The Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame announced its class of 2024 on Wednesday, headlined by Super Bowl-winning quarterback Eli Manning.
Joining Manning in the newest group are two other NFL players, a tennis professional, a track and field star, a basketball coach, a baseball broadcaster, and the Hall of Fame’s first-ever bass fisherman.
The full class, with career recaps provided by the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame, can be found below.
The youngest of the Manning sons, Eli began making his mark in football at an early age. He excelled as a quarterback in high school before following in his father’s footsteps to the University of Mississippi. During his time in Oxford, he set or tied 47 records to become the most honored offensive player in school history. He was the first player drafted in the 2004 NFL Draft. He enjoyed a 16-year career with the New York Giants, winning two Super Bowls and two Super Bowl MVP Awards. His #10 jersey has been retired by both Ole Miss and the Giants. He is in the Giants Ring of Honor, Ole Miss Sports Hall of Fame, Louisiana High School Sports Hall of Fame, and has been selected as an SEC Legend. In 2016, Eli was chosen as the NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year.
Walter “Red” Barber
Born in Columbus, Red Barber first started working in radio while at the University of Florida. He caught the eye of Cincinnati Reds General Manager Larry MacPhail who was looking to broadcast his team’s games. The first big league game he watched was his first MLB broadcast. Barber went on to broadcast for the Reds, the Brooklyn Dodgers, and the New York Yankees. He and his partner with the Yankees, Mel Allen, were the first two broadcasters honored with induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. He is credited with many unusual sayings during his broadcasts like “sitting in the Catbirds seat,” calling arguments “rhubarbs,” or telling listeners that “the batter hit that ball out into the pea patch.”
Born and raised in Indianola, Richard Duease played many sports throughout his high school and junior college years. He attended Mississippi State and then began his coaching career at Manchester Academy in Yazoo City. He moved to Lee Academy in Clarksdale to coach men’s and women’s basketball. In 1982, he was hired at Madison-Ridgeland Academy, where he still coaches today. While at MRA, Coach Duease has averaged over 30 wins per season. His teams have won 33 state championships and 15 overall MAIS championships. Now in his 49th season, he has a men’s basketball record of 1209-433 and a women’s basketball record of 592-271.
A native of Laurel, Paul Elias is the first Professional Bass Fisherman to be selected for the Hall of Fame. Perhaps the greatest fisherman the state has produced, Elias began tournament fishing as a pro in 1979 and still competes today. In 1982, Paul won the Bassmaster’s Classic Championship in Montgomery, Ala. In 2008, he set a record that still stands today for the largest four-day five-bass limit in one tournament of 132 pounds 8 ounces on Lake Falcon in Texas. Over his career, he has won six tournaments and had over 50 top-10 finishes. Paul is considered one of the top innovators and technicians in bass fishing.
Born and raised in Jackson, Jimmy Smith started his football career at Callaway High School as a wide receiver. His teammates nicknamed him “Silk” because he made big plays appear easy. He played college ball at Jackson State and then was drafted 36th overall in the 1992 NFL Draft by the Dallas Cowboys. In his rookie year, he played mainly special teams and helped the Cowboys to a Super Bowl victory. In 1995, Smith caught the eye of Jaguars Head Coach Tom Coughlin at a tryout camp and was signed by the team. He was a five-time Pro-Bowler and led the league in passes caught in 1999. He was a fixture for a decade in the Jacksonville offense. Over his career, he caught 862 passes for 12,287 yards and 67 touchdowns. He retired as the Jags’ all-time leading receiver.
A native of Jackson, Savanté Stringfellow attended Provine High School where he was a track and field star. He competed in the long jump, ran hurdles, and had a high jump of 6’11.” He went to Ole Miss where he was coached by Hall of Famer Joe Walker. Long jump was his specialty and he claimed three NCAA Titles, as well as six All-American titles. In 2000, he earned a spot on the U.S. Olympic team, where he won a silver medal in the long jump. He has won titles all around the world in the U.S., Canada, Australia, France, Monaco, and Hungary. He is a member of the Ole Miss Athletic Hall of Fame.
Becky Vest grew up in Jackson and attended Provine High School. While in junior high, she won two state championships in tennis. In high school, she won three more. Becky chose to attend Odessa Junior College and then Trinity University in Texas because they offered women’s tennis programs at the time. After college, Becky turned professional and played on the Virginia Slims European Tour. She played in the French Open, U.S. Open, and Wimbledon. She has taught tennis all over the mid-south in Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. In 1998, she was inducted into the Mississippi Tennis Hall of Fame. Her mother, Dorothy Vest, is also an inductee of the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame, making them the first mother-daughter duo to be inducted.
Dr. Webb grew up on a cattle farm near Florence. He was an outstanding student and athlete at Florence High and went on to Mississippi State University. While at MSU, Jimmy attained All-American status, All-SEC honors, and All-Academic status. He was arguably the top defensive lineman in Bulldog history, while also studying veterinary medicine. He was the first-round draft choice by the San Francisco 49ers and played for six seasons. In 1981, he played with the San Diego Chargers as they went on to win their division and first-round playoff contest. Although the league didn’t keep defensive stats for sacks, tackles for loss, or assisted tackles until 2001, one sportswriter claimed that Jimmy spent so much time in the opponent’s backfield that they should have charged him rent. Dr. Webb and his wife settled in Turlock, Calif., where he worked in embryo transfer and ran his family farm. He has been inducted into the MSU Athletic Hall of Fame, selected as an SEC Legend, and selected to the 75th Anniversary Sun Bowl Team in 2008.
The Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame’s class of 2024 will be inducted next August with tickets to the ceremony going on sale in January.