Happy 90th to the great Harper Davis, Class of 1980

Rick Cleveland
Rick Cleveland

The great Harper Davis, Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame Class of 1980, turns 90 years old today (Dec. 11, 2015). He is one of the splendid gentlemen of Mississippi sports.

This is from Mississippi’s Greatest Athletes, now in its second printing and available at your Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum and fine bookstores across the state.

Julius Harper Davis, a native of Clarksdale, is probably best known in Mississippi

athletic circles as the football coach at Millsaps College from 1964-89, but he was a splendid player long before that. Born in 1925, Davis played at Clarksdale High School in the early 1940s and led the Big Eight Conference in scoring. He then served in the St. Mary’s, Calif., Pre-Flight in 1944 and the All-Pacific Coast Corpus Christi, Texas Naval Air Station in 1945.

Harper Davis
Harper Davis

He was coached in 1945 by future Ole Miss head football coach John Vaught. After his service days, Davis played at Mississippi State from 1945-48. He was the Maroons’ top scorer in 1945, 1947 and 1948. He was named an Associated Press All- Southeastern Conference performer in 1945 and as a United Press International selection that same year. From 1946-48 he was chosen as Mississippi State’s Best Athlete. He played in the College All-Star Game in 1949. In professional football, Davis played for the Los Angeles Dons of the All-American Conference in 1949 and 1950.

Davis was joined on the Dons by fellow Mississippi Sports Hall of Famer Shorty McWilliams. Davis was a first-round draft pick of the Chicago Bears in 1950 and led the team in interceptions. He was with the Green Bay Packers in 1951. He began his successful coaching career at West Point High School in 1953, followed by a tenure at Columbus Lee High School in 1955. He then headed to his alma mater, Mississippi State, to coach there from 1956-63. Then it was on to Millsaps for the next quarter century with the Majors. From 1990 through 2006, Davis coached at Madison-Ridgeland Academy in Mississippi.

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