From the moment he stepped on campus, 320-pound tackle Michael Oher seemed destined to be a star on Mississippi’s football team and a failure in its classrooms.
Oher was the son of a crack-addicted single mom, and as a teen could barely read. His educational record – 11 schools in nine years as he moved from home to home in Memphis – read like an indictment of a failed education system.
But four years later, at a school that graduates fewer than 60 percent of all students within six years, Oher has cleared every hurdle and nearly earned his degree – all that stands between him and graduation are a final semester and workouts for the NFL draft.
“I haven’t struggled a bit in college,” the All-American offensive lineman says. “It’s been a breeze.”
It’s a tribute to Oher’s determination and character, to be sure.
His story also says something about the state of big-time college athletics.
Like a lot of other athletes at Ole Miss and elsewhere, Oher got not only tutoring help but a full range of academic support services throughout his career. At Ole Miss, 14 full-time staffers line up tutors for student-athletes, help them choose classes, monitor study halls and check attendance. More than 60 percent of the Rebels’ 390 athletes receive at least some tutoring, and together they averaged about 1,000 sessions a week this fall.
Such services are not unusual.
Oher was featured in the recent book “Blindside“.