CORAL GABLES, Fla. — Jim Kelly still has good days and bad days. He insists that he feels the effects of prayers, even those offered by people he will never meet. His fingers are crossed that an MRI exam scheduled for next week will provide more good signs.
In short, Kelly is still fighting.
What he hears Saturday may help that fight immeasurably.
Before he was a Miami rival in his NFL days, Kelly was a Miami hero as a collegian. The former Hurricanes star is the headline attraction at Miami’s homecoming game this weekend, with the university planning to honor Kelly for both what he’s done on the field and how he’s tackled a daunting series of personal challenges, including cancer.
“It’s humbling. Overwhelming, without a doubt,” Kelly said, of the outpouring of support he’s gotten in recent years. “You don’t realize how many people really care about you. It’s humbling. It makes you feel good and I know I need the prayers. It does mean a lot.”
The Hurricanes have plenty of special events planned to coincide with Saturday’s Atlantic Coast Conference game against North Carolina, including the addition of Russell Maryland and the late Jerome Brown to the school’s football Ring of Honor.
But the star attraction will be Kelly, who got a letter from this year’s Miami team in a show of support over the summer.
Kelly’s battle with cancer began in June 2013, when he had surgery to remove cancerous cells in his upper jaw. The cancer then spread to his sinus in March, and a few weeks ago he was told no signs of the disease are currently present.
RB MIXON ACCEPTS PROBATION: Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon accepted one year of probation after being charged with punching a young woman at a restaurant in July.
Mixon’s attorney, Kevin Finlay, said Thursday that Mixon entered an Alford plea in which he acknowledged there was likely enough evidence to convict him of misdemeanor assault while still asserting his innocence.
Mixon was to go to trial Jan. 12, but Finlay said Mixon “does not want to be a further distraction to his family, friends, teammates, and the University of Oklahoma.” According to court documents, Mixon has agreed to 100 hours of community service, cognitive behavior counseling and payment of court costs.
Mixon, a freshman, was one of the nation’s top recruits and was expected to contend for a starting job.
He is serving a one-year suspension and has not been allowed to participate in team activities since the incident in Norman, Oklahoma.
SCHOOL TO HONOR ‘SHORTY’: Tom “Shorty” McWilliams, a four-time All-Southeastern Conference selection running back, will become the newest member of Mississippi State University’s Football Ring of Honor at Davis Wade Stadium in a halftime ceremony Saturday.
McWilliams will become the sixth Bulldog player to be honored.
McWilliams played for the Bulldogs in 1944 and from 1946-48, earning All-SEC distinction all four years.
Around the nation
The University of North Carolina is spending nearly $800,000 with a public relations firm as it deals with the results of an investigation of academic and athletic problems. ... Texas A&M has not revealed whether Kenny Hill or Kyle Allen will start Saturday against UL-Monroe. ... South Carolina’s leading tackler, linebacker Skai Moore, won’t play against Tennessee because of an ankle injury.