On Friday, Nov. 15 the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference will host the SIAC Football Legends Symposium, in conjunction with the SIAC Centennial Football Championship.
The symposium will feature a panel of SIAC legends, which include Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee Rayfield Wright (Fort Valley State), Super Bowl Champions Nick Harper (Fort Valley State) and Tyrone Poole (Fort Valley State), along with former All-Pro Greg Lloyd (Fort Valley State) and veteran Frank Walker (Tuskegee). The event will take place on the campus of Morehouse College’s Leadership building at 4 p.m.
“We are honored and privileged to host a group of SIAC football alumni who together represent and embody the best traditions of our conference during the past 100 years,” said SIAC Commissioner Gregory Moore. “I am certain that our student-athletes will gain invaluable insights from these men when they share their respective paths from the SIAC to NFL stardom.”
Each NFL legend will also serve as honorary captains for the SIAC Football Championship game played on the following day on Saturday, November 16 at Lakewood Stadium at 7 p.m.
Tickets will be $10 and can be reserved by calling the SIAC office (404) 221-1041.
SIAC NFL Legends Biographies
Rayfield Wright, Offensive Lineman, Fort Valley State
At Fort Valley State University, Wright was an All-American and three-time All-SIAC selection on the gridiron. In addition, he also was a force to be reckon with on the hardwood, averaging 28 points per game, while even being selected as a draft pick of the Cincinnati Royals when he was a senior. In the same year, ironically, the Dallas Cowboys selected Wright in the seventh round of the 1967 draft.
While making the team was a long-shot, the 6-foot-8 offensive lineman from Griffin, Ga., not only made the Dallas Cowboys team, but was a catalyst to the team’s success during the 1970s. As one of teh premier blockers in the NFL, Wright went on to play 13 seasons, while winning two Super Bowls with Dallas. Wright also was a six-time Pro Bowl Selection with the team.
Upon his retirement, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2006, as well as being named to the NFL’s 1970 All-Decade team in 1970.
Greg Lloyd, Outside Linebacker, Fort Valley State
An All-American, three-time All-SIAC selection, and SIAC Defensive Player of the Year at Fort Valley State University, Greg Lloyd was known as one of the most fierce pass rushers in the NFL during the 1990’s for the Pittsburgh Steelers. A sixth-round selection in 1987, Lloyd was a five time All-Pro, making the Pro Bowl five times during his career.
The Miami native had a banner year in 1994, as he was named AFC Defensive Player of the Year after finishing the season with a career-high 10 sacks, 88 tackles, and one interception. In the same season, he led Pittsburgh to a win in the AFC Championship game over the Indianapolis Colts, which led to a trip to the Super Bowl.
Lloyd, played 147 games in 13 seasons mostly with the Steelers, while playing his last season with the Carolina Panthers. He finished with 54.5 sacks and 11 interceptions and remains today one of Pittsburgh’s top defensive players in the franchise’s rich history.
Nick Harper, Cornerback, Fort Valley State
A 1999 First Team All-SIAC selection at cornerback, while playing at Fort Valley State, Harper signed with the Indianapolis Colts in 2001 after playing one season with the Hamilton TigerCats of the Canadian Football League. Known for his speed and adroit cover skills, Harper eventually become the full time starter with the Colts and played a significant role during Indianapolis’ successful reign in the 2000’s under legendary head coach Tony Dungy. The run included the Colts triumph in 2006, where the Colts defeated the Chicago Bears in the first Super Bowl that featured two black head coach for the first time in NFL history.
After departing from the Colts in 2007, Harper finished his career with the Tennessee Titans, where he finished his career in 2010. In all, the Milledgeville, GA native played 10 seasons and completed his career with 625 tackles, 88 pass deflections, and 21 interceptions.
Tyrone Poole, Defensive Back, Fort Valley State
Poole is native of Lagrange, Georgia where he graduated from Lagrange High School as a two-sport standout in both football and track and field. Following his graduation, Poole received a scholarship to play football and run track at Fort Valley State University.
As a member of the Wildcats football team, Poole helped lead the Wildcats to two Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championships and was a All-SIAC First Team selection during his junior season in 1993 and 1994. In addition, he was named SIAC Defensive Player of the Year in 1994 and was named All-American by the Associated Press and the American Football Coaches Association. In his remarkable senior year, Poole was credited for not allowing any opposing receiver catch a pass against him.
Following his storied career at Fort Valley State, Poole became the first SIAC defensive back to be selected in the first round when the Carolina Panthers selected the cornerback with the 22nd overall in the 1995 NFL Draft. Making an immediate impact for Carolina as the franchise’s second draft pick, Poole was named to the NFL’s All-Rookie Team.
During his 14-year NFL career he started 112 games, made 406 tackles to match his 18 interceptions. Poole was recently inducted into the Division II Football Hall of Fame as the second Wildcat, joining Greg Lloyd in 2001.
Frank Walker, Defensive Back, Tuskegee
Walker was one of the premier shutdown cornerbacks in the SIAC at Tuskegee in the early 2000’s. He was one of four Golden Tiger cornerbacks selected in the NFL draft in a three year span. While at Tuskegee, Walker allowed few passes his way and was rated as one of the top defensive backs in Division II.
In 2003, Walker, a native of Tuskegee, Ala, was drafted in the sixth round by the New York Giants. As a rookie, Walker cracked into the lineup, appearing in 14 out of 16 games and would continue to play a significant role in the Giants secondary.
For his career Walker played eight years with five different teams (New York, Green Bay Packers, Baltimore Ravens, Minnesota Vikings, and Dallas Cowboys) and finished his career with 181 tackles and nine interceptions.