Editor’s note: On July 30, the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame inducts its Class of 2022. What follows is Part II of a series detailing the achievements of the eight inductees, today featuring Mississippi State and NFL standout Eric Moulds.
Jackie Sherrill recruited and coached many, many splendidly gifted athletes in his stints at Pittsburgh, Texas A&M and Mississippi State.
Lucedale’s Eric Moulds, soon to be inducted into the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame, Sherrill says, was the best of all.
“Size, speed, maturity and football knowledge, Eric Moulds had it all,” Sherrill said. “I was fortunate to have some great ones who had many years in the NFL, but Eric was the best overall. He won so many games for his teams, first at State and then at Buffalo in the NFL.”
As a player, Moulds stood 6 feet, 2 inches and packed 225 pounds of muscle. He ran with the speed of a world class sprinter. Playing on predominantly running teams at State from 1993 until 1995, he caught 117 passes for 2,022 yards (just over 17 yards per catch).
He also excelled as a kick returner, leading the nation in kickoff returns in 1994 with 33 yards per return. We can only imagine what it was like to speed down the field, covering kickoffs, and see a muscular 225-pounder coming at you, carrying the football, at world class speed.
That speed/size quotient, along with sure hands, made him a first round draft choice of the Buffalo Bills, for whom he played 10 of his 12 NFL seasons. For his pro football career, he caught 764 passes for 9,995 yards and 49 touchdowns. He was a much-feared deep threat, once averaging more than 20 yards per catch for an entire season. Another remarkable statistic: 475 of his 764 NFL catches resulted in a first down.
He made the All-Rookie team in 1996 and played in three Pro Bowls later in his career. Twice, he was named All-Pro. None of those awards, Moulds says, compares to his being voted into the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame.
“When you look at all the great athletes who are from Mississippi, it just makes you so proud, man,” Moulds said. “There are about 300 people in the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and now I am going to be part of that.”
Moulds said he is well aware that Mississippi leads the nation per capita in producing both NFL players and Pro Football Hall of Famers. “And it’s not just the guys who were born in Mississippi either,” Moulds said. “I’ve run into so many guys around the league whose roots are in Mississippi, guys like Charles Woodson and Larry Fitzgerald. Woodson’s people were from Picayune, Fitzgerald’s from Natchez. It’s amazing. I’m proud to be part of that.”
These days, the 49-year-old Moulds lives in Charlotte where he has a training facility and works with athletes from high school to the NFL. Among the players he trains now is another Lucedale native, Ty Tryfogle, who played his college football at Indiana and who Moulds believes is about to make a splash for the Dallas Cowboys as an undrafted free agent.
Moulds says he enjoys working with younger players because it keeps him close to the game he loves.
“There’s a lot about football I don’t miss, but I miss the camaraderie of the locker room and the relationships you have with your teammates,” Moulds says. “My business still connects me to that. I enjoy it.”
Moulds says he and many of his former Mississippi State teammates stay in touch, and he remains close to Sherrill. “Coach Sherrill was a players’ coach,” Moulds says. “He had a couple of simple rules – be on time and never wear a cap or hat inside – and other than that, he expected you to take care of your business.”
Clearly, Moulds took care of his.
The 2022 Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame Induction Class includes Moulds, world swimming champion Maggie Bowen-Hanna, basketball coach Kermit Davis, Sr., baseball standouts Barry Lyons and David Dellucci, golf champion Jim Gallagher Jr., football star Eric Moulds, and football coaches Bob Tyler and Willis Wright.
For MSHOF Induction Weekend event and ticket information, click here.