Big John Merritt Finalist For Black College Football Hall of Fame
Saturday, December 12, 2009
“Big John” Merritt Leads List of Four Big Blue Finalists
for Inaugural Black College Hall of Fame

Legendary Tennessee State football coach John “Big John” Merritt is among four persons listed as finalists for induction into the Inaugural Black College Hall of Fame. The other Big Blue finalists are Eldridge “The Lord’s Prayer” Dickey, Joe “Jefferson Street Joe” Gilliam, Jr. and Ed “Too Tall” Jones.

Thirty-five finalists were announced in Atlanta for The Black College Football Hall of Fame.  The inaugural class of inductees will be honored on February 20, 2010 at the Priority Payment Systems Inaugural Enshrinement Ceremony in Atlanta, Georgia, in conjunction with Black History Month.

The inaugural class of inductees will include eight players, two coaches and one contributor.  A Selection Committee comprised of prominent journalists and football executives chose the finalists from a field of more than 260 nominees, and will vote again to select inductees. The 35 finalists are:

Player Finalists
Lem Barney (DB, Jackson State University, 1963-1966)
Mel Blount (DB, Southern University, 1966-1970)
Robert Brazile (LB, Jackson State University, 1971-1975)
Rosevelt Brown (OL, Morgan State University, 1949-1952)
Willie Brown (DB, Grambling State University, 1959-1963)
Junious “Buck” Buchanan (DE, Grambling State University, 1959-1963)
Harry Carson (DE, South Carolina State University, 1972-1975)
Willie Davis (DL, Grambling State University, 1952-1956)
Eldridge Dickey (Tennessee State University, 1964-1967)
Willie “Gallopin’ Gal” Galimore (RB, Florida A&M University, 1953-1956)
Joe Gilliam, Jr. (QB, Tennessee State University, 1966-1969)
“Bullet” Bob Hayes (WR/RB/KR, Florida A&M University, 1960-1964)
David “Deacon” Jones (DE, South Carolina State and Mississippi Valley State, 1958-1960)
Ed “Too Tall” Jones (DL, Tennessee State University, 1970-1973)
Leroy Kelly (RB, Morgan State University, 1960-1963)
Willie “Honey Bear” Lanier (LB, Morgan State University, 1963-1967)
Steve McNair (QB, Alcorn State University, 1991-1994)
Marion Motley (RB/LB, South Carolina State University, 1939-1942)
Walter “Sweetness” Payton (RB, Jackson State University, 1971-1974)
Jerry Rice (WR, Mississippi Valley State University, 1981-1984)
Willie “Wonderful Willie” Richardson (WR, Jackson State University, 1959-1962)
Art Shell (OL, University of Maryland-Eastern Shore, 1964-1967)
Ben “Big Ben” Stevenson (RB, Tuskegee University, 1923-1930)
Willie “Satellite” Totten (Mississippi Valley State University, 1982-1985)
Paul "Tank" Younger (RB/DB, Grambling State University, 1945-1948)
Coach Finalists
Earl Banks (Head Coach, Morgan State University, 1960-1973)
Marino “The Godfather” Casem (Head Coach, Alcorn State University, 1963-1992)
Alonzo “Jake” Gaither (Head Coach, Florida A&M University, 1945-1969)
Willie Jeffries (Head Coach, South Carolina State University, 1973-2001)
John “Big John” Merritt (Head Coach, Tennessee State University, 1953-1983)
Ace Mumford (Head Coach, Southern University, 1927-1961)
Eddie G. Robinson (Head Coach, Grambling State University, 1941-1997)
Contributor Finalists
Ralph Waldo Emerson Jones (President, Grambling State University)
Collie J. Nicholson (Sports Information Director, Grambling State University)
Bill Nunn, Jr. (Pittsburgh Courier Reporter and Pittsburgh Steelers NFL Scout)