OSU football: Meet Devante Averette's biggest cheerleader
Oklahoma State linebacker Devante Averette traveled quite the road to reach the point where he will soon play a significant role for the Cowboys.
I wrote about that journey for Tuesday's Oklahoman, and you can read it here. But one person who I couldn't quite nail down for an interview before putting the column together was Mike Dennis. He was one of Averette's high school coaches, and Averette credits Dennis with helping him get the chance to play college football. And apparently, helping unheralded players get scholarships is what Dennis does; his efforts are so admirable that the Detroit News featured him earlier this year.
Averette thinks the world of Dennis and even has a fantastic nickname for him.
Averette uses the name so religiously that his mother calls Dennis "Coach Speed."
But lo and behold, not long after the column about Averette posted on our website, I got an email from Dennis. With his permission, I wanted to share some of it.
Here's what Dennis had to say:
"I wanted to take the time to say thank you for the kind words about my kid Devante Averette. Without question, he is the best kid that I have ever coached and maybe the best athlete to come out of the state of Michigan in the last 10 years.
"I would take Devante to church with Detroit Lions Hall of Famer Lem Barney ... (who) is now an associate pastor at Hope United Methodist Church. There was no way I was gonna let this young man fail. I told him, 'God, family, school, football' and started making calls.
"My good friend at Ellsworth Community College, Coach Lattimore, gave him a scholarship in 5 seconds. I told him, 'You just got the best kid out of Michigan in 10 years.' Junior college All-American. A great father. As great as a football player as he is, he is even a better young man. He is making his mother, Michelle, so proud not only with football but with school as well.
"I have put 75 kids in college now and over $2.9 million in scholarships and never took a dime from a kid or a single mother. It's stories like Devante Averette that makes what I do worthwhile.
"I will be in the stands Thursday night watching Oklahoma State University take the field in his home state. All you need sometimes in life is somebody to believe in you.
"My mother had a massive stroke and she died of cancer. Guess who was there for me at my worst times? Devante Averette. 'Everything is going to be OK, Coach. It's all about faith.'
"Good luck, son. God. Family. School. Football."