Ole Miss Tight Ends Coach Highlights Athletic Banquet
CLARKSDALE — University of Mississippi tight ends coach and offensive recruiting coordinator Maurice Harris brought a message of hope and leadership with him Thursday evening, and shared his own personal trials with Coahoma Community College athletes, during the 2013-14 Athletic Banquet held inside the Pinnacle.
Harris was a four-year letterman at Arkansas State, including the 1996 season when he recorded team-high 100 tackles from his safety position. After earning his bachelor's degree from ASU in 1998, he went to Whitehaven High School in Memphis, Tenn., as an assistant coach.
Harris headed Whitehaven's offense, which was tops in the area, and improved its yardage by more than 100 yards per game from the previous season. He was promoted to head coach at Whitehaven two years later and was named West Tennessee Coach of the Year in 2001 after leading his team to the city and region championships in 2001.
He followed the 2001 campaign with another city title in 2002 and was named assistant coach in two all-star games. He was named head coach for the Liberty Bowl High School All-Star Game in Tennessee.
During his three seasons as head coach at Whitehaven, Harris posted a 23-12 record and had 32 players sign scholarships to play college football.
Now at Ole Miss for the second time, Harris also had coaching stints at Arkansas State and Alabama State.
As a torrential downpour crashed against the buildings rooftops, creating an eerie atmosphere inside the gymnasium, the coach shared his story of having an absentee and alcoholic father and how he rejoiced on the day his mother told him she was divorcing his father. And he also shared how his “village” that consisted of his mother, grandparents and coaches helped to mold him into an athlete and human being filled with character and positivity.
“I used to ask myself, ‘Why? Why did all of my coaches ride me so hard, why were they always on my case?” said Harris of his coaches growing up. “They told me, ‘I ride you because I love you, I’m hard on you because I care about your future, I see something inside of you … you don’t need to worry why I am so hard on you, the only time you should worry is when I stop.’”
Harris shared a statement that was hammered into him by one of his coaches that echoes this sentiment, and that same statement became the first thing he told his own players when he first arrived at White Station.
“Become a positive and productive citizen to society, you use football, don’t let football use you!”
The Ole Miss coach also cautioned CCC athletes about their “own brand” and how that they are seen by others … that getting an education and excelling athletically puts them in a position as a role model, and to be careful what kind of brand they’re representing.
“Whether you believe it or not, someone is looking up to you. What’s your brand? What are the things that you’re putting out there on social media? What kind of person are you advertising yourself to be?
“It’s now the time for you yourselves to become the next generation of coaches and leaders, you too have had a village that has helped you get to where you are — now it’s your turn to be a leader.”
Harris said that being a leader could be accomplished in a few simple steps: 1) Love a young person unconditionally. 2) Never lie to them, the truth may hurt but that’s how trust is developed. 3) Walk through life with them — through the peaks and the valleys and 4) Set boundaries and enforce them.
He left the podium wishing all the athletes luck and telling them to keep God and their families first.
After Harris’ address softball, football, baseball softball and basketball coaches handed out their yearly awards in addition to the highest GPA awards given by the entire Athletic Department which went to baseball’s Ray Williams and basketball’s Antoinette Mayfield.
Leadership Award — Shanikqua McNeal
Best Pitcher — Gabrielle Lee
Co-Rookies of the Year — Chresha Brown and Danielle Lindsey
Baseball: No awards given because season is not finished.
Academic Award — Antoinette Mayfield and Ariel Jones
Newcomers Award — Ashley Smith
Tiger Award — Darcee Carson
Hustle Award — Trey Allen
Newcomer Award — Cameron Monix
MVP — Xavier Graves
Top Wide Receiver — Kennan Daniels
Tiger Award — Jonathan Bell
MVP — Quaintavous Peterson
Top Defensive Lineman — Keeland McElrath
Top Linebacker — Justin Henderson
Top Defensive Back — James Harmon