One of Jerry Stovall’s grandsons kept noticing the shiny new ring his grandfather has worn since his College Football Hall of Fame induction in December.
“Papa, are you ever going to take that ring off?” he asked.
“Son, I have not,” Stovall told him. “And I may never.”
Stovall, who received the ring at the National Football Foundation’s annual awards dinner in New York, will add a navy College Football Hall of Fame blazer to his collection when the former LSU halfback attends the 2011 enshrinement festivities next weekend in South Bend, Ind.
Stovall, the 1962 Heisman Trophy runner-up, is the 12th LSU player or coach to enter college football’s most elite fraternity. He is part of an induction class that includes, among others, Barry Alvarez, Desmond Howard, Gene Stallings and Pat Tillman, who was honored posthumously.
A cookout, a parade and a number of other activities lead into Saturday night’s enshrinement show.
“I’m just proud to be part of something that’s very, very special and to represent all the young men that played with me and coached me in college,” Stovall said. “I hope they feel like they get to go right along with me, because that’s certainly the intent.”
Stovall made his mark at LSU as one of the game’s great all-around talents.
He rushed for 1,081 yards and 13 touchdowns in his three seasons, adding 452 receiving yards. He intercepted seven passes on defense. He punted 165 times for 6,477 career yards and gained nearly 700 yards as a return man.
The West Monroe native led LSU to the Southeastern Conference championship in 1961, a year before finishing 89 points behind Oregon State quarterback Terry Baker in the Heisman Trophy voting.
His trip to the College Football Hall of Fame comes two years after Billy Cannon, LSU’s only Heisman winner, received the same honor.
“When you consider how many folks have gone before and how few are at that level and have been inducted, you sit back and you say ‘wow,’” Stovall said. “It has been a wonderful, wonderful experience, and I’m very grateful to the good Lord for letting me experience it.”
The second pick of the 1963 draft, Stovall played nine seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals in the NFL, earning All-Pro recognition twice.
Years later, he returned to LSU as head coach, compiling a 22-21-2 record from 1980-83.
Stovall, 70, has spent the past 17 years as the president/CEO of the Baton Rouge Area Sports Foundation. He and his wife, Judy, have two children, Jay and Jodi, and five grandchildren.
“You know as well as I do you wouldn’t be where you are if it were not for many others. You’ve walked on their shoulders,” Stovall said. “I will tell you very candidly that I’ve walked on the shoulders of an awful lot of very good people that have made this whole experience possible.”
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