Remembering Hall of Fame Coach John Merritt
In recognition of Black History Month, The Falmouth Outlook will feature articles on several notable African Americans.
John Ayers Merritt, one of Tennessee's most successful football coaches, was born on January 26, 1926 to in Falmouth, Kentucky to Bradley Merritt and Grace Ayers Merritt.
He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1994.
After completing grade school, he moved to Louisville to live with an aunt in order to be eligible to attend Central High School, where he played football. Merritt joined the U.S. Navy after graduation. When he returned from military service, Merritt earned a football scholarship to Kentucky State College. He is an alumnus of Kentucky State University, where he played offensive guard on the football team from 1947 to 1949. He earned the nickname "Big John". He graduated in 1950 and earned a master's degree from the University of Kentucky in 1952.