Atmore has rich educational background

Published 9:38 am Wednesday, September 12, 2007

By By Lowell McGill
Professor Woodrow McCorvey served as an educator here for many years. He was regarded as one of the most respected high school principals this county has ever known. He always took delight in being referred to as 'Professor.' All his friends referred to him by this name.
Many of those students for whom he was their administrator have nothing but kind words for him. My sons, who were students under his supervision, hold him in the highest of regards. While he was principal at the middle school, students knew that he stood for discipline and harmony. He wanted a well-rounded education for all his students. And, he saw to it that they received that type of education.
Buck Jones and Aubrey Wright, former Atmore principals, also were known to praise his style of administration and tactics. They often said that many of his teachers provided an excellent foundation for basic learning skills. Because of his efforts, those students had less difficulty learning at the high school level.
He was a well-informed person, keeping abreast of world affairs. A very intelligent man, he could converse with leaders, dignitaries and the very common individuals. He used diplomacy in his dealings with every person or groups he was involved with.
He and I would often talk about sports. We both had a mutual interest in that subject at that time. His son, Woodrow Jr. was making a name for himself in the college football ranks. My three sons were advancing through high school, junior college and senior college.
We often ran into each other at the post office, or I would sit with him on his porch, where we talked many times about our boys. As time went on Woodrow Jr. was advancing to higher and important NCAA coaching levels and my sons had received scholarships to play college baseball. He told me how much his son's football scholarship meant to his family. I also told him that I could never have sent three boys through college without their receiving those four-year college baseball scholarships.
He met and became friends with many well-known SEC and Atlantic Coast College head coaches through his son's involvement. He always spoke well of Gene Stallings, Bobby Bowden and many other well-known coaches throughout the country. He attended many college games where his son was coaching. He told me he was in Birmingham one day and wanted to go by and see my sons Steve and Mark who were playing at UAB. He also wanted to meet Harry 'The Hat' Walker, who was coaching the Blazers at that time. But he was unable to see them that day because the team was playing out of town. He remembered Harry as an outstanding major league player and manager.
He followed Floyd Adams baseball coaching career. He kept up with all the players Floyd coached who later became professional baseball players. He also followed Carl Madison's outstanding football coaching accomplishments and he also followed Charles Madison's son's college and professional baseball careers. Ron Middleton, a former student of his and now a member of Coach Saban's University of Alabama's staff, was very special to him.
He was proud of his Monroe County connections. He often visited friends and family there. I remember several years ago I had to run up to Wilcox County to work some claims from the river overflow. I came back through Beatrice where I stopped to buy gas. But I failed to remember I had only a couple of dollars on me and there were no stations that honored my gas card. No sooner than I realized my situation Professor McCorvey pulled up to the same station. I told him I needed to get a check cashed and he said follow me. I followed him straight to a local business where he vouched for me and I got that check cashed. The owner of that business, who had known him for years, offered words of praise and admiration for him.
Woodrow Jr., who was the pride of his life, began his college career as a quarterback at Alabama State University where he played for four years. This followed four outstanding years as a high school quarterback/running back at Escambia County Training School.
Prior to entering the college ranks, he coached with Floyd Adams at Tate High School from 1972 through 1977. (By the way, I have an excellent column coming out soon on Coach Floyd Adams and his highly successful coaching career). In 1978 Woody entered the college ranks at North Carolina Central and from 1979 through 1982 he became the offensive coordinator at Alabama A&M College in Huntsville.
In 1983 he joined the coaching staff at Clemson University as the wide receivers coach. He served on that staff until 1989.
He joined the staff at the University of Alabama in 1990 as the assistant head coach and offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach. He was on that staff until 1997.
In 1998 he served as wide receivers coach at the University of South Carolina.
Tennessee came calling for him in 1999 through 2003. He was the running backs coach for the Vols during his tenure in Knoxville.
Presently, he is the assistant head coach/offensive coordinator at Mississippi State University, having joined that staff in 2004.
In his professional college coaching career he has coached countless well known players including, Shaun Alexander, Jerious Norwood, Travis Henry, Jamal Lewis, Freddie Kitchens, David Palmer and many more. His affiliation with these colleges carried him to 16 bowl games and 11 conference titles.
Sylvester Croom, the Mississippi State head coach regards Woody as having one of the most brilliant offensive minds in all of college football. He has been considered by several major colleges as 'head coaching material.' Who knows, in the not too distance future he may just get that opportunity. Even those in the pro ranks regard him highly as an offensive minded coach.
I always enjoyed his 'jawing' with the late Ben Haley in their friendly manner about college football. Ben, being a strong Auburn supporter, would like to 'kid' him about Alabama. They both enjoyed their friendly differences regarding these two outstanding state universities
Each time Woody became affiliated with a different college team, his dad would be seen wearing a cap depicting his current college. 'Professor' McCorvey told me one time he had many caps, which represented all the teams Woody was associated with. He offered to give me one of those caps. He said, 'now do you want a Tennessee, South Carolina, Clemson or Alabama cap?' I said 'Professor, you know I'd get run out of the state of Alabama if I were seen with a Tennessee cap on.' He laughed and remarked 'I know, you want that Alabama cap.' I said, 'you got that right' and the Alabama cap was what I got.
I know he would be proud of his son today if he were still alive. I miss those many conversations we had over the years. He was an asset to the entire Atmore area.
Lowell McGill is a historical columnist for The Atmore Advance. He can be reached at

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