ATLANTA, Ga. – Joe '747' Adams and Joe Gilliam, Sr. have been named as finalists for the Black College Football Hall of Fame. The two Tennessee State greats were selected from over 175 nominees by a Selection Committee composed of prominent journalists, commentators, historians, former NFL General Managers and football executives.
"Players from Historically Black Colleges and Universities have an indelible mark on football at all levels,” said Selection Committee Chairman Roscoe Nance. “There has been more talent to come from HBCUs than most people know; this Hall of Fame is about shedding light on that talent.”
The Class of 2016 will be announced on October 27, 2015 and will be enshrined during the ceremony, on February 27, 2016 at the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta, Georgia.
Adams ranks second at Tennessee State in career passing yards with 8,653. He held the record for 34 years until Michael German completed his career in 2014 with 11 more yards than Adams. The Gulfport, Miss., native is still the most prolific touchdown passer in program history with 30 in 1980 and 75 in his career which stretched from 1977-80.
Adams was drafted by the San Francisco 48ers in the twelfth round of the 1981 NFL Draft. He continued his professional career by playing three seasons in the Canadian Football League with the Saskatchewan Roughriders, Toronto Argonauts and Ottawa Rough Riders.
Gilliam is a finalist as a contributor for his role as one of the top defensive coordinators in the game. The one time head coach of the Tigers (1989-92) ran the defense for legendary head coach and BCFHOF inductee John Merritt from 1963-83.
During the 20-year span, the Tigers compiled a record of 184-42-8 (.803) and recorded four undefeated seasons and seven Black College National Titles. Gilliam coached many greats at TSU including Ed “Too Tall” Jones, Claude Humphrey, Wyman Bryant, Joe “Turkey” Jones, and Richard Dent.
Gilliam is father of former Tiger and Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Joe Gilliam and was inducted into the Tennessee Sports Hall Of Fame in 2007.
The two finalists hope to join six other TSU greats who have been previously inducted. Eldridge Dickey and Claude Humphrey entered in 2012, Joe Gilliam, Jr., Ed “Too Tall’ Jones and John Merritt were enshrined in 2013 and Richard Dent was the latest entrant in 2015.
Other player finalists are Coy Bacon (DL, Jackson State University, 1964-1967), Emerson Boozer (RB, University of Maryland Eastern Shore, 1962-1965), Ken Burrough (WR, Texas Southern University, 1966-1969), Harold Carmichael (WR, Southern University, 1967-1970), Raymond Chester (TE, Morgan State University, 1966-1969), Parnell “Paydirt” Dickinson (QB, Mississippi Valley State University, 1972-1975), Len Ford (DL, Morgan State University, 1944-1945), Earl “Air” Harvey (QB, North Carolina Central University, 1985-1988), Harold Jackson (WR, Jackson State University, 1965-1968), Gary “Big Hands” Johnson (DL, Grambling State University, 1971-1974), Leo “Lincoln Locomotive” Lewis (RB, Lincoln University, 1951-1954), Tyrone McGriff (OL, Florida A&M University, 1976-1979), Timothy Newsome (RB/KR, Winston Salem State University, 1976-1979), Jethro Pugh (DE, Elizabeth City State University, 1961-1964), Isiah Robertson (DB, Southern University 1967-1970), Otis Taylor (WR, Prairie View A&M University, 1961-1964), Emmitt Thomas (QB/DB, Bishop College, 1962-1965), Everson Walls (DB, Grambling State University, 1977-1980) and Aeneas Williams (CB, Southern University, 1987-1990).
Other contributor finalists are Ralph Waldo Emerson Jones (President, Grambling State University, 1936-1977), James Frank (President, Lincoln University, President NCAA and Southwestern Athletic Conference Commissioner), Lloyd C. A. "Judge" Wells (AFL/NFL scout for the Kansas City Chiefs) and Kenneth Free (Commissioner, Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, 1978 -1996).
The Black College Football Hall of Fame was established in October 2009 to honor the greatest football players and coaches from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU’s). The BCFHOF celebrates the historic contributions of Black College Football’s greatest participants, their journeys, and influence on the lives they’ve touched and the sport they love. Its trustees are football legends Mel Blount, James Harris, Willie Lanier, Art Shell and Doug Williams. The Black College Football Hall of Fame is sponsored by The Shack Harris & Doug Williams Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit, tax-exempt organization.