Tramon Douglas, who helped Grambling to the 2002 Southwestern Athletic Conference championship during a record-smashing college career, rejoins his former Tigers offensive coordinator, Melvin Spears — now the head coach at Alcorn. Douglas joins a staff that already includes Bruce Eugene, the passer from that Doug Williams-led title team who recently took a job as quarterbacks coach at Lorman, Miss., as well.
It’s safe to say this trio knows a little something about passing and catching.
In 2003, Douglas became the first Grambling player to be invited to the East West Shrine Football Classic since fullback Eric Gant a decade before. That honor followed an amazing junior season, where he broke the conference single-season receiving yards record with 1,704 yards on 92 catches – including 18 touchdowns. The previous record holder, at 1,682 yards, was a certain Jerry Rice, the future Pro Football Hall of Famer who played collegiately at Mississippi Valley State.
Douglas was a consensus first team All-America selection, named to the Associated Press, the Sports Network and the Sheridan Broadcasting Network teams. He was also a first-team All-SWAC selection. He led the Football Championship Subdivision in average receiving yards per game, while setting new school single-season receiving records in receptions, yards and touchdowns, all while carrying a 3.0 grade-point average. Douglas became the only person in SWAC history to record more than 1,700 receiving yards in a single season, too.
As a senior, Douglas joined Eugene as a first-team selection on the Sports Network’s FCS 2003 preseason All-America team. Together, they had keyed an explosive offense that helped Grambling to unprecedented third straight National Black College and Southwestern Athletic Conference championships, and an 11-2 overall record in 2002.
But the numbers only tell part of the story with Douglas, an undersized go-getter who played through knee problems with a steely-eyed determination.
A highlight of his final campaign with the Tigers was an early-season whisker-close loss to defending FCS runners up McNeese State at Robinson Stadium, when a badly hobbled Douglas pulled down a stunning 17 catches – only two fewer than all of the other Grambling receivers combined. (He broke the previous school record of 16 set by former wideout Nate Singleton against Virginia Union on Sept. 14, 1991.)
“I have pain – Monday through Friday, in practice,” Douglas told me in 2003. “In the game, though, I really don’t feel it.”
Easy to believe if you were there the night that Douglas, not long after finally having surgery on the knee, made a heart-splashing, one-handed catch for a first down — and then a di-i-i-i-i-iving grab on a 36-yard TD pass to help Grambling destroy Texas Southern and what was then the league’s top-ranked pass defense 48-15 just before Thanksgiving.
“He’s a fighter,” Eugene told me back then, clearly in awe of Douglas’ gutty performance. “He’ll never quit. He’ll never give up.”
Douglas later was in camp with the Tennessee Titans, memorably hauling in three passes for 79 yards in a 2004 preseason game against Dallas, and then played for the AFL’s Nashville Kats.