College Football Hall of Fame Welcomes 3 African-American QBs

By Lloyd Vance
Updated: July 25, 2007

PHILADELPHIA — It has been a long time coming, but recently the journey of the African American quarterback has come full circle to the point that the group is being celebrated for their lifetime accomplishments.

In August of 2006 the fans of the African American quarterback celebrated as Warren Moon became the first African American quarterback inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame and in February of 2007 the book “Third and a Mile” by William C. Rhoden gave a first hand telling of the journey through the words of The Field Generals and others.

The weekend of July 21st marked another chance to celebrate the journey of the black quarterback as the College Football Hall of Fame welcomed a class of 20 players including three former standout African American college quarterbacks (Joe “Tarzan” Kendall, Tracy Ham, and Charlie Ward) will be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.

To me it is an incredible honor for all three men, but I am extremely happy to see legendary quarterback the late Joe “Tarzan” Kendall receive the recognition he greatly deserves. Kendall probably is the most unsung pioneer of HBCU football. When I talk with older African American coaches and fans they always point to Joe Kendall as one of the greatest passers ever.

He was known as the HBCU’s version of Slingin’ Sammy Baugh, because he could throw the ball with the precision of a surgeon at a time when running the ball was the focal point of the game. Nicknamed “Tarzan” for his athletic prowess and he dominated black college football in the 1930s.

He led Kentucky State to a national black college championship in 1934 and led the KYSU Thorobreds to a 1935 Orange Blossom Classic victory over Florida A&M. He had an impressive 29-7-3 overall record during his years at KYSU and he was a three-time First Team All-America selection from 1934-36 by the Pittsburgh Courier.

Kendall is the first person from Kentucky State University to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. He was also inducted into the Kentucky State Athletics Hall of Fame in 1975. Following his playing days, Kendall served as a coach, teacher and school principal and he was rewarded for his contributions as a recreational director in Owensboro, Ky by having a park named in his honor.

The trio will now join past African American quarterbacks in the College Football Hall of Fame:

Brad Calip, Class of ’03, East Central 1981-1984 -

Harold Davis, Class of ’06, Westminster (Pa.) 1953-56

Willie Totten, Class of ’05, Miss. Valley 1982-1985

Andre Ware, Class of ’04, Houston 1987-1989

Doug Williams, Class of ’01, Grambling 1974-1977.

TRACY HAM

A consummate leader, quarterback Tracy Ham led Georgia Southern to two consecutive Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) national titles in 1985 and ’86 — all within the school’s first three years at the FCS level.

Ham, who currently holds 20-game, season and career records and 21 playoff game records, ranks first in all-time career passing yards and total offense at the school. He is also GSU’s career leader in passing touchdowns. A versatile threat, Ham racked up over 3,000 career rushing yards, placing him sixth in the Eagles’ all-time rushing ranks.

Named First Team All-America in 1986, Ham’s incredible athleticism landed him in the nation’s Top 20 in passing efficiency, scoring, total offense and rushing during his senior campaign. He was drafted by the Los Angeles Rams in the 1987 NFL Draft and went on to play 13 successful seasons in the Canadian Football League, including two Grey Cups and league MVP laurels in 1989.

Active in the community, Ham has served as a deacon at Whitesville Baptist Church since 1998 and acted as a spokesperson for numerous charities.

JOE “TARZAN” KENDALL

Nicknamed “Tarzan” for his athletic prowess, Joe Kendall dominated black college football in the 1930s while leading Kentucky State to a national championship in 1934.

Kendall led the Thorobreds to a 1935 Orange Blossom Classic victory over Florida A&M en route to an impressive 29-7-3 overall record during his playing years.

A three-time First Team All-America selection from 1934-36 by the Pittsburgh Courier, Kendall is the first person in KSU history to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. He was inducted into the Kentucky State Athletics Hall of Fame in 1975.

Following his player career, Kendall served as a coach, teacher and school principal. As a result of his significant contributions as a recreational director in Owensboro, Ky., a park was named in his honor.

* Deceased

CHARLIE WARD

A truly amazing athlete, Charlie Ward is one of the finest all-around performers in the Hall of Fame roster. In his freshman season, Ward played little quarterback, as he was the Florida State punter. He then sat out the 1990 season while he became the starting point guard on the FSU basketball team. As a sophomore, he was still experiencing more success on the basketball court. As a quarterback he only attempted nine passes and his athletic skills were even used at wide receiver.

In 1992, Ward finally received an opportunity at quarterback. He led the Seminoles to an ACC title, Orange Bowl win and was named as the Conference Player of the Year. He became a second team All-America, was a finalist for the O’Brien Award, and finished sixth in the Heisman voting. His senior year saw Ward lead FSU to its first national championship as he captured the Heisman Trophy and the Maxwell, Camp and O’Brien awards.

At the time, his victory margin in the Heisman vote was the largest ever. In that 1993 season he threw 27 scoring passes with only four being intercepted. While highly desired by the pros, he cast his lot with basketball enjoying an 11season career in the National Basketball Association. Ward was such a complete athlete that he was also drafted in the major league baseball draft even though he did not play college baseball. While at FSU he served as student body vice president.