STARKVILLE, Miss. (WTVA/MSU Athletics) – Mississippi State will honor its first African-American student-athletes, Frank Dowsing Jr. and Robert Bell, with the dedication of the Dowsing-Bell Plaza on the north end of Davis Wade Stadium prior to the 90th Battle for the Golden Egg on Thanksgiving night.
The ceremony will begin at 4 p.m. at the north end plaza of Davis Wade Stadium and include remarks from MSU President Dr. Mark Keenum and Director of Athletics John Cohen. Fans are invited to attend before the Dawg Walk and stadium gates opening at 4:30 p.m. Kickoff for the Egg Bowl is 6:30 p.m. live on ESPN.
“Frank Dowsing and Robert Bell are heroes and their legacies will forever be remembered at Mississippi State,” Cohen said. “The Dowsing-Bell Plaza will serve as a tribute to their courage as they paved the way for others in all sports on our campus.”
The year was 1969, and it would forever change the course of Mississippi State Athletics history. Dowsing, a prep star from Tupelo, and Bell, a native of Meridian, enrolled at MSU and were members of the Bulldog freshman football team. A year later, they joined the varsity squad and guided State to its first winning season in seven years.
Thanksgiving night will mark nearly 47 years to the day that Dowsing provided fans with one of the most memorable plays in Egg Bowl history. His interception in the endzone in the waning minutes of the contest sealed a 19-14 victory for the Bulldogs on Nov. 21, 1970.
Dowsing was a two-time All-Southeastern Conference defensive back selection in 1971 and 1972. As a senior, Football News named him a first-team All-American. That same fall, he became the first player in MSU history to earn the prestigious honor of National Football Foundation National Scholar-Athlete.
Dowsing, who was voted Mr. Mississippi State in October 1972, finished his career at the time as the school’s all-time leader in interceptions with 10. He died at the age of 42 on July 11, 1994.
Bell, an inspirational leader on the defensive line, was a regular starter and a fan favorite. An honor student at Meridian High School, he went on to earn three letters for the Bulldogs.