MSU Legends: Hoyle Granger

Hoyle Granger starred in the backfield for Mississippi State from 1963 through 1965. Granger, pronounced GRAHN-JAY, was an All-SEC selection all three seasons. In 1963, Granger's efforts helped lead the Bulldogs to a berth and eventual win in the Liberty Bowl. The 1963 Liberty Bowl marked the first time a Mississippi State team had played before a national television audience.

Granger went on to a successful pro career spending seven years with the Houston Oilers and New Orleans Saints. Hoyle was gracious enough to grant an interview to us about his memories of wearing the Maroon and White.

SR: What made you decide to play for Mississippi State?

HG: We played in a playoff game in high school at Waterpoof, LA. A recruiter from Mississippi State, Henry Lee Parker, came down and he was recruiting the guy from Waterproof. I was a junior then. After we beat Waterproof pretty bad, (Coach Parker) came into the locker room to visit with us and stuff. He signed our Quarterback who was a senior, Ray Reed. He said, "I will take the whole backfield, if I can get them." (Laughs)

We had a pretty good high school football team. We were a small school, but the four years I was there we only lost two or three ball games. Henry Lee came in there and recruited Ray Reed and I had offers from LSU and a bunch of other people. I went and visited Starkville and the people were real friendly. I liked it up there. I like the people in Mississippi. They treated me well. I was impressed.

SR: Looking back over your college career, which games really stand out?

HG: Beating Ole Miss. (Laughs) Beating Ole Miss and LSU.

SR: Being from Louisiana, surely you had a soft place in your heart for LSU.

HG: I tell you the longer I stayed in Mississippi, I wanted to beat Ole Miss just as bad as I wanted to beat LSU. I know how the rivalry is now and back then it was pretty much the same way. We beat LSU my sophomore year and I think we beat Ole Miss my junior year on national TV. I think it was the first time we had beaten them in like eighteen years. I still have pictures of it.

Editor's note: The 1964 20-17 MSU win over Ole Miss was the first win for MSU in the series since 1946. MSU was 0-14-3 in the Egg Bowl between wins. In 1963, MSU tied eventual SEC Champion Ole Miss and ended the season ranked #11 in the national polls.

SR: What do you recall as your better on-the-field performances?

HG: My good games were against Alabama. We never could beat them, but I had some great games against them and Auburn. We beat Auburn in Jackson my sophomore year when they were ranked real high in the nation. I don't think I had any real great games against Ole Miss or LSU.

SR: One thing I have heard about you is that you had a reputation in college of being a person that other people didn't want to mess with.

HG: (Laughs) I don't know about that. It's a funny deal. I am a Cajun, you can tell by my accent. I didn't know I had an accent until I went to Mississippi. I thought the people in Mississippi had an accent. (Laughs) I guess I kind of ran around with some rowdy crowds, but back in those days you kind of had to be that way. Well, I guess I shouldn't say that. You didn't have to be that way, but that is the way I was. I wasn't a bad guy. (Laughs)

SR: Of course you had a nice career in the NFL. What have you done for yourself since then?

HG: Well, I have been in the oilfield for thirty-two years. My oldest son played golf for UL which used to be USL (University of Southwestern Louisiana). My youngest son played football for Delta State.

SR: How closely do you follow the program and what are your impressions of football at Mississippi State?

HG: I played in the State alumni golf tournament this spring. I was really impressed with Coach Croom. He said some good things up there. He is a straight shooter or seems to be from the little bit that I know. You have to be able to recruit and that is a tough duty and you have to win. The more you win the more good players you get up there. When you lose you won't get the good players. He looks like he is doing some real good things up there.

Sometimes you get some players who were good players in high school and you make a mistake. When I was in Starkville we had a Quarterback on the team who was All-State in Mississippi, but when he got in college he couldn't play a lick. Those things happen. You might get walk-ons that turn out to be good players. You just never know.

SR: Do you stay in touch with any of your teammates from MSU?

HG: Not a bunch. Me and Ode Burrell talk a little bit. I see Johnny Baker some. One time when I was with the Houston Oilers we had five or six guys there from State and they were all starters.

Any tales from the sidelines or locker room that people would find interesting?

HG: (Laughs) I don't know. It was a lot of fun playing for State. It was big-time football. I know it's a lot bigger now. It's bigger because of TV. Playing for the Bulldogs was a lot of fun in Jackson, MS or Starkville. When those cowbells rang it would send chills down your spine. It was a great deal and I am glad I went there.

Hoyle Granger had 1,534 yards on 350 carries during his career at MSU. He was drafted by the Houston Oilers as a fullback and played in the Pro Bowl in 1967 and 1968. Granger is second only to Earl Campbell on the Oilers' All-Time career rushing list. In 2005, Hoyle was inducted into the Louisiana Sports Writer's Hall of Fame.


Steve Robertson is a staff member of Dawgs' Bite, Powered by GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing therobertsonreport@hotmail.com.

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