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Mississippi’s Greatest Athletes: Brookhaven’s Ralph ‘Catfish’ Smith

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Ralph “Catfish” Smith, one of the great offensive and defensive ends in Ole Miss history, was first a star at Brookhaven High School, where he was teammates with fellow Hall of Famer Lance Alworth. Smith earned 15 athletic letters at Brookhaven, including football, basketball, baseball and track.

Ralph "Catfish" Smith Photo courtesy of Mississippi's Greatest Athletes Book
Ralph “Catfish” Smith
Photo courtesy of Mississippi’s Greatest Athletes Book

With Smith and Alworth leading the way, Brookhaven won Big Eight Conference football titles in 1955 and 1957 and Smith made not only All-State, but All-South and All- American. At Ole Miss, Smith was a two-way end on Ole Miss varsity teams that won 29 games, lost 3 and tied one, and played in two Sugar Bowls and a Cotton Bowl. He led Ole Miss in both receiving on offense and hits behind the line of scrimmage on defense in his senior season.

At Ole Miss, Smith was a two-way end on Ole Miss varsity teams that won 29 games, lost 3 and tied one, and played in two Sugar Bowls and a Cotton Bowl. He led Ole Miss in both receiving on offense and hits behind the line of scrimmage on defense in his senior season.

He played tight end and defensive end for three different teams in the NFL and was part of NFL Eastern Conference championship teams with Philadelphia in 1965 and Cleveland in 1968. He finished his career with the Atlanta Falcons in 1969.

Fellow Hall of Famer Jimmie McDowell nicknamed Smith “Catfish,” likening Smith to Vernon “Catfish” Smith, who had earlier starred at Georgia.


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Courtesy of Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum director Rick Cleveland, author of Mississippi’s Greatest Athletes. Cleveland can be reached at rcleveland@msfame.com.

Adam Brown
Adam Brown
Sports Editor

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