The Best Pro Football Players in Mississippi History, Pt. 4: O-Line Men
Mississippi has seen great players at the skilled positions leave the college ranks and have great careers. The state can argue that it has produced the best running back, quarterback, and wide receiver to ever play pro football.
In just about every decade, Mississippi has produced some of the best offensive linemen in football history.
So here are the best offensive linemen from Mississippi, in no particular order, and their most notable NFL team.
Ken Farragut: Philadelphia Eagles via Ole Miss Rebels
Farragut was a four-year letterman at center for Ole Miss from 1947-50. In the 1950 season, Farragut was named team captain. After the 1950 season, he was invited to play in the College All-Star Game in Chicago.
The Eagles drafted Farragut in the sixth round with the 68th pick in the 1951 draft. Farragut played center for the Eagles from 1951-54. Farragut was selected to the Pro Bowl in 1954.
Robert Gene Hickerson: Cleveland Browns via Ole Miss Rebels
Hickerson played offensive tackle for the Rebels from 1955-57. To this day, Hickerson is considered the one of the best players from the South Eastern Conference. In 1957, was named co-captain and named to the “Team of the Century” (1883-1992) for Ole Miss.
In the 1957 draft, Cleveland used the 78th pick in the seventh round to select Hickerson.
After being drafted, Hickerson was moved to guard in order to take advantage of his speed. For the first four years of his career, he was used as messenger guard, a player who relays the play from the sideline.
In 1961, the use of the messenger guard ended, and Hickerson was named the full-time starter.
Hickerson missed the 1961 season after breaking his leg, and in 1962, he missed the first two games of the season. After these injuries, he never missed a game.
Hickerson started in 165 straight games, a Browns record at the time, and he blocked for three Hall of Fame running backs: Jim Brown, Bobby Mitchell, and Jim Brown.
Hickerson was named to six Pro Bowls (1965-70), was selected to first-team All-Pro five times (1966-70), and was named to the 1960’s NFL All-Decade Team.
Hickerson has been honored by both Ole Miss and Cleveland, but his greatest honor came in 2007. He was inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame by his good friend and former teammate Bobby Franklin.
Marvin Terrell: Dallas Texans/Kansas City Chiefs via Ole Miss Rebels
Terrell played for the Rebels from 1957-59 as a guard. Terrell was drafted by the AFL's Dallas Texans (who would later move to Kansas City and become the Chiefs) in the second round with the 26th pick in 1960.
In Terrell’s four-year pro football career, he was named as an AFL All-Star in 1962. He was also part of the longest pro football game played at the time.
In the 1962 AFL Championship Game against the Houston Oilers, Terrell was part of a game that lasted 77 minutes and 54 seconds as the Texans won 20-17 in double overtime.
Kent Hull: Buffalo Bills via Mississippi State Bulldogs
Hull played center for Mississippi State from 1979-82. After his college career, Hull went on to play in the USFL from 1983-1985.
Hull would be the only center in pro football history to block for two 1,000-yard running backs in the same season. The two running backs were Hershel Walker and Maurice Carthon, who rushed for a combined 2,381 yards.
In 1986, both Hull and quarterback Jim Kelly came to the Bills after the USFL folded. During Hull’s 11 years in Buffalo, the Bills enjoyed eight winning seasons, and Hull played in 121 straight games.
Hull anchored an offensive line that led the Bills to the four consecutive AFC Championship games and four straight Super Bowls (XXV, XXVI, XXVII, and XXVIII).
Hull was named to three Pro Bowls (1988-90) and named first-team All-Pro twice (1990-91).
After Hull’s playing career ended, he has been honored several times. Hull was elected to the Mississippi State University Sports Hall of Fame 2000, Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame 2002, and the Bills Wall of Fame in 2002.
Tom Neville: Boston Patriots via Mississippi State Bulldogs
Neville was an offensive tackle for Mississippi State from 1962-64. In 1965, Neville was drafted by the Boston Patriots in the ninth round with the 115th pick.
In his 14-year career, Neville was able to play with the Patriots during their time in the NFL and AFL.
Neville was selected to the Pro Bowl in 1966. More impressively, Neville was named to the 1960s and 1970s All-Decade Team. In 1994, he was selected to the Patriots 35th Anniversary Team.
Tom Goode: Houston Oiler and Miami Dolphins via Mississippi State Bulldogs
Goode played center for Mississippi State from 1958-60. In 1960, he was named first-team All-SEC and All-American.
In 1961, the Houston Oilers drafted Goode in the second round. The Detroit Lions also drafted him in the seventh round with the 234th pick.
Goode would spend his first four seasons with the Houston Oilers from 1962-65. Like Terrell, he would play in the longest game played at the time, the 1962 AFL Championship Game against the Dallas Texans.
Goode spent the next four seasons with the Miami Dolphins from 1966-69.
As a Dolphin, he was selected as an AFL All-Star in 1969.
Unknown to many fans, in 1970, Goode played one season for the Baltimore Colts. In Super Bowl V, he was the long snapper on the game-winning field goal, ending one of sloppiest Super Bowls ever played.
Walter Suggs Houston Oilers via Mississippi State Bulldogs
Goode and Suggs were teammates at Mississippi State from 1958-60 when Suggs played offensive tackle.
Like Goode, Suggs was drafted by the Houston Oilers in the third round with the 24th pick.
Suggs played 10 years with the Oilers in both the NFL and AFL.
Like Terrell and Goode, Suggs played in the 1962 AFL Championship Game.
Suggs also participated in the first football game at the Alamo Dome in 1967 and played in 132 consecutive games.
In 1967 and 1968, Suggs was named to the Pro Bowl. In 1991, Suggs was named to the Oilers All-Time 30-Year Team. Suggs was also inducted in to the Mississippi State University Sports Hall of Fame in 1989 and the Mississippi Sports Hall Of Fame in 2006.
Leon Gray: New England Patriots and Houston Oilers via Jackson State Tigers
Gray played for the Tigers from 1970-73 as an offensive tackle. At the end of Gray’s senior year, he received several honors. He was first-team All-SWAC and team MVP, and due to his size, he was was nicknamed "Big Dog."
In 1973, Gray was drafted by the Miami Dolphins in the third round with the 78th pick. Gray never played with the Miami. He was cut, but he was picked up by the Patriots.
Gray would play six years in New England being named a Pro Bowler twice (1976 and 1978) and first-team All-Pro once (1978).
In 1979, Gray was traded to the Houston Oilers after holding out in a contract dispute. Gray played three seasons in Houston and was named to two Pro Bowls (1979 and 1981). He was also first-team All-Pro twice (1979 and 1980).
Gray was named to the Patriots' All-1970s Team, and in the 1970s, he teamed with John Hannah to create the best guard and tackle tandem in the NFL.
Frank “Bruiser” Kinard: Brooklyn Dodgers via Ole Miss Rebels
Frank Kinard had the best nickname ever for an offensive line man in “Bruiser” while playing for the Rebels from 1935-37. Playing on Ole Miss’s first bowl team in 1936, a loss to Catholic University in the Orange Bowl in Miami, Kinard was named All-American.
Kinard was the first-ever All-American from Ole Miss in 1936 and 1937 and captain in 1937 as well. Moreover, he was first-team All-SEC in 1936-37 as well. After his college career, Kinard was invited to play in the 1938 Chicago College All-Star Game.
The now-defunct Brooklyn Dodgers selected Kinard in the third round with the 18th pick of the 1938 draft.
In his nine-year pro football career with the Dodgers and the New York Yankees, Kinard was named to the Pro Bowl five times (1939-42) and first-team All-Pro four times (1940 and 1943-46).
Kinard was named to the Ole Miss Athletic Hall of Fame in 1986; he was a charter member of the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame in 1961; and he was elected to the NFL Hall of Fame in 1971.
Kinard is considered on the greatest players in Ole Miss History alongside Charley Conerly and Archie Manning.
Jackie Slater: Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams via Jackson State Tigers
Jackie Slater played at Jackson State with the late great Walter Payton. Slater gained notoriety for his blocking while with the Tigers from 1973-75 and was named All-SWAC each season as well.
Slater was drafted by the Los Angeles Rams in 1976 in the third round with the 76th pick.
While being the first player in NFL history to play for 20 years with one team, Slater was able to play through multiple eras in Rams history.
When he first came into the league, Slater was teammates with Merlin Olsen and Jack Youngblood. The Rams’ Slater was also teammates with Jerome Bettis and Issac Bruce later in his career.
During his time in the NFL, Slater blocked for seven 1,000 yard rushers, played in 259 games, the most ever for an offensive lineman at the time, and started 211 games.
Slater was named to Pro Bowl seven times (1983, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, and 1990), was first-team All-Pro three times (1987, 1988, and 1989), and NFC Lineman of the Year four times (1983, 1986, 1987, and 1989).
After his great pro football career, Slater was elected to the NFL Hall of Fame in 2001. Slater was added to the Rams Ring of Fame and had his number 78 retired.
Mississippi has produced three Hall of Fame offensive linemen so far out of the college ranks. One could argue Jackie Slater is the best to ever dig down in the trenches with the rest of the hogs. With the talent from Mississippi, one could make the case that the best offensive line ever assembled would be players from the Magnolia State.
Next in this series are the best Mississippi tight ends and defensive linemen.
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