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New football coach tackles two comebacks

By Rori Francis Blakeney

Terry J. Beauford knows firsthand that a setback is a set up for a comeback.

With the nasty setback he experienced this past summer, he’s expecting big, huge even, comebacks—both for himself and the fledging Maroon Tigers football team.

Beauford, who comes to Morehouse from Hampton University, where he was offensive line coach, was traveling through North Carolina to Atlanta when, trying to avoid a car that had blown a tire, his SUV flipped over a few times. He was thrown out the car and, with hundreds of sheets of paper and golf balls all over the road, Beauford’s SUV underside was belly up. Beauford received a broken right shoulder, cracked ribs, a fractured spine and numerous scrapes. But he remembers telling those around him “don’t tell my players I am hurt.”

As fate would have it, Dr. Michael Starsiak, an Emory physician, was traveling behind the new coach and came to his rescue.

“I didn't think he would be alive,” said Starsiak, recalling his initial reaction to the accident. He found Beauford unconscious and bleeding from the head—but alive. Enlisting the aid of a bystander who called for emergency services, Starsiak immediately worked to apply pressure to Beauford’s head to stop the bleeding. Once EMS arrived, he continued to administer care to the coach, examining his spine and neck and placing support on the side of the head to keep immobilize it.

Beauford was in a medically induced comma for two days and was hospitalized in Charlotte for a total of two weeks.

“The doctors thought I had brain damage,” he said. “My head was busted wide open, all my skin was pulled back and blood was coming from everywhere.” He remembers thinking “Am I going to make it?”

Waking up and seeing the Rev. Jerome Barber of Hampton Va., Beauford said he knew things were going to be all right. “We will be with you through this coach,” he recalls the players saying when they got the word of the car wreck. It is that family atmosphere he wants to create in the Morehouse football program.

The doctors ruled out brain damage because he was alert and able to provide them with information. Nurses told him he was trying to pull out the breathing tube while he was in the hospital – a sign of the true fighter in him.

A few days after coming off a breathing tube, Beauford was walking on his own. And a scant two days after being released from the hospital, he was at back at Morehouse.

“I am not use to being down,” he explained, but admits that he sometimes experiences a lot of numbness. He’s currently doing rehab at the school and describes his progress as going well.

In his first year, Beauford says he will focus on the fundamentals – what football is about, being able to compete every week and helping players believe in themselves.

His pep talk to the team brings into play Morehouse’s historic reputation of being a school with strong academic programs. “I want players to know…[that] the same drive it takes to get an A is the same drive it takes to win in football,” Beauford said.

And after football 101, he’s committed to working on leadership.

“I’ll start picking guys who can lead the team in the right direction,” he said.

For the first few months of practice, he is building solid blockers and matching players with the right positions.

“I want to try to start a dynasty,” he said.

Beauford knows the importance of going in the right direction. Raised with two sisters and a brother by a single mom in Fort Pierce, Fla., he credits his high school coach, Lewis Rice, and FAMU’s Walter Highsmith, for being father figures with a no-nonsense approach to life.

“A lot of what I do now is based on my high school days. The discipline, the hard work and attitude,” Beuford said. “I was a knucklehead in high school. They saw a lot of potential in me. They kept sticking with me.”
He says his players can expect some tough love. “ I am a disciplinarian,” he said. “But the guys should have some fun.”

Beauford comes to Morehouse with an impressive lineup of experience. He served for five years as an offensive line coach and co-special teams’ coordinator at Hampton, which won last season's Sheridan Broadcasting Network Black College National Championship. Prior to that, he was a volunteer coach at Lane College for a year before serving as the team’s assistant head coach and offensive coordinator in 1998 and 1999.

In 1991, Beauford was drafted in the seventh round of the NFL draft and played professionally for nine years with the San Diego Chargers and Green Bay Packers, in the Canadian Football League with the Shreveport Pirates and in the Arena Football League with the Tampa Bay Storm. At Florida A&M University, where he earned a degree in criminal justice, his team won the MEAC championships in 1988 and 1990.

Reflecting on his coaching days at Hampton, Beauford said: “ I had no plans to be an assistant football coach forever. So, when I took the job as Hampton's offensive line coach in 2000, I said in five years I would be a head coach.”
If all of Beauford’s pronouncements meet with such sound success, then the Tigers—which had a 4-6 season last year—just might see another miraculous comeback.

He’s all ready off to a good start. In the August 25 game, which was nationally broadcast on ESPNU, the Tigers came from behind in the last half with a touchdown, winning the game 20-17.

“My goal is to win,” Beauford declared. “Anything else would be uncivilized.”

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