Vicksburg’s Stevenson determined to make most of chance at Coahoma

Published 11:05 am Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Former Vicksburg High running back Ernest “E.J.” Stevenson (20) tries to break a tackle last season against Ridgeland. Stevenson signed last week with Coahoma Community College. (Justin Sellers/The Vicksburg Post)

Former Vicksburg High running back Ernest “E.J.” Stevenson (20) tries to break a tackle last season against Ridgeland. Stevenson signed last week with Coahoma Community College. (Justin Sellers/The Vicksburg Post)

Going to play for a program that went winless last season, has won a total of three games in four years, and lies smack-dab in the middle of the blazing hot Mississippi Delta might not seem like fun to a lot of people.

For E.J. Stevenson, it’s a golden opportunity not to be missed.

The former Vicksburg High running back signed last week with Coahoma Community College. He earned a scholarship based on an impressive showing at a tryout in the spring. For a player with a huge work ethic and big dreams, but no other football offers, getting a chance to suit up for the downtrodden Tigers is a dream come true.

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“You only have a couple of opportunities in life to do something you really want to do,” said Stevenson, who is the sixth Vicksburg player to sign with a two- or four-year school this year. “I live by my code of the three P’s — prayer, patience and persistence — and work diligently for what I want. I really do have a chance to go to another level. Many players don’t get a chance to go to junior college. I’m going to make sure I work harder than the next person.”

Stevenson didn’t make much of an impression during his senior season with Vicksburg as its running game struggled mightily. Stevenson led the team in rushing, but had just 249 yards and didn’t score a touchdown in a team-high 64 carries.

Despite the lack of stats, Stevenson had the right physical tools to play at the next level. At 5-foot-11 and 190 pounds, he’s got the type of frame that can make him a success in college.

Stevenson didn’t receive any offers during the signing period, but impressed Coahoma’s coaches enough at their open tryout to get one later on. He signed his letter of intent last week.

“They called my mom and told her. When she called and told me, I was surprised,” Stevenson said. “Words can’t express it. That’s how you know God is real. I’ve got a good support system and family.”

Stevenson thanked a number of people, including his mother Rosalind Clay, stepfather Jonathan Wayne Clay, father Ernest Stevenson, uncle Christopher Scott and cousin Gevante Titus for their support.

He also gave a special shout-out to his friend and VHS teammate, Marquez Pickett.

“He showed me through every dark night there’s a brighter day,” Stevenson said. “I love him for that.”

While he was understandably ecstatic about receiving a scholarship, Stevenson quickly and smartly shifted gears to accept the harsh reality that he’ll have to work to keep it. For that, he pointed to another inspirational source — former Vicksburg High star Malcolm Butler.

Butler, like Stevenson, went to a junior college before becoming a Division II All-American and helping the New England Patriots win the Super Bowl last season.

“The last thing I’m trying to be is a ‘would’ve, could’ve,’” Stevenson said. “If Malcolm Butler can do it, I can do it.”

The road to stardom begins soon. Coahoma is having a summer camp for its players in July, and they report to campus for preseason practice on Aug. 4. Stevenson said he’s taking a businesslike approach and is ready to put in the work necessary to become a success.

“I’m blessed. It’s an honor that I’m going up there, but it’s work. I don’t have time to relax. I’m going up there to take care of business,” he said. “I’m the last one to sign. Everybody doubts me. But the best revenge to take on someone is to prove them wrong.”

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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