Michigan graduate assistant a trailblazer for female coaches

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ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Mimi Bolden-Morris had a trailblazing season at Michigan, becoming what is believed to be the first female graduate assistant football coach at a power conference school since the late 1980s.

If her mother didn’t call coach Jim Harbaugh, it wouldn’t have happened.

Bolden-Morris will be on the sideline Saturday when the second-ranked Wolverines play No. 3 TCU at the Fiesta Bowl in a College Football semfinal, helping to substitute tight ends into the game whose winner will play for the national championship.

The 23-year-old Bolden-Morris, who played basketball at Boston College and Georgetown, reached out to college football programs across the country to inquire about potential opportunities. It didn’t cross her mind to attempt to join Michigan’s staff because her brother, Mike, is a senior standout defensive end on the team.

“My mom said, `Why don’t you just reach out to coach Harbaugh,”‘ Bolden-Morris recalled in a recent interview at Schembechler Hall. “I was like, `No, I don’t want to bother my brother.’ She called anyway.”

Melanie Bolden-Morris, the principal of Glades Central High School in Belle Glade, Florida, contacted Harbaugh last spring to ask if her son could be excused to attend his sister’s graduation ceremony at Georgetown. After getting the OK, she asked if there was an internship available with the Wolverines, perhaps for the summer, for her daughter.

“I caught him off guard, but he was very positive about it and said he would look into it,” she said. “He called me back the next day and said she would have to interview. You have to ask for what you want in life. The worst thing he could say is no.”

She got a yes. And in doing so, Bolden-Morris ended a long drought for female coaches at the highest level of college football since Carol White worked with Georgia Tech kickers in the late 1980s.

In the NFL, Tampa Bay Buccaneers assistant defensive line coach Lori Locust became the league’s first female position coach in 2019 and Jennifer King is in her first season as Washington’s assistant running backs coach and her second on the staff.

“Hopefully, women in sport is something that becomes absolutely normal,” Bolden-Morris said. “And hopefully, I’m able to pave the way for that.”

Bolden-Morris is from Belle Glade, an area west of West Palm Beach referred to as “Muck City” and known for producing dozens of professional football players and growing sugarcane.

She grew up around the game, standing on sidelines with her father, Mike Morris Sr., and throwing footballs around.

Bolden-Morris played a lot of sports, but she was best at basketball. She was named to the all-ACC freshman team in 2018 while playing for Boston College and started every game last season at Georgetown, averaging nearly 13 points to lead the team as a graduate transfer.

While pursuing a career in basketball may have provided an easier path, coaching football became her goal after leading a youth flag football team entering her final year with the Hoyas. To prepare her for the potential transition, she sat in on meetings with Georgetown football coaches.

In March, Harbaugh announced Bolden-Morris was joining his staff.

“I have always believed in providing opportunities for individuals who are passionate about football and Mimi is someone who has shown that drive to become a football coach,” he said.

Bolden-Morris acknowledged she has, and continues to have, a lot to learn about football. She had to figure out a long list of plays, concepts and formations on the fly.

She helps the offensive staff with scouting reports, researching the history of opposing defensive coaches and analyzing what plays and personnel could work well for the Wolverines.

“For example, the defensive coordinator at TCU (Joe Gillespie) used to coach at Tulsa so we look back to see what we can pick up from their philosophies,” she said. “I’ll also watch all of TCU’s plays to see perhaps what Texas did to make some explosive plays.”

During games, Bolden-Morris assists tight ends coach Grant Newsome with the position group substitutions and basically blends in with the staff.

Bolden-Morris, who plans to return for a second season as a graduate assistant, hopes her work will help other women with the same dream.

“Knowing that I’m inspiring other people, being able to plant trees that I won’t see grow, knowing that a girl, boy, whoever is looking up to me and is inspired by what I’m able to do and see me every Saturday on TV and saying, `OK, I can do whatever I want to do because Mimi’s doing it,”‘ she said. “That has been the greatest experience ever.”

Vick, Fitzgerald and Suggs among stars on College Football Hall of Fame ballot for 1st time

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Michael Vick, Larry Fitzgerald and Terrell Suggs are among the college football stars who will be considered for induction to the Hall of Fame for the first time this year.

The National Football Foundation released Monday a list of 78 players and nine coaches from major college football who are on the Hall of Fame ballot. There also are 101 players and 32 coaches from lower divisions of college football up for consideration.

Vick, who led Virginia Tech to the BCS championship game against Florida State as a redshirt freshman in 1999, is among the most notable players appearing on the ballot in his first year of eligibility.

Vick finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting in 1999. He played one season of college football before being drafted No. 1 overall by the Atlanta Falcons in 2001. Vick’s professional career was interrupted when he served 21 months in prison for his involvement in dog fighting.

Fitzgerald was the Heisman runner-up in 2003 to Oklahoma quarterback Jason White. He scored 34 touchdowns in just two seasons at Pitt.

Suggs led the nation in sacks with 24 in 2002 for Arizona State.

The 2024 Hall of Fame class will be chosen by the National Football Foundation’s Honors Court and announced in January. Induction into the Atlanta-based hall is the following December.

Alabama freshman DB Mitchell says he wasn’t sure he’d get to play again after arrest

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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Alabama defensive back Tony Mitchell said he feared his football career was over after his arrest on a drug charge.

The Crimson Tide freshman said in a video posted Sunday on social media that he knew “something much bigger could have happened.”

A judge in Holmes County, Florida, sentenced Mitchell to three years of probation with a fine and community service on May 24 after Mitchell pleaded guilty to a charge of possession of more than 20 grams of cannabis.

“I didn’t know if I’d be able to play football again, but I continued to work out and stay close with the Lord and those who love me unconditionally,” Mitchell said. “During those times, it helped me to keep my mind off it. But when I was by myself looking at social media, what everybody had to say about it, it just felt like it happened again.

“I didn’t sleep at night.”

He was suspended from the Alabama team following the arrest, but Mitchell’s father, Tony Sr., posted on Facebook last week that the defensive back had been reinstated. An Alabama spokesman declined to comment on Mitchell’s status.

Tony Mitchell Sr. shared his son’s video on Facebook, saying it was filmed during a talk to youth.

“I was doing things I knew I shouldn’t to try to fit in,” the younger Mitchell said, “but not everybody’s your friend.”

Mitchell, who is from Alabaster, Alabama, was a four-star prospect and the 15th-rated safety in the 247Composite rankings.

He had been charged in March with possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell after a traffic stop when authorities said he drove over 141 mph (227 kph) while trying to evade deputies in the Florida Panhandle. A deputy had spotted Mitchell’s black Dodge Challenger traveling 78 mph (125 kph) in a 55 mph (88 kph) zone on a rural highway north of Bonifay.

He also received 100 hours of community service and paid a fine of $1,560.

Mitchell and a passenger were both charged with possession of marijuana with the intent to sell or deliver, according to a Holmes County Sheriff’s Office arrest report. The other man also was charged with carrying a concealed gun without a permit.