Former Jackson State Star James Houston IV Reflects On Playing At The Vet For The SWAC Football Championship Title

Houston's pick-six in the SWAC Championship was a game-changing moment at The Vet!
James Houston IV
James Houston IV / Credit: WAPT News

HOUSTON - Before hosting his annual James Houston IV Youth Football Camp in Jackson, Mississippi, on June 23, he reflected on one of his most memorable games at Jackson State — the 2021 SWAC Football Championship Game.

"The Vet was packed up, man, all the way," Houston told WAPT News about playing in Veterans Memorial Stadium in the game. "And, it was just it was a special feeling. I don't think I've ever been in a game like that or felt a game like that. I played in probably one of the best environments of college football in The Swamp [Florida]. And The Vet honestly is right is right there, man. It's right there when it's packed up, and it's going. It's right there next to The Swamp."

The contest was a thrilling display of competitive spirit, with the Jackson State Tigers (11-1) and Prairie View Panthers (7-5) engaging in a fierce 'Cat-On-Cat' battle at The Vet. For many, it was among the most memorable championship games in HBCU football history.

James Houston
Jackson State defensive lineman Antwan Owens (99) and linebacker James Houston (41) pressure South Carolina State wide receiver Shaquan Davis (1) as he passes during the Celebration Bowl in Atlanta, Ga., on Saturday December 18, 2021. Cb17 / Mickey Welsh / Advertiser / USA TODAY

The Tigers were holding a slim 13-10 lead coming out of halftime. Little did Prairie View realize, the Tigers' James Houston IV, aka "The Problem," was lurking and waiting to strike. The Panthers were stuck on their 12-yard line after Darius Campbell fielded a 36-yard punt from Lane McGregor. One play and six seconds later, Houston changed the game.

I recall watching from the pressbox as Jackson State sent pressure, forcing Jawon Pass out of the pocket. The senior quarterback entered the endzone, threw an errant pass, and James Houston IV intercepted it, running five yards to score a pick-six touchdown.

Ol' Mo was working for the home team as the Jackson State fans' cheers reverberated out of The Vet, across campus, and into downtown Jackson. The stadium was rocking as the Sonic Boom of the South played "JSU. Rock You!" It was a scene out of a movie...thanks to James Houston and a ferocious J-State defense.

James Houston
Detroit Lions linebacker James Houston (59) celebrates a sack of Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) during the second half at Ford Field in Detroit on Thursday, Nov. 24, 2022. / Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK

The heroes were the 2021 SWAC Newcomer of the Year, fellow defensive star Aubrey Miller, and the Tigers' defense, which dominated the second half. They shut down Prairie View A&M's offense in the second half to decisively win the 2021 SWAC Football Championship, 27-10.

Houston proved he was not only a "playmaker," but also a "game-changer." A few months later, James was drafted by the Detroit Lions in the sixth round of the 2021 NFL Draft. He missed the final roster cut but spent time on the practice squad, gaining knowledge of the game. On Thanksgiving day, Houston immediately changed the Lions' defensive line dynamic. In his professional debut, he sacked Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen twice and forced a fumble on special teams that Turkey Day.

Houston set several NFL records as a rookie and played in the playoffs and NFC Championship Game against the San Francisco 49ers. That is one of the reasons why James Houston is considered an HBCU legend. Hopefully, he'll hoist the Lombardi Trophy one day in the NFL.

The Youth Football Camp check-in will be at 8:00 AM at 34 Walter Payton Drive in Jackson, Mississippi.


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Kyle T. Mosley

KYLE T. MOSLEY

I am Kyle T. Mosley, the Founder, Managing Editor, and Chief Reporter for the HBCU Legends, Saints News Network, and Pelicans Scoop on FanNation a Sports Illustrated team channel since October 2019.  Morehouse Alum, McDonogh #35 Roneagles (NOLA), Drum Major of the Tenacious Four.  My Father, Mother, Grandmother, Aunts and Uncles were HBCU graduates! Host of "Blow the Whistle" HBCU Legends, "The Quad" with Coach Steward, and "Bayou Blitz" Podcasts. Radio/Media Appearances:  WWL AM/FM Radio in New Orleans (Mike Detillier/Bobby Hebert),  KCOH AM 1230 in Houston (Ralph Cooper), WBOK AM in New Orleans (Reggie Flood/Ro Brown), and 103.7FM "The Game" (Jordy Hultberg/Clint Domingue), College Kickoff Unlimited (Emory Hunt), Jeff Lightsly Show, and Offscript TV on YouTube. Television Appearance: Fox26 in Houston on The Isiah Carey Factor, College Kickoff Unlimited (Emory Hunt). My Notable Interviews:  Byron Allen (Media Mogul), Deion Sanders (Jackson State University, Head Coach), Tomekia Reed (Jackson State Lady Tigers Basketball Coach), Taylor Rooks (NBA Reporter), Swin Cash (VP of Basketball - New Orlean Pelicans), Demario and Tamala Davis (NFL Player), Jerry Rice (Hall of Famer), Doug Williams (HBCU & NFL Legend), Emmitt Smith (Hall of Famer), James "Shack" Harris (HBCU & NFL Legend), Cris Carter (Hall of Famer), Solomon Wilcots (SiriusXM NFL Host), Steve Wyche (NFL Network), Jim Trotter (NFL Network), Travis Williams (Founder of HBCU All-Stars, LLC), Malcolm Jenkins (NFL Player), Cam Jordan (NFL), Demario Davis (NFL), Allan Houston (NBA All-Star), Drew Brees (Former NFL QB), Deuce McAllister (Former NFL RB), Willie Roaf (NFL Hall of Fame), Jim Everett (Former NFL Player), Quinn Early (Former NFL Player), Dr. Reef (NFL Players' Trainer Specialist), Nataria Holloway (VP of the NFL). I am building a new team of journalists, podcasters, videographers, and interns.  For media requests, interviews, or interest in joining HBCU Legends, please contact me at kmosley@hbcusi.com. Follow me: