Wednesday, September 27, 2023


JOHN COFIELD'S 'OXFORD & OLE MISS' –– GENTLE BENRobert Jerry “Ben” Williams was the first black football player at The University of Mississippi. A defensive lineman from 1972-1975, he thrilled fans with his athletic abilities, becoming a three-time All-SEC performer recognized with a number of awards.
Williams was selected as an All-American in 1975, as well as Ole Miss team captain. But his popularity on the Oxford campus was not limited to the playing field.
Affectionately known as “Gentle Ben,” he continued to add to his list of “firsts” at Ole Miss. In 1975, he was voted Colonel Reb, the University’s highest elective honor. In 1976, Ben was the first black athlete from The University of Mississippi to be drafted to the NFL.
Williams went on to a ten-year career with the Buffalo Bills and was chosed as an All-Pro several times. In 1992, he endowed the Ben Williams Minority Scholarship Fund at Ole Miss.
In 1997, Ben Williams was the first African-American from Ole Miss to be inducted into the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and is a member of the Ole Miss Team of the Century.