Local Legends Named to Hall of Fame

DALLAS, May 1, 2007 - Ron Johnson, chairman of The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame (NFF), announced the Hall of Fame Divisional Class for 2007, which considers players and coaches from the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision (formerly I-AA), Divisions II, III, and the NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) for induction.

This year's class will be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame during Enshrinement Ceremonies July 19-21, in South Bend, Ind. The class includes two local standouts former FAMU Head Coach Billy Joe and former VSU Linebacker Jesse Tuggle.

Jessie Tuggle
Valdosta State University (Ga.)
Linebacker, 1983-86

A highly touted defensive force, Valdosta State's Jessie Tuggle redefined the linebacker position in the Gulf South Conference en route to prolific collegiate and professional careers.

A First Team All-America selection, Tuggle was a three-time All-Conference pick and named the Gulf South Conference's Defensive Player of the Year in 1986. He holds the school record for most tackles in a career (340) and was a two-time recipient of the Blazers' Hugh C. Bailey Player of the Year award.

Tuggle's No. 88 was retired in 1993 by VSU, where he was also inducted into the Athletic Hall of Fame in 1997 and named Distinguished Alumnus in 2002. Beloved by his alma mater, the school's workout facility was named the Jessie Tuggle Strength & Fitness Complex in his honor.

"The Hammer" joined the Atlanta Falcons in 1987 as an undrafted free agent, and during his 13 years with the club, he made five NFL Pro Bowl appearances and finished his career with 2,065 tackles - the most in team history. Tuggle led the NFL in tackles in 1990 and '91, while maintaining 12 consecutive 100-tackle seasons. Also a leader off the playing field, the Jessie Tuggle Humanitarian Award is given annually to a Falcon player who displays dedication to the community.

Coach William "Billy" Joe
Florida A&M (1994-2004), Central State University (Ohio) (1981-93),
Cheyney University (Pa.) (1972-78)
Head Coach, 237-108-4, .685

Few coaches can match the unparalleled gridiron success of William "Billy" Joe's storied career. Having captured seven National Black College Football Championships and two NAIA national titles, he enters the College Football Hall of Fame as one of the most highly decorated black college football coaches in history.

Joe's 237 career victories place him fourth on the Football Championship Subdivision's all-time winningest coaches ranks and position him second only to the legendary Eddie Robinson in the black college football standings.

At Florida A&M, he led the Rattlers to an unprecedented five Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) titles, while garnering three of the conference's Coach of the Year accolades. He also spent ten consecutive seasons in the NAIA playoffs while at Central State. Throughout his 31 years as a head coach, Joe compiled 26 winning seasons and coached five Black College National Players of the Year.

Highly respected among his peers, he served as vice president of the American Football Coaches Association in 1993 and was elected president of the organization in 1995.


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