Toni Harris has never let anything slow her down. The Detroit native has been playing football since the age of six and played high school football at Redford Union High School. Harris played cornerback and wide receiver in high school, but her collegiate playing career is at safety, according to ABC News.
After signing with Central Methodist University, Harris became the first female non-kicker to sign a letter of intent. Adams State kicker Becca Longo became the first female to sign a letter of intent at a Division II school or higher. Shelly Osborne played defensive back at Campbellsville University, but she was only on a partial scholarship.
Central Methodist was not the only school to offer Harris a scholarship as Bethany College and three other schools also offered her scholarship. She was featured in Toyota’s Super Bowl ad this season and hopes other girls will follow in her footsteps.
Harris played at East Los Angeles College, but she had problems finding a junior college that would let her play football.
“A lot of coaches didn’t believe me,” Harris said. “A coach told me, ‘Nobody’s ever going to play you to be at the next level.’ In the end, you’ve got to push yourself. I’m going to focus on my goals.”
She had three tackles with one for loss in 2018 but missed all of 2017.
Central Methodist went 4-6 in 2018, losing the last two games of the season. Harris will look to contend for playing time in an Eagles’ secondary that lost two players to graduation. Her ultimate goal is to make the NFL, but the road ahead will be tough for the 5-foot-7, 164-pound safety playing for a small school in Missouri.
“The NFL is the dream,” Harris said. “I’m going to be working toward that until the death of me. Whether I go drafted or undrafted, I’m pretty sure I’m going to keep my faith and God is going to take me there.”
She has already made history by signing with Central Methodist, but Harris wants to make history as the first woman in the NFL.