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Harriman High School students will hear a pair of Tennessee football legends Wednesday morning as former Blue Devil star and Tennessee wide receiver Jermaine Copeland along with former Vol and Super Bowl champion running back Jamal Lewis will make an appearance as part of the Vols for Life program.
The Vols for Life program was started by another Harriman alum, Mel Clemmons, who has started Vols for Life as a business venture that allows former Vols to speak at community and corporate events. Chamique Holdsclaw is another former Tennessee great that is a part of the program.
“We call them Tennessee Legends,” Clemmons said. “We started this organization as a way for current and former Vols to make appearances.
“I’ve worked with a lot of charity events over the years and nobody really wants to pay to see Mel Clemmons,” he joked. “But we had all went to school together and it’s a great way for these guys to get their stories out there. They have all overcame a lot.
Copeland, who retired in 2012 after 11 seasons playing in the Canadian Football League, was a member of Harriman’s 1995 basketball state championship team as well as a member of Tennessee’s 1998 national title team. He is happy to be returning to the school that helped him achieve greatness.
“This is great for me,” an excited Copeland said. “This is where I got my start and to be able to give something back to Harriman is great for me in every way.”
Copeland will share his story about being a successful athlete, but he says there’s more to it than simply being athletically gifted.
“Hopefully, this will pay off for the kids,” he said. “I feel I’ve got a great story to tell about overcoming obstacles and working hard.
“Most of my talk will center around first, getting an education; second, trusting in God because He’s the captain of our will; and third, never giving up. You can be successful- no matter how hard it is, if you put your mind to it.”
Lewis will also share his story that includes playing on Tennessee’s 1998 championship team as well as winning the Super Bowl XXXL championship in 2001. In that game, he became the youngest player to ever score a touchdown in a Super Bowl at age 21.
He also set the record for rushing yards in a game in 2003 with a 295-yard performance against Cleveland. That record has since been broke by Adrian Peterson. That same 2003 season would see Lewis rush for 2,066 yards, which is third in NFL history.
Harriman Vice Principal Bobby Clark is also excited to have Copeland and Lewis speaking to the student body.
“It’s great for us to have these guys here,” he said. “Our kids know Jermaine Copeland and Jamal Lewis, and we believe they can get a lot out of what they have to say.”