Black College Football Hall of Fame was established in October of 2009 to honor the greatest football players and coaches from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Previous inductees include greats such as Lem Barney, Mel Blount, Buck Buchanan, Willie Davis, “Bullet” Bob Hayes, Deacon Jones, Walter Payton, Eddie G. Robinson, Jerry Rice, Art Shell, Doug Williams, Paul “Tank” Younger, Willie Jeffries and Ben Stevenson, who is generally considered the greatest football player in Tuskegee’s history.

The newest members were selected from a list of 35 finalists who had been determined earlier by the Black College Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee comprised of journalists and former football executives from around the country. The committee includes Ernie Accorsi, Charles Bailey, Gil Brandt, Charles Garcia, Donald Hunt, Mike Hurd, Roscoe Nance, Ty Miller, Charlie Neal and Lloyd Vance.

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