NATCHITOCHES — LSU legends Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf and Glenn Dorsey, New Orleans Saints star receiver Marques Colston and Southern baseball superstar Rickie Weeks headline a star-studded group of eight inductees for the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame’s Class of 2021, the organization announced Thursday.
The class also includes an iconic LSU figure, former track and field coach Pat Henry, and Baton Rouge native Courtney Blades-Rogers, one of the best college softball pitchers of all time while at Nicholls State and Southern Miss.
North Louisiana is represented by Monroe’s Mackie Freeze, a dynamic high school football coach at Richwood High School and an undefeated pitcher for the Grambling Tigers, and Natchitoches native Villis “Bo” Dowden, the 1980 Bassmaster Classic champion.
One was a superstar before he ever put on a Saints’ uniform.
The Class of 2021 will be enshrined June 26 in Natchitoches to culminate the 62nd Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame celebration June 24-26.
Freeze and Henry, however, will enter the hall Dec. 15-17, joining the 2020 inductees, whose ceremony was postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Eight-time Mr. Olympia world bodybuilding champion Ronnie Coleman, chosen for the Class of 2020, will be inducted next summer because of a December scheduling conflict.
A 40-member Louisiana Sports Writers Association committee selected the 2021 inductees.
The panel considered a record 151 nominees from 29 different sports categories on a 35-page ballot, Hall of Fame chairman Doug Ireland said.
Colston, a seventh-round 2006 draft pick, made the NFL All-Rookie Team as he and new Saints quarterback Drew Brees began an extremely productive partnership that was a key in the Super Bowl XLIV championship season.
In 10 seasons, Colston set Saints records with 711 receptions for 9,759 yards and 72 touchdown catches.
Abdul-Rauf, then known as Chris Jackson, also had instant impact as a high-scoring guard for LSU. He was the Southeastern Conference Player of the Year in both of his two seasons with the Tigers. Abdul-Rauf averaged 14.6 points in nine NBA seasons, then played many more seasons internationally. LSU retired his No. 35 jersey last season, to the delight of his college coach, 1999 Hall of Fame inductee Dale Brown.
Dorsey, an East Ascension graduate, is the most decorated defensive player in LSU football history and helped the Tigers win the 2007 BCS national championship. A two-time All-American defensive tackle, Dorsey played nine NFL seasons after winning the Outland Trophy among other top national collegiate honors, playing for 2019 Hall inductee Les Miles.
Weeks set two NCAA Division I career hitting records that still stand, with a .465 batting average and a .927 slugging percentage. Playing at Southern under 2019 Hall inductee Roger Cador, he became the first and only player from a historically Black college to win the 2003 Golden Spikes Award.
Weeks played 14 major league seasons and was the National League’s starting second baseman in the 2011 All-Star Game.
Henry is one of the most successful track and field coaches in NCAA history. He led the LSU men’s and women’s teams to a combined 19 SEC titles and 27 NCAA indoor and outdoor team championships during a remarkable 17-year run from 1988-2004. He then moved to Texas A&M, building the Aggies into a national power.
Blades-Rogers was a four-time all-state pitcher at Belaire High School. She then set an NCAA career record with 1,773 strikeouts in 1,261⅔ innings in two seasons apiece at Nicholls and Southern Miss.
After earning Southland Conference Pitcher of the Year honors as a sophomore in 1998, she followed her head coach, Lu Harris, to USM and pitched the Golden Eagles to the Women’s College World Series in her final two seasons.
Blades-Rogers earned first-team All-America honors both years and won the 2000 Honda National Softball Player of the Year award. A recent NCAA.com column ranked her as one of the 11 best pitchers of all time.
Freeze, who will become the oldest person inducted at age 93, had a 116-23 (.834) coaching record from 1954-67 after starting the Richwood program. The Rams won a record 56 straight games and four consecutive state titles.
As an athlete at Grambling, Freeze was unbeaten on the mound in his career and pitched the Tigers to the national NAIA championship before going to spring training with the Brooklyn Dodgers.
Dowden’s 1980 Bassmaster Classic win came on the St. Lawrence River after he was second in 1976 and third in 1977, highlighting 14 appearances in the Super Bowl of professional bass fishing. He was in the money in 57% of the tournaments he entered.
Colston will become the 17th former Saints standout, coach or administrator inducted, and will be only the third player from this century so far to join the Hall of Fame, along with running back Deuce McAllister and Pro Football Hall of Fame tackle Willie Roaf.
Blades-Rogers is the second women’s collegiate softball player elected to the Hall, following Kyla Hall Holas of UL in 2011.
The 2021 Induction Class will be showcased in the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Museum, operated by the Louisiana State Museum system in a partnership with the Louisiana Sports Writers Association.
The striking two-story, 27,500-square foot structure faces Cane River Lake in the National Historic Landmark District of Natchitoches and has earned worldwide architectural acclaim and rave reviews for its contents since its grand opening during the 2013 Hall of Fame induction weekend.
The eight new competitive ballot inductees will raise the total of Hall of Fame members to 358 competitors honored since the first induction class was enshrined in 1959 after their election a year earlier.
Three other Hall of Fame inductees — the winner of the 2021 Dave Dixon Louisiana Sports Leadership Award, and recipients of the 2021 Distinguished Service Award in Sports Journalism — will join the class later this year.
The complete 11-person Class of 2021 will swell the membership in the Hall of Fame to 456 men and women, including 358 from the competitors’ ballot.
Biographical information on all 433 current Hall of Fame members is available at LaSportsHall.com.