Ole Miss announced Thursday that it will retire No. 74 when the Rebels take on Mississippi State in the annual Egg Bowl on Nov. 24.
Williams was the first black player to play a football game at Ole Miss and was one of the first to be signed to a scholarship. Affectionately known as “Mr. Gentle” during his playing days, Williams becomes the fourth player in show history to have his number retired, joining Archie Manning (18), Chucky Mullins (38), and Eli Manning (10).
While at Ole Miss, Williams was a three-time All-SEC selection, a four-year letter winner, and a member of the Rebels’ Team of the Century. He still holds the program record for career sacks (37) as well as the single-season sack mark (18).
In addition to his 377 career tackles during his time on the show, Williams was also voted by the student body for what is now known as Mr. Ole Miss. Keith Carter, vice chancellor for athletics at Ole Miss, said it’s an honor to recognize Williams and his “immense impact” on the program.
“Few people in the history of our university have opened more doors for others than Ben [Williams]”, Carter wrote in a statement. “In a year when our campus celebrates 60 years of integration, the athletic department is pleased to forever honor Ben, the player and the person, for breaking down walls in our football program and helping make Ole Miss what it is.” is today”.
After his stellar career at Ole Miss, the Bills drafted Williams in the third round of the 1976 NFL draft, and he became the first black Ole Miss athlete selected in the draft. Williams spent 10 years in Buffalo, where he played in 147 games and finished his career as the franchise leader in sacks (45.5) and was named to the Bills’ 50 Greatest Players of All Time list.
He was inducted into the Ole Miss Sports Hall of Fame in 1993 and the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame in 1997.
More college football coverage: