Skip to main content

Jerry Rice: HBCUs 'We Have Always Proven Ourselves'

Pro Football Hall of Fame wide receiver is confident future student-athletes will succeed in attending an HBCU and playing for their football programs.

Pro Football Hall of Fame wide receiver Jerry Rice is confident future student-athletes will succeed in attending an HBCU and playing for their football programs.

Rice at MVSU

HBCU Hall of Fame inductees like Jerry Rice (MVSU), Walter Payton (Jackson State), Arenas Williams (Southern), Michael Strahan (Texas Southern), and Harold Carmichael (Southern) destroy the naysayers' theory that black colleges cannot produce elite talent. 

Young students and student-athletes like Travis Hunter decided to attend an HBCU with great thought and care. Enrollments are up across the board at black colleges and universities. Texas Southern recorded its largest first-year class in the institution's history.

Jerry Rice, 59, addressed the negativity in our interview by saying, "I feel like HBCUs we all have always had to prove ourselves." He went on," Because a lot of people questioned why I went to Mississippi Valley State University. But look what happened."  

Jerry Rice - SI Cover
Scroll to Continue

Read More

What happened was that Rice had an outstanding football career with numerous receiving records in college and professionally, Super Bowl Championships, and received College Football Hall of Fame and Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinement. He's considered the greatest wide receiver ever to play football.  

Not only did a young man from Starkville attend a small college in Itta Bena, Mississippi, but he propelled the football program to set offensive records and averaged over 60 points per game in his senior campaign.

Willie Totten and Jerry Rice

For anyone teetering on whether or not they should attend an HBCU, read Rice's final thought on the topic. "We have all always proven ourselves. Just the opportunity for these players going to that school or going to HBCU. It's going to be an experience of a lifetime. You're never going to forget it. But you are also going to be able to get to the next level and play the game."

In 1984, Rice set NCAA Division II records at Mississippi Valley State with 27 touchdowns, 112 receptions, and 1845 receiving yards in a single season. By the way, he broke his own records from the previous season.

Hall of Fame head coach Bill Walsh selected Rice as the sixteenth overall pick in the first round for the San Francisco 49ers in the 1985 NFL Draft. He went on to win three Super Bowls with the Niners, was twice voted the NFL Offensive Player of the Year (1987, 1993), earned ten All-Pro and thirteen Pro Bowl selections, led the NFL in receiving yards six times, and was honored to become a member of the NFL 100th Anniversary All-Time Team.