Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College football players Randan Knight and Rishard Cook are used to protecting their quarterbacks.
They called an audible last Thursday and instead protected their coach — in a huge way.
Practice had made perfect for Lucy, the 7-year-old daughter of Gulf Coast offensive line coach Les George. She was eager to show off her well-honed dance moves and Thanksgiving song for anyone with the time. She beamed anytime the Perkinston Elementary Thanksgiving performance was brought up.
Unfortunately, with the junior college season having already concluded, the Bulldogs staff went straight into recruiting mode. With George scouring the state for the next wave of MGCCC football players, that meant he wasn’t going to be able to attend his daughter’s big day.
Knight, Cook and wide receiver Brandon Martin filled in more than admirably.
Knight and Cook are sophomore offensive linemen from Hattiesburg and Martin is a freshman from New Orleans. The players have become more than just like family with Les, his wife Chelsey, Lucy and 3-year-old Louise. They have become family. That was never more evident than last Thursday when the three stood in for their coach and made his daughter’s day in the process.
Like proud brothers or cousins, the players took videos on their cellphones of Lucy.
“She had been wondering who was going to come to the show for her,” Knight said Monday. “It was a big deal to her. We figured since Coach George was out of town recruiting, we’d be there for her. She did great. It was pretty cool. When we walked in, she kind of lit up looking at us. She was excited.”
“Gobble, gobble, yo,” he hummed, followed by a short chuckle, the hook of the song stuck in his head.
The seemingly simple gesture meant the world to the Georges.
“When they go out and do something like that for your child, who they see just as much a member of their family as yours, it’s heartwarming,” Les George said. “I was really proud of them.”
Cook said there was never a doubt where they’d be once they found out about the performance.
“It’s family. That’s family forever,” he said. “After this two years, I’m going to have a solid bond with them forever. They have love for me and I have a lot of genuine love back for them. We’re more than football to them.
“They’ll always be family to me.”
Added Knight: “We know he has our backs no matter what, so we have to do our best to be there for him. He spends a lot of time with us and out recruiting, so his family, sometimes he doesn’t get to see them as much as he would like to. … With us being the O-line, we have to be that unit where everybody is together because if one of us messes up everything messes up.
“We’re like that off the field, too, everywhere we go.”
Chelsey said her husband often feels bad that he misses big life events or performances, but she constantly reassures him that’s part of being a coaching family.
“The toughest part for me is the first day of school,” Les said. “We’re traditionally in camp, so that has been tough to make. That’s always tough to make and that’s always hard for me because I want to be there for her — and especially that one (Louise) whenever they have their first day of school. But there are moments you have to miss.”
It’s clear who the Georges are thankful for when it comes to Thanksgiving this year.
Gobble, gobble, yo!