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Collin Jefferies newspaper article

Photo by Stephen Aldridge

From the LDS Church News, Nov 17, 2007


GRANTSVILLE, Utah — In a game between Morgan High and Grantsville High that was all but over at 26-6 late in the fourth quarter, fans from both sides of Cowboy Stadium suddenly began to roar.

As a slight player, bearing the number 1, trotted out on the field, the roaring grew louder.

The Oct. 19 game was out of reach for the Cowboys, who had possession of the ball on their own 30-yard line with 1:53 remaining in the game. Cowboy assistant coach David Millward walked across the press box and spoke with his brother, assistant coach John Ed Millward of the Morgan Trojans. "We'd like to put our manager in," Coach Millward said. "He's disabled, so your guys can't touch him."

The headsets of both teams were buzzing as the "right set of circumstances" started to unfold.

Head coach Tony Cloward barked at his team: "Block like you've never blocked before. Collin's running the football!"

Uneasy, Coach Cloward stepped around the huddle and yelled over to Morgan's head coach, Kovi Christiansen, "Are we on?"

Coach Christiansen responded with the "OK" symbol. Looking Collin in the eyes, coach Cloward instructed, "You run straight toward me, understand?" Collin nodded. Concerned, he sent Collin onto the field.

The Grantsville student body stood chanting "Collin! Collin! Collin!" repeatedly as they filled the track behind the players. The atmosphere was electrifying, yet to Collin's mother it was an answer to prayer.

She said, "When I realized Collin was on the field I felt a peaceful reverence about it. I knew God's hand was in it. I felt God's love for my son and both teams. I knew he would be OK."

Collin Jefferies, an 18-year-old priest in the Grantsville 5th Ward, Grantsville Utah West Stake, and a senior at Grantsville High, always dreamed about playing football. He had contracted potentially deadly meningitis when he was only seven months old, leading to a series of strokes that paralyzed his right arm and leg, cost him his hearing and left him mentally challenged with a shunt in his brain.

His parents, David and Carol Jefferies, soon noticed Collin's affection for playing, crawling and throwing a ball with great speed and accuracy. As he grew older, Collin first played little league soccer, then basketball, and before they knew it, he was in high school wanting to play football.

His mother, a second soprano in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, asked then-head coach Les Hamilton if her young freshman could help the football team. Coach Hamilton asked Collin to be the team manager, a challenge Collin didn't take lightly. According to his teammates, "A better manager can't be found."

Sister Jefferies said, "Collin is passionate about everything he does. He loves the Lord and loves his Cowboys."

Collin's love is evident as he sees to his team's every need. Senior quarterback Logan Paulich, team captain smiled: "We love Collin like a brother and we're overwhelmed by his love and concern for us."

Seniors on this year's team approached head coach Tony Cloward about the possibility of Collin seeing actual playing time.

"Collin was game eligible, being on the team roster and meeting all state scholastic requirements," said Coach Cloward. "My concern was Collin's safety. He was not a trained and conditioned football player. For him to play, just the right set of circumstances would have to be present, which would take a miracle."

On that Oct. 19, at the snap, quarterback Paulich, who was Collin's roommate at football camp, stuffed the ball into his friend's belly and Collin was off. While Collin ran, Paulich flanked him, one hand on Collin's shoulder, the other outstretched to the side as a protection and warning. Morgan's Kale Watkins came in hard from the left. Not able to discern his foe's intentions, Logan blocked him, protecting his special friend.

In the booth, the coaches Millward instructed, "Send him again!" As coach Cloward searched to find Collin, he was on the sideline where the team had engulfed him. Again Collin entered the game and ran the ball with Morgan's players in full cooperation, pursuing closely but never striking the runner as he rushed toward his coach on the sideline, as instructed. Morgan's Coach Christiansen confessed, "I had tears in my eyes to see the whole crowd come down and support Collin. That made the night awesome!"

After three rushes, Collin celebrated on the sideline while a pass play was sent in. Morgan's coaches insisted, "Run him the rest of the game!" Again the headsets came alive and Collin was back on the field. With time running out, Logan faded back to pass, but all his receivers were covered.

"I didn't know what was going to happen," said coach Cloward. "Then I saw Logan's eyes turn to Collin."

Collin was running alone in the flat and Paulich let the ball fly. Spinning to his left, Collin reached back and caught the ball one-handed — with his good arm — for an 11-yard gain and a first down. The crowd went wild.

"It was the most unbelievable catch I've ever seen," said John Krogh, an ardent Cowboy fan. "You don't see catches like that on ESPN!"

Others felt God's Spirit as well. "Many of us couldn't stop crying," said one Morgan mom. "It was the most spiritual thing I have ever witnessed at a sporting event."

Collin Jefferies newspaper article

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