Inside Hotlanta and the SIAC
By Hal Lamar
Photos by Patsy Collier-Lamar
ATLANTA- Two former outstanding student-athletes from the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) will be joining other members of the Baltimore Ravens February 3 in New Orleans for Super Bowl 47.
Former Lane College standout Jacoby Jones and former all conference offensive lineman Ramon Harewood’s presence on the roster of the Baltimore Ravens provide the perfect birthday present for this conference which this year celebrates its 100th year of existence. The conference was founded in 1913.
This should also be a proud moment for both colleges which have had few of their athletes drafted by the pros.. In fact, Jones, a native of New Orleans Louisiana , is believed to be the highest (if not the only) draft pick in the school’s history when he was picked up in 2007 as the 3rd pick of the Houston Texans and the draft’s 73rd overall pick that year. He hung with the Texans until May of last year when he was signed by the Ravens. His two kickoff returns for over 100 yards, a punt return for a score and a key reception in the playoff game against Denver this season that allowed the Ravens to overcome a deficit, send the game into overtime and win 38-35, were key factors in getting the team to the 2013 Super Bowl.
Morehouse’s Harewood is a story within himself. A native of Barbados,Harewood enrolled in Morehouse on the advice of a former assistant football coach, Michael Grant. He had almost never played football (well the American version anyway). The closest he got to a sport with an oval ball was rugby which he excelled in along with soccer (real football). He enrolled at “The House” on a four year academic scholarship majoring in applied physics and engineering (did you heard me?). His performance on the field drew attention from the scouts and especially the Ravens who visited the college several times. In the 2010 draft, they selected Harewood in the 6th round, the 194th overall draft selection and one of only two HBCU athletes selected that year. That’s not too shabby for a school with a principal focus on academics but which still managed to get three of its athletes drafted ( Neil Montgomery in 1973 and Alex “Sweet Feet” Percival in 1977).
Both Harewood and Jones benefitted greatly from the coaching abilities and advice of current Morehouse pilot Richard Freeman. Freeman, an Atlanta native, was assistant head football coach and defensive coordinator at Lane from 2005-2007. He came to Morehouse in the early spring of 2007 at about the same time Harewood decided to try out for football.
In my last writing, I mentioned that a TV announcer covering the San Francisco-Green Bay playoff game which included former Morehouse student-athlete Jerome Boger as referee said something about Boger officiating the Super Bowl. When I inquired about that to the NFL, I was told by a spokesperson in an e-mail that they don’t choose the officiating crew until the week of the game. I speculate they do that to make sure there are no conflicts with officials working a game and being natives to a city where the two teams domicile, regardless of how innocent or coincidental it might be. The day following my speculation here, SBNation reported the NFL had announced that Boger would lead the officiating crew for this year’s Super Bowl adding one more person with ties to the SIAC to the roster of participants in” Nawlins”.
I know there will be a lot of media attention paid in New Orleans Super Bowl week about brothers Jim (49ers) and John (Ravens) Harbaugh facing each other as brothers in the Super Bowl. It reminds me of Super Bowl 41 in which former Chicago Bear Head Coach Lovie Smith and retired Indianapolis Colts head coach Tony Dungy squared off as the first two African head coaches in a Super Bowl. Dungy’s Colts won the game 29-17, making him the first coach of color to win the big dance….
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