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Can’t Miss game

Valencia High graduate Michael Herrick returns to the University of Mississippi to play former team

Posted: November 4, 2009 8:44 p.m.
Updated: November 5, 2009 4:30 a.m.

Valencia High graduate and Northern Arizona University quarterback Michael Herrick has thrown for 2,472 yards and 18 touchdowns this season.

If it’s the biggest football game of his life, he won’t admit it.

Valencia High graduate Michael Herrick finally gets to start a game at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in Oxford, Miss., albeit not for the school he originally intended to start for.

Herrick will lead Northern Arizona of the Football Championship Subdivision (Division I-AA) into Oxford to play his former team — Division I-A Mississippi.

“This being a busy week and being part of my past, I’m thankful to God I still have an opportunity to play football,” Herrick said. “It’s going to be exciting. It’s more exciting for the team, though. I know a lot of people and the media will make it about me, but it will be a fun experience for the team to go into that stadium.”

Herrick earned a scholarship to Ole Miss after one of the greatest high school football careers in California history.

He threw for a state record 11,022 passing yards between 2003 and 2005. He also owns the state’s completion (808) and attempts (1,278) records.

He served as a backup with the Rebels in 2006 and 2007 with hopes of one day taking over as the team’s starting quarterback.

But there were signs that it would never happen, including the addition of Jevan Snead, who transferred from Texas in 2007.

In Nov. 2007, Herrick informed the Mississippi coaching staff that he was leaving the school.

He latched on with Northern Arizona before the 2008 season not knowing that the Lumberjacks would one day play Mississippi.

And he has thrived.

After sharing time last season, Herrick has been the No. 1 quarterback at Northern Arizona. He is fifth in passing yardage in Division I-AA with 2,472.

He also has 18 touchdowns to just five interceptions this season in leading the Lumberjacks to a 5-3 mark.

“That’s all I ever wanted,” Herrick said of an opportunity to play. “When I left Ole Miss, I didn’t feel like I’d get an opportunity.
Sometimes things go your way and they have for me.”

Both teams are coming off losses — Northern Arizona lost 27-24 last Saturday to Sacramento State, Ole Miss (5-3) lost 33-20 to Auburn.

Ole Miss head coach Houston Nutt, who never coached Herrick, deflected a question about the Valencia High graduate in his Monday press conference.

Snead, the Rebels’ starting quarterback, didn’t, saying: “First of all, he’s a good player and from what I’ve heard he’s been doing really well. He’s a good person too. I just remember him as a good guy and a good player. I look forward to seeing him.”

Herrick said he’s not nervous, but he might be on Saturday.

His father, Greg Herrick, said he will be at the game on Saturday and knows deep down inside, his son might want to prove something in the game.

“It can’t be about him personally trying to beat them or him trying to put up better stats,” Greg said.

But Michael Herrick understands this.

Northern Arizona will go in as a heavy underdog, yet odds have not been set for the game.

The game is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Pacific Standard Time.

It can be seen on, ESPN Game Plan and CSS.



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