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Coker receives Headliner Special Award


OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Larry Coker, the Okemah native who played football for Northeastern State University, was honored at the March of Dimes sports banquet after coaching the University of Miami to the college football national championship.

Coker, 53, received the Headliner Special Award on Sunday night.

He said he dreamed only of coaching a large high school in Oklahoma after playing college football.

``I never set my sights so high that I thought I'd be head coach at the University of Miami,'' he said. ``What I really wanted to do was coach at a large high school. I knew I wanted to coach and be at the highest level I could.''

Coker was hired at Miami when Butch Davis left to become coach of the NFL Cleveland Browns. It was his first head coaching job since being head man six years at Fairfax and two years at Claremore high schools.

Miami was 12-0 the past season and won the national championship in Coker's first year as head coach.

A group of Coker's former high school players, as well as a contingent from NSU, attended the banquet.

Coker has a new five-year contract at Miami and hopes to finish his career with the Hurricanes.

``I am certainly pleased with my contract,'' he said. ``I don't anticipate somebody in a helicopter flying over the practice field and giving me a lot of money to coach their (pro) team.''

Miami appears in good shape for another national championship run in 2002.

``We only had 12 seniors last season with 22 juniors,'' Coker said. ``We had three juniors declare early for the draft: tight end Jeremy Shockey of Ada, running back Clinton Portis and cornerback Phillip Buchanon. Losing those three will hurt, but we have a good nucleus with 19 seniors coming back.''
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