The Black College Football Hall of Fame announced its Class of 2021 on Thursday, and three of the six inductees played college football in Mississippi.

Jimmie Giles and Roynell Young of Alcorn State and the late Coy Bacon of Jackson State will join the BCF Hall of Fame, soon to have a permanent home at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. The other three inductees were Greg Coleman of Florida A&M, Winston Hill of Texas Southern and Willard Bailey of Norfolk State.

Giles, Young and Bacon all became NFL stars following their college careers in the Southwestern Athletic Conference. Giles, from Greenville, was an All-Pro tight end with the Tampa Bay Bucs, while Young, from New Orleans, was a Pro Bowl cornerback for the Philadelphia Eagles. Bacon, from Cadiz, Ky., was a three-time Pro Bowler over a 14-year NFL career, primarily with the Los Angeles Rams.

Giles actually went to Alcorn to play baseball but was discovered on the football field by then-Alcorn offensive coordinator O.C. Brown, who watched him run pass routes against Alcorn football players in a pick-up game. Brown told Giles he had the skills to make a living in football.

“He told me I could play at the next level at a time when I hadn’t really played at any level,” Giles said, laughing, during a Thursday teleconference.

Giles was inducted into the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame in 2013.

Both Giles and Young credited the legendary Alcorn coach Marino Casem for much of their success. Young turned to Alcorn after a previous scholarship offer to Tulane fell through. He said the switch from uptown New Orleans to rural Lorman was “a real culture shock.” Casem, he said, made the switch well worthwhile.

“Marino Casem shook my world, turned my life around and was chiefly responsible for me becoming the man I am today,” Young said.

Bacon played at Jackson State in the mid-60’s and was undrafted after JSU. In fact, he played in the old Continental Football League before getting a tryout with the Dallas Cowboys and spending a season on the team’s practice squad. His career took off after a trade to the Los Angeles Rams in 1968. He was named the Rams’ defensive player of the year in both 1971 and 1972 as a member of the famed Fearsome Foursome defensive line.

Bacon, who died in 2008 at age 66, was credited with a remarkable 130 career sacks. For a comparison, Pro Football Hall of Famer Rickey Jackson, the Saints star, had 128. Terrell Suggs of the Kansas City Chiefs is the leader among active NFL players with 139.

Giles, who has received considerable consideration for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, caught 41 touchdown passes in the NFL. Young played in two Super Bowls and intercepted 23 passes during his eight-year NFL career, all with the Eagles.

The induction ceremony is scheduled for June 21, 2021, in Atlanta.

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Rick Cleveland, a native of Hattiesburg and resident of Jackson, has been Mississippi Today’s sports columnist since 2016. A graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi with a bachelor’s in journalism, Rick has worked for the Monroe (La.) News Star World, Jackson Daily News and Clarion Ledger. He was sports editor of Hattiesburg American, executive director of the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame. His work as a syndicated columnist and celebrated sports writer has appeared in numerous magazines, periodicals and newspapers.
Rick has been recognized 13 times as Mississippi Sports Writer of the Year, and is recipient of multiple awards and honors for his reporting and writing.