ORANGEBURG, SC (April 20, 2023) – Former South Carolina State football standout John Gilliam is one of five persons scheduled for induction into the South Carolina Football Hall of Fame Friday at a 6:30 p.m. enshrinement ceremony at the Hilton Greenville. A reception and buffet begin at 5:30 pm.
Gilliam, who also starred in track and field as a Bulldog during his undergraduate days (1962-1967) at SC State, will be joined in the 2022 Class by Coach Mike Ayers of Wofford, OL Joe Bostic of Clemson, DB Brad Edwards of the University of South Carolina and RB Stanford Jennings of Furman.
A Greenwood, SC native, Gilliam will be the eighth SC State inductee into the prestigious hall, which will be celebrating its tenth (10th) anniversary. Bulldogs previously enshrined include Head Coach Emeritus Willie Jeffries, NFL defensive standouts Donnie Shell and Harry Carson, all members of the inaugural class of 2013; NFL defensive star DE David “Deacon” Jones (2014); All-MEAC and NFL wide receiver Charlie Brown (2017); All-America defensive standout Robert Porcher, the school’s only number one NFL draftee and an NFL standout (I2020); and All-America and NFL defensive back Dwayne Harper (2021).
Gilliam, who now makes his home in Atlanta, GA with his wife Fannie, a retired attorney, was an All- SIAC (Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference) wide receiver and safety three years for SC State — 1964, 1965 and 1966. During his senior campaign in 1966, he was clocked at 9.5 seconds in the 100 yards, four tenths of a second off the then world-record run of 9.1 seconds by Florida A&M’s Bob Hayes.
He led the Bulldogs in receptions in 1963 (6 catches, 181 yds, 4 TDs; scoring leader with 24 pts.); and was third in receptions in 1965 (9 catches, 212 yds, 4 TDs, tops on team). Gilliam tied for second in scoring for SC State in 1965 with 4 TDs.
He is remembered fondly by a host of Bulldog teammates and alumni for his 1966 performance against rival Florida A&M and legendary coach Jake Gaither, who had dominated the Bulldogs for years. Gilliam returned a kickoff 98 yards for the only TD of the game in an 8-3 SC State win. He was also a star on defense, as he batted down three passes, one that prevented a TD, and had two Interceptions.
Gilliam was drafted in the second round of the 1967 NFL draft by New Orleans and went on to an illustrious pro career with the Saints, St. Louis, and Minnesota, where he played on two Super Bowl teams. He also played briefly for the Atlanta Falcons before retiring at New Orleans, where his pro career began. The SC State alum scored the first touchdown in Saints’ history when he returned a kickoff 94 yards in the team’s inaugural game against the Los Angeles Rams in 1967.