NATCHITOCHES – History-making Melvin Howard, the first African-American football player in Northwestern State history, will be recognized as the Exchange Bank Demon Great of the Game, as the Demons’ football team hosts longtime rival McNeese State on Saturday night at Turpin Stadium.
Howard will be honored during a timeout in the first quarter of Saturday’s 6 p.m. game. Howard, a New Orleans native, played one season (1968) for the Demons before returning to his hometown, where he later earned a degree from Loyola University and spent 40 years as a member of the New Orleans Police Department.
Among Howard’s highlights during the 1968 season was a kickoff return for a touchdown against Southwestern Louisiana. Despite playing just one season in purple and white, Howard has remained a dedicated Demons fan.
When told of his selection as the Demon Great of the Game, Howard told NSU Assistant Athletic Director of Development and Marketing Haley Blount, “You didn’t just make my day, you made my life.”
Pro Football Hall of Fame member Jackie Smith, who helped the 1962 Demons win the Gulf States Conference championship; College Football Hall of Fame inductee Gary Reasons, a three-time All-America linebacker from 1981-83; 1987 All-America defensive end John Kulakowski, a Graduate N Club Hall of Fame member, and record-setting Lady Demon distance runner Maryalyce Walsh Cox were the first three Exchange Bank Demon Greats of the Game. Smith and Reasons were honored at the Aug. 28 game against Missouri State, Kulakowski on Oct. 11 against Incarnate Word and Cox on Oct. 18 against Sam Houston State.
The Demon Great of the Game, presented by Exchange Bank and Trust of Natchitoches, spotlights some of the most outstanding performers in the 107-year history of NSU football. Exchange Bank has been a key supporter of NSU Athletics throughout its long history as the oldest financial institution in Natchitoches.