It's a new edition of 3 Cheers. It's my regular series on unique athletes, coaches, and teams. Houston Markham Jr. is a SWAC legend. His pedigree began with a decade of dominance in Vicksburg.
Before the Markham Complex and a national title with Alabama State, Houston Markham Jr. made his impact in Mississippi. Temple, North Vicksburg, and Vicksburg players gathered Friday to honor a championship coach. June 30th was Houston Markham Jr. Day. Coach considers the River City as the roots of his career. "You plant a seed, a shrub comes up, a little plant. And here, this is the trunk of the tree of my life. They let me be me here, and I had great support. This place impacted my life, my family's life, oh man, unreal," Markham said.
A 40 game unbeaten streak and Big 8 titles with Temple and Vicksburg paved the way to Jackson State. W.C. Gorden hired Markham as an assistant in 1975.
"When I got to be the head coach of football at Jackson State University, Markham was my first hire. He's an excellent coach. He had the technique and the skills to develop that in our players. We had several offensive linemen drafted in the 1st round."
Current JSU assistant Derrick McCall played QB for Markham and Gorden: "When I was having hard times, playing behind a guy that was winning championships, and I had to persevere and keep fighting. And that's one of the main things that Coach Markham gave me, and it's sticking with me throughout my career right now."
Lester Walls agrees that those intangibles shaped a career in coaching and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. "Coach Markham was a very inspirational, personal motivating coach. You would have loved to play for him because encouraged you and made you successful."
Alabama State tabbed Markham in 1987 to lead the football program. The rest is Hornet history: 68 wins, the 1991 SWAC championship, and the HBCU national championship. The Brookhaven native is now enjoying retirement in Montgomery.
"I don't do very much, I cut my yard, I love my wife. I just play with the dog, cut the grass, just do whatever the hell I want to do. Hahaha. I didn't catch no passes, I didn't make no tackles, I just worked the hell out of them and enjoyed every minute of it. It was like I never had a job."
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