Hoyle Granger while playing from Mississippi State in 1964. (Special to the American Press)
Last Modified: Thursday, June 14, 2012 7:38 PM
Oberlin will welcome home one of its heroes this weekend in a big way.
Former Oberlin High running back and two-time NFL Pro Bowler Hoyle Granger will return to Louisiana for a special presentation at Oberlin Elementary School at 2 p.m. Saturday. Granger will receive a key to the city before the celebration continues at Oberlin City Hall, where a commemorative statue will be unveiled on La. 165 highlighting Granger’s football achievements.
Granger earned all-state recognition twice at Oberlin and was named the district’s Outstanding Player for three years. After college at Mississippi State he played for the Houston Oilers from 1966-1970, the New Orleans Saints in 1971 and finally the Oilers for a second time in 1972.
He stands behind only Earl Campbell in Oilers history with 11 100-yard rushing performances and 3,514 all-time rushing yards. He concluded his Oilers career tied with Campbell in most consecutive games with a touchdown at five, and he stands alone at the top in average yards per carry with 4.5.
Oberlin Mayor Rick Smith said he’s expecting between 400-500 people at the presentation, and the community is thrilled to have Granger back in town.
“There’s not a lot that’s going on in our little town, but to have someone of his caliber be from Oberlin, it’s very inspiring,” Smith said. “It’s only appropriate to give recognition to a gentleman like Hoyle Granger. He’s one in a million.”
Granger, 68, has lived in Houston since his retirement, and he said he’s excited about going back this weekend to the town where it all began.
“It’s very special,” he said. “Those people in Oberlin are real good.”
Granger was inducted into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame in 2005. As a senior at Oberlin he capped his high school career by leading the Tigers to the state crown (then in Class B) as the state’s Most Outstanding Player, averaging 12.5 yards per carry.
“I was big enough and fast enough to be a good prospect,” Granger said. “After that I had to take it on my own.”
And Granger did just that.
Granger finished his seven seasons in the NFL with 3,653 rushing yards on 805 carries with 19 touchdowns and Pro Bowl appearances in his two best seasons of 1967 (1,194 yards) and 1968 (848 yards). His career ended rather inauspiciously, however, as he suffered a tough ankle injury.
Granger said the injury prevented him from “performing like I wanted to perform,” and he retired at age 28.
During football season Granger said he occasionally speaks to the Oberlin players and delivers messages of perseverance and pride.
“I tell them to work real hard, minimize your mistakes, hope you get a few breaks and keep on going,” Granger said.
Smith described Granger as “an icon” in Oberlin, not someone who goes searching for recognition.
But Smith said it’s high time for his native city to honor him.
“This is a way to let him know we’re proud of where he’s come from and we’re proud of his accomplishments,” Smith said. “It’s better late than never to give back and show our appreciation. We want everybody to know about Hoyle Granger.”
The people of Oberlin certainly do.