Michael Haddix

MICHAEL HADDIX

After leaving Mississippi State as one of the greatest running backs in program history, Michael Haddix hoped to leave a legacy that extended far beyond his accomplishments on the field.

"It is an honor to be inducted into the M-Club Hall of Fame," Haddix said. "It means I was appreciated while I was here. I am being recognized not only for the talent I brought on the field but for my character and demeanor off the field as a student-athlete. That is one thing I don't think people realize. You are not just an athlete. You are a role model, and you influence a lot of young people."

On the field, Haddix sits atop the Mississippi State record books after rushing for an average of 6.0 yards per carry during his time in Starkville. He also finished his career second in rushing yards (2,558) and 100-yard games (10).

The two-time All-SEC selection amassed 22 touchdowns and tallied 724, 622 and 813 yards in the seasons from 1980-1982, landing him among the top five rushers in the conference during the respective seasons.

Haddix, the Bulldogs' leading rusher from 1980-82, was selected to play in the Hula, Senior, and Blue-Grey All-Star games following his senior season. He was a member of the 1981 team that posted an 8-4 record, defeated Kansas in the Hall of Fame Bowl and finished at No. 17 in the final rankings.

The Walnut, Mississippi native, recalls his fondest memory in Maroon and White when he and his team defeated No. 1 Alabama, 6-3, on Nov. 1, 1980, one of the greatest victories in program history.

"That was probably the most exciting moment of football I ever experienced at Mississippi State," Haddix said. "Alabama was the powerhouse, and we were just a bunch of guys out there trying to make a name for ourselves. When we won that game, people started to take notice of us."

In 1983, Haddix became the highest drafted Bulldog running back in the modern era when the Philadelphia Eagles drafted him eighth overall. Haddix went on to play six seasons with the Eagles before finishing the last two years of his career with the Green Bay Packers.

Football wasn't a part of the original plan for Haddix. After retiring from the gridiron, he finally had the opportunity to do what he set out to do; make a difference in the world.

Haddix turned his attention to building a legacy outside of sports. He earned his master's degree in Administration of Human Service at Wilmington University in Delaware, with a focus in the juvenile justice system and at-risk children.

"I had no idea that football would take me where it took me, because at Mississippi State, I was focused on getting my degree and what I would do after college with my education," Haddix said. "As time went on, football started evolving for me. I really wanted to dispel the myth that all athletes can do is be a coach or teach."

Life hasn't always been easy for Haddix. When he was nine years old, his parents tragically passed away during a car accident, leaving his grandparents and uncles to raise him. It was never a question of if he was going to get an education because his grandmother instilled in him, the importance of a degree at a very young age. Due to his circumstances, Haddix entered college mature for his age and with a greater purpose of being there. His purpose shined through the work he did both on the field and in the classroom.

"I hope people can look at me and recognize my success in professional sports as well as in life. I hope they can look back and say I was a father to my kids, a model in the community, an athlete, a student of the game and a student in the classroom. I want people to see that I was a student while I played the game, but that was not all I was made of."

Haddix's induction into the Mississippi State Sports Hall of Fame this weekend will solidify his standing as not only one of the greatest running backs in Mississippi State history but as a man who has exemplified what it means to be a Bulldog both during his time at State and beyond.

dillon.barnes@journalinc.com

Twitter: @SS_Sports_

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