USA Today features Jimmy Raye as trailblazer
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USA Today features Jimmy Raye as trailblazer

Jarrett Bell's article in USA Today's Special Edition for Black History Month

Photo: Jimmy Raye with the San Francisco 49ers

Many thanks to USA Today ’s NFL writer Jarrett Bell for his excellent story on Jimmy Raye in the USA Today’s Special Edition for Black History Month.

Click here: USA Today on-line version of Jimmy Raye feature written by USA Today writer Jarrett Bell.

The story, with photos of Raye at his home in Pinehurst, appears on pages 111 and 112 in the issue dated Feb. 2.

Raye attended segregated E.E. Smith High in Fayetteville,N.C., when he was recruited to ride Michigan State head coach Duffy Daugherty’s Underground Railroad. He was the South’s first black quarterback to win a national title on the Spartans’ 1966 team.

He followed his playing days as a trail blazer among college and NFL black coaches. He was among the first black NFL assistants in 1977 with the San Francisco 49ers and first black coordinators in1983 as the Los Angeles Rams’ offensive coordinator on John Robinson’s staff.

Below are quotes from the USA Today article from Raye and Tony Dungy.

On black players from the segregated South such as Carl Eller that inspired Raye to migrate North:
“When those players went to the white schools,that was really a big deal,” Raye said. “Those moments were huge, but they were so rare.”
On the chance to attend a Big Ten school:
“Education was at the forefront of everything,”Raye said. “In order to better our situation, education was always the best vehicle. That’s the lesson that you want to continue to be heard.”
Dungy on Raye as an inspiration watching him play quarterback at Michigan State:
“I would throw the football in the backyard saying I was Jimmy Raye,” Dungy said. “Then seven years later, Jimmy is recruiting me to come to Michigan State.”

A premise of the “Raye of Light” is placing the proper credit for the integration of college football with the ground-breaking roles played by Michigan State, Jimmy Raye and Duffy Daugherty.

Also check out Chicago Tribune and Sherman Report featuring Raye of Light.


Tom Shanahan

Tom Shanahan

Tom Shanahan is an award-winning sportswriter and the author of "Raye of Light". Tom has also written for the San Diego Union-Tribune, Voice of San Diego,,, and Gameday Central. He has won multiple first-place awards from the San Diego Press Club and first place from the Copley News Service Ring of Truth Awards. The National Football Foundation/San Diego Chapter presented him its Distinguished American Award in 2003 and USA Track and Field’s San Diego Chapter its President’s Award in 2000.

Raye of Light: Jimmy Raye, Duffy Daugherty, the integration of college football and the 1965-66 Michigan State Spartans

By Tom Shanahan; Foreword by Tony Dungy; August Publications

Purchase Raye of Light from Barnes and Noble, or from August Publishing.

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