When discussing the greatest athletes that have attended historically black colleges (HBCUs) one players’ name that will always be mentioned is all-time great NFL wide receiver Jerry Rice. Most know him for his achievements in the NFL as a member of the San Francisco 49ers in the 1980s and 1990s, but not many people know about his storied college career.
Jerry Rice played college football for the Mississippi Valley State Delta Devils from 1981-1984 where he would set several NCAA FCS records with some remaining intact to this day including most receptions in a game (24), most receiving yards per game in a season (168.2), most receiving touchdowns in a season (27).
In his junior season, Jerry Rice finished with the season 102 receptions and 1,450 receiving yards both NCAA records and was named to the first team Division I-AA All-American team. He continued to raise his level play in his senior season finishing with 112 receptions for 1,845 yards and 27 receiving touchdowns breaking the records he set in his junior season and helping the Delta Devils average over 57 points per game.
Not only was Jerry Rice named to the Division I-AA All American team once again in his senior year, he also became the second of only three players from an HBCU to ever finish in the top 10 for the most prestigious individual award in College Football the Heisman Trophy.
Jerry Rice concluded his college football career putting up 301 catches for 4,693 receiving yards and 50 touchdowns.
In 1999, Mississippi Valley State named their football stadium after Rice and his quarterback Willie Totten changing the name from Magnolia Stadium to Rice-Totten Stadium. In 2006, Jerry Rice was named to the College Football Hall of Fame and the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame in 2007.
Jerry Rice entered the NFL as the 16th overall pick in the first round of the 1985 NFL Draft to the San Francisco 49ers joining a 49ers team coming off a season where they finished the regular season with a 15-1 record winning the Super Bowl against the Miami Dolphins. The 49ers offense featured future Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana along with future All-Pro running back Roger Craig and future All-Pro receiver Dwight Clark.
Jerry Rice would cement his legacy as the greatest wide receiver in NFL History with an NFL career that saw him win three Super Bowl championships, a Super Bowl MVP, six seasons leading the NFL in receiving yards, receiving yards per game, and receiving touchdowns, 13 Pro Bowl selections, 10 All-Pro selections and two AP Offensive Player of the Year awards.
In addition, Rice holds NFL records for career catches, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns in regular season and playoff history. In addition, in 1987, he broke the record for most receiving touchdowns (22) in a season in only 12 games until it was broken by Randy Moss (23) in 2007 although he did so playing in four more games than Jerry did when he broke the record in 1987.
In 2010, Jerry Rice was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame making him one of four wide receivers to ever be elected to the Hall of Fame in their first year of eligibility.
Jerry Rice was named the Greatest Player of All-Time on the NFL Network’s list of the top 100 Players of All-Time in 2010 by a panel of current and former NFL players, coaches, and executives as well as media members. He was also announced as a member of the NFL’s 100th Anniversary team in 2019.
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