Ole Miss football legend Billy Ray Adams dead at 84

Billy Ray Adams, a bruising running back for the University of Mississippi during coach Johnny Vaught’s most successful era at the Southeastern Conference school, died Thursday. He was 84.

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The university announced Adams’ death on its website, noting that the former fullback died at his home in Madison, Mississippi.

Adams played for Vaught at Ole Miss from 1959 to 1961, when the Rebels carved out a 29-3-1 record and were recognized by some football rating services as national champions in 1959 and 1960. The Associated Press listed both squads at No. 2 those years, according to

Splitting his time between fullback and cornerback, Adams was a three-year letterman who also earned first-team All-America and All-SEC honors as a senior in 1961, Sports Illustrated reported. In 1961, Adams led the team in rushing yards and scoring and finished second in the SEC in rushing. He led the conference with 10 touchdowns, including nine on the ground. On defense, he returned an interception for a score.

Ole Miss went 10-1 in 1959 and defeated LSU in the Sugar Bowl, WJTV reported. The following year, the team went 10-0-1 and won the SEC title. They were named national champions by the Football Writers Association of America, according to the television station.

According to his obituary, Adams was elected to the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame in 1987 and the Ole Miss Athletic Hall of Fame in 1990.

He was born on Oct. 18, 1938, in Reform, Alabama. Adams grew up in Columbus, Mississippi and attended Ole Miss on a football scholarship, according to his obituary.

Adams’ football career ended after he was involved in an automobile accident in early 1962, the university wrote on its website.

He was selected by the San Francisco 49ers in the third round of the 1962 NFL draft and by the Houston Oilers in the AFL draft, but his injuries prevented him from pursuing a professional football career. He went into business and was a partner of Barksdale Bonding and Insurance company, according to his obituary.

Funeral services will be held on Monday.

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