Sept. 7, 2011
The following is a part of an ongoing series of feature stories that appear in the Southern Miss Kickoff Magazine. These stories premiere at every Southern Miss home football game and highlight a senior Golden Eagle football player.
Maintaining "Law" and order.
By Kyle Neaves, Asst. Director of Media Relations
The sounds and memories of the early morning of November 14, 2010 will not soon be forgotten by members of the Southern Miss football team. Gunshots, screams and sirens will forever be associated with the incident that injured three members of the Golden Eagle family: Tim Green, Deddrick Jones and Martez Smith. For senior defensive end Cordarro Law, it's the silence that haunted him the most.
Cordarro Law came out of Sumter County High School in York, Ala., as a lightly recruited defensive end prospect with tremendous upside. Considered a sleeper prospect by many, Law committed to the first FBS program that offered him a scholarship under then head coach Jeff Bower. However, his decision to leave the confines of the state of Alabama wasn't without argument.
"It was a long a process. I'm from Alabama and my family was really in favor of my staying in the state," said Law. "I came on my official visit here and the players really showed me a great time, and I really liked (the campus and atmosphere) when I came."
As a true freshman, the then 6-foot-3, 230 lbs., Law took his redshirt year under the tutelage of then defensive coordinator Jay Hopson. After a year of studying the playbook, current coach Larry Fedora brought in Todd Bradford to lead the defense. Law adapted and as a redshirt freshman learned his second new playbook in as many years.
In his three years under the Bradford defense, Law was able to establish himself as one of the top defensive players in the league, and in 2010, he became the school's all-time leader in forced fumbles - a mark he readily acknowledges. However, there is still one mark still to reach.
"I have the all-time forced fumbles record and I'm not far off the all-time sack record. (Adalius Thomas) owns that mark and I want to catch him," Law said. "When you come in, you want to be known as one of the best players to come through so setting that record would help me accomplish that."
This season, Law will learn another new playbook and scheme, his third in five years, under new defensive coordinator Dan Disch. Again, he will adapt. For Law though, getting off the ball, rushing past an offensive lineman and dropping the quarterback in the backfield is one of the most exhilarating, instinctive experiences in all of football.
"The roar of the crowd when you get to the quarterback is one of the greatest feelings in the world," said a smiling Law. "It's one of the highest of the highs when you play football."
It's that same crowd that you will often see the senior leaping into before and after Golden Eagle football games. Something - he says - that happens almost instinctively.
"I don't know really how I end up there," he says with a laugh. "I guess things just happen like that. That's one of the things I like to do to make the fans and the students feel appreciated. I want them to feel like they are a part of this team as much as possible."
However, if you want to be a part of Law's world, to know what it's like to play his position and know who he is, know that there is one way to refer to him and one way only - "The Law."
"Even at school, I didn't like my first name," he adds. "When I say it, it just seems funny coming out my mouth. So, that's why I just go by `Law' and a lot of people think that's just a nickname that people gave me. They don't really think it's my last name. It's an attitude I think I am able to play with - an extra bit of intensity."
And so, we've come full circle, back to the night where three of Law's teammates were gunned down, their lives pushed to the brink, when a young man came home to an empty apartment while three of his teammates lie in hospital beds.
Because you see, Tim Green and Martez Smith were more than just teammates and friends of Law. They were also his two roommates. To come home to an empty, quiet, motionless apartment was, for the Whitfield, Ala., native more than just unsettling. It was frightening.
"There were a lot of scary nights - lots of scary nights," Law said with a calm demeanor. "I actually never stayed a night at home alone when that happened. I didn't stay there one night when it happened. I just...wasn't used to going home to a quiet house. It just felt strange."
While his teammates were able to grieve in their homes with their roommates, Law was left without anyone to go home to. His two roommates were in the hospital fighting for their lives, fighting to regain their strength.
In the coming weeks, it became known that all three men would survive, but their seasons were clearly done. So when Smith, the lone senior, came to Law with the request that he wear his No. 32 jersey in what would have been Smith's final game as a Golden Eagle - the 2010 Beef `O' Brady's Bowl - it was, for Law, an honor.
"It was something that he came to me and said he wanted - for me to honor him," recalls Law. "That would have been his last game with the team and we all wanted to be sure No. 32 was on the field with us that day."
Law credits the strength of his family and community for his own power. His mother, Veronica, comes to every Southern Miss home game, and his girlfriend, Lashanti, with whom he has been with since ninth grade and shares a child with, aptly named Cordarro Law, Jr. (or Little Law, if you'd like), have been by his side each step of the way. His hometown community, Whitfield, has also been there, to share in his successes and his sorrows. For all of their support, Law is forever grateful.
So for all that the silence scared him, as Golden Eagle fans on this day, remember that the roar of the crowd and the energy that you as fans provide is what maintains, "The Law."