For four seasons at Maryland State College and three years with the New York Jets, Emerson Boozer and Earl Christy were teammates and friends. They lived in the same apartment complex as rookies and Christy even sold Boozer his Great Dane when they were in New York.
Looking back on their seven years together, Christy remembered Boozer, the Hawks' powerful, record-breaking halfback, as an accessible star that was friendly to everyone … so long as any encounters took place off the field.
"I never really saw him angry," Christy recalled. "Except when he was on the football field running over people."
Boozer's standout career at the historically black college, now known as the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, will be memorialized Saturday during the College Football Hall of Fame's induction ceremonies in South Bend, Ind.
During his four-year career at Maryland State, Boozer averaged 6.78 yards per carry while rushing for 2,537 yards and 22 touchdowns. His performance earned him two first-team All-American selections by The Pittsburgh Courier and two All-Conference selections in the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association.
After college, Boozer was selected in the sixth round of the NFL draft by the Jets, beginning a 10-year stay with the team. Going into his first NFL locker room, Boozer had two familiar faces by his side in Christy and Johnny Sample, another Maryland State graduate. Christy remembered Boozer as a hard runner in the mold of Earl Campbell and Walter Payton.
"I had never seen a guy with balance like him. He could hit a hole and spin," Christy said. "When you talk about coming from a small college, Emerson Boozer was one of the greatest players to come out of a small college."
The three Hawks played in the legendary Super Bowl III game, which saw the Jets beat the favored Baltimore Colts, 16-7. Members of the Colts, which included two other Maryland State graduates, still remember that fateful day where Boozer left an impression despite gaining just 19 yards on 10 carries.
"He was a good runner. He gave us fits down in Miami. He was tough to bring down," said Fred Miller, a defensive tackle for the Colts from 1963-1972. "We had trouble stopping him on the end lines, but I try not to remember too much about that ball game."
The election of Boozer into the Hall of Fame comes as a result of the efforts of Hawks for Football, an organization at UMES dedicated to reestablishing the football program, which was shut down in 1979. Every year, they nominate players for the Hall to remind people of the strong program UMES had for so many years.
With the selection of Boozer, Hawks for Football has helped three former members of the program into the Hall. Coach Vernon "Skip" McCain, who led the program from 1948-1963, was inducted in 2006 and Roger Brown, a defensive tackle for the Hawks from 1956-1959, was enshrined in 2009.
Dr. Bryant Mitchell, the vice-chair of Hawks for Football, said the university has raised roughly $250,000 thus far, with a goal of $3 million to restart the program. He said the organization will keep nominating players until its goal is reached.
"This is all part of our strategy to bring football back and that's why we nominated these guys," he said.