One More Football Debut for BC's Compton
This will be a debut unlike any other Mike Compton has experienced over the course of his personal gridiron odyssey.
August 24, 2012
Article by Tim Hayes of the Bristol Herald Courier
Mike Compton makes his collegiate coaching debut at Bluefield College.
The first time he donned a Richlands High School uniform in the mid-1980s was surely special. His first game for West Virginia University in 1989 was exciting.
In 1993 he realized a dream as a rookie offensive lineman for the Detroit Lions. In 2008 he was victorious in his inaugural game as the head football coach at Patrick Henry High School.
But his first game as an assistant coach at Bluefield College – at 1 p.m. at Mitchell Stadium against Pikeville (Ky.) – will come as the Rams reincarnate a program that has been dormant for more than 70 years. Talk about historical significance.
“I’m expecting a good turnout with the fanbase and stuff as well as the student body and all the faculty and people at Bluefield College,” Compton said on Wednesday. “The coaches are excited and are busy game prepping. I think the players are slowly getting excited. It’s important that they not get caught up in that hoopla and the goings on outside of the football program and focus on just coming out on the field and competing.”
Bluefield hasn’t competed in intercollegiate football since posting a 30-7 win over Rio Grande (Ohio) on Nov. 20, 1941, a victory that was polished off by Dick Bogdan’s touchdown run. Less than a month later Pearl Harbor was bombed by Japanese forces, the country soon entered World War II and Bluefield’s program went into mothballs.
It was announced in 2010 that the program would be reinstated with Mike Gravier being selected as the school’s first head coach later that year. Shortly after resigning his post as the boss at Patrick Henry, Compton joined Gravier’s staff and the last two years have been filled with recruiting trips, scrimmages and building a foundation for a fledgling team for the former pro.
“There was a lot more sense of urgency and competing in camp [this year],” Compton said. “Last year we knew guys were redshirted and we were scrimmaging other teams and a lot of intrasquads. But there’s nothing like going out and playing when it’s on the line.”
The local influence will be felt. John “Boomer” Hawthorne (Tennessee High), Keith Dunn (Graham), Lamont Edwards (Graham), Sammy Ervin (Rye Cove), Hayne Darby (Patrick Henry), Caleb Frye (Patrick Henry), Dylan Justus (Grundy) and Mikel Hawks (George Wythe) are on the Rams’ initial preseason roster. Edwards, Ervin and Justus are listed as redshirts.
“These young men have worked hard,” Compton said. “When you’re starting a program, there are some bumps in the road. This past year we’ve recruited guys that fit our philosophy and guys that picked Bluefield College over other schools. The opportunity to come in and play as a freshmen and being a part of something special appealed to them.”