Former Lumberjack football star and Super Bowl champion Larry Centers returned to Nacogdoches last Wednesday where he was joined at the discretion of Dr. Jack Nelson, the former President of the Baker Pattillo Student Center. Centers also spoke to the Nacogdoches Rotary Club.

“Anytime I come look at our beautiful campus, look at the flowers and the beautiful pine trees, it just brings me back to when I was a student here,” Centers said. “It’s always awesome to come back.”

Centers was also named a 2021 Distinguished Alumnus Award winner by SFA President Scott Gordon and the Alumni Association.

“I’m humbled, and words can't express the gratitude that I feel,” Centers said. “I like to think that I’ve done a pretty decent job of representing [SFA] well around the country. I’m looking forward to continuing to do that, and it just gives me a little bit more to brag about.”

He played for SFA as a fullback from 1986-1989 and was the Jacks’ rushing leader from 1987-1989. Centers also led the team in receiving in 1988 and 1989. The 1989 season saw the Jacks go 12-2-1, culminating in an appearance in the Division I-AA National Championship Game. Centers stands as SFA’s all-time leader for rush attempts in a season and career with 315 and 709 respectively.

Centers was drafted in the fifth round of the 1990 NFL Draft by the Phoenix Cardinals and played for 14 years in the NFL. He also had stints with the Washington Redskins, Buffalo Bills and New England Patriots. He was a 3x pro bowler (1995, 1996, 2001), First-Team All-Pro in 1996 and earned a Super Bowl ring in his final season when the New England Patriots won Super Bowl 38 in 2004.

Centers is the NFL’s all-time leader in receptions by a running back with 827. He ranks ahead of hall of famers such as Marshall Faulk, LaDanian Tomlinson and Marcus Allen among others. He has been nominated for the Pro Football Hall of Fame for every year he’s been eligible.

“At this point, I’m not just sitting on the edge of my seat waiting on it, but it’d be a nice feather in my cap when it happens,” Centers said. “I definitely think that my numbers show that I deserve to be there.”

His piece of advice for students and athletes is to be good, be consistent and to maximize their ability.

“Anything you want to accomplish out there, you can accomplish right here at Stephen F. Austin,” Centers said.

Centers also said that his time here at SFA has helped mold him into the man that he is today.

“I go back to my days here with Coach [Jim] Hess, Lynn Graves and the rest of our coaching staff and all of our players,” Centers said. “We formed a brotherhood when we came here, and we set out to try and win it all. We fell just a little bit short, but still remained close throughout the years. I think if we had to do it all over again, I think we’d beat [Georgia Southern,] if we played them again.”

Centers also has a positive outlook on the Lumberjacks program under Colby Carthel.

“I think he’s pushing us in the right direction,” Centers said. “He has a great attitude, and he is trying to build that winning culture. I think he can get it done. It may take him a little while, but I think he’s definitely taking the right steps.”

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