DALLAS, Texas – The Football Writers Association of America has named Mississippi Valley State’s Jerry Rice to its 75th Anniversary All-America Team, celebrating the association’s All-America teams from near the end of World War II through the 2014 season. The FWAA, which was founded in 1941, has picked an annual All-America team since the 1944 season, making it the second longest continuously selected team in major college football.
Rice attended Mississippi Valley State University from 1981 to 1984. He became a standout receiver and acquired the nickname “World”, because there wasn’t a ball in the world he couldn’t catch. Statistics from his college career are sparse, but the College Football Hall of Fame website claims that Rice, as a sophomore in 1982, caught 66 passes for 1,133 yards and 7 touchdowns. That was his first season playing with redshirt freshman quarterback Willie Totten, nicknamed “Satellite”. Together, Totten and Rice would become known as “The Satellite Express” and set numerous NCAA records in the spread offense of coach Archie Cooley, nicknamed “The Gunslinger.”
Rice had a record-setting 1983 campaign, including NCAA marks for receptions (102) and receiving yards (1,450) and being named first-team Division I-AA All-America. He also set a single-game NCAA record by catching 24 passes against Southern University. As a senior in 1984, he broke his own Division I-AA records for receptions (112) and receiving yards (1,845). His 27 touchdown receptions in that 1984 season set the NCAA mark for all divisions.
The 1984 season was also memorable for MVSU as the pass-happy Delta Devils attracted national attention, scoring 628 points (an average of more than 59 per game). After an August practice experiment, Cooley had Totten call all the plays at the line of scrimmage without a huddle. The result was even more staggering offensive numbers. Rice caught 17 passes for 199 yards against Southern, 17 for 294 against Kentucky State and 15 for 285 against Jackson State, the first time MVSU beat them since 1954. Rice scored 5 TDs twice that year. He finished his career with 301 catches for 4,693 yards and 50 touchdowns (some sources have the numbers as 310, 4,856 and 51); his NCAA record for total career touchdown receptions stood until 2006, when University of New Hampshire wide receiver David Ball recorded his 51st career receiving touchdown.
Rice was named to every All-American team (including the AP squad) and finished ninth in Heisman Trophy balloting in 1984. In the Blue Gray Classic all-star game played on Christmas Day, he earned MVP honors. Rice wore No. 88 in college, but he switched to No. 80 in the pros.
In the spring of 1999, the school renamed its football stadium from Magnolia Stadium to Rice-Totten Stadium in honor of Rice and Totten. Rice was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2006 and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2010.