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Fathers Know Best
September 12, 2008

By Wendell Barnhouse
Big 12 Correspondent

When they finally got together on campus before the 2007 season, five members of Baylor's recruiting class started talking about their common bonds. Matt Singletary, Chris Francis, V.J. McElroy, Elliot Coffey and Cliff Odom are all sons of NFL players.

"We're all really close," said Odom, a sophomore cornerback. "When we first got here last year, we shared a lot of our experiences. Some of them were the same, others were different. It was really cool to get to do that. They're all good guys from good families."

Singletary, a receiver who sat out last season as a redshirt, is the son of Baylor's most iconic player - linebacker Mike Singletary. Francis' father James was also an outstanding linebacker for the Bears.

"I'm not worried about measuring up to my dad's career," said Francis, a sophomore linebacker who backs up starter Joe Pawelek. "I wanted to stay close to home and I wanted to come to a school where I could play early. I was in a really good recruiting class and I think we'll be part of getting things turned around here."

McElroy's fathter Vann also played at Baylor and owns the career record for interceptions.

Odom's father played at Texas-Arlington (before the school dropped the sport) while Coffey's dad played at Southwest Texas State.

Odom and Francis both have memories of their dad's NFL careers.

"I went to a lot of practices," said Francis, whose uncle Ron Francis also played for Baylor and with the Dallas Cowboys. "When I was like in pre-K, kindergarden, my dad would ask me if I wanted to go to school or come to practice with him. I always chose practice. I'd go in the locker room, run around on the field."

As a youngster, Odom was the Wristband Burglar. He'd come out on the practice field after borrowing wrist bands and t-shirts from the lockers of his dad's teammates.

"I wanted to like one of the players," Odom said. "I'd put my dad's helmet on after practice ... I'd fall over because it was too big and I was too small."

Cliff Odom's NFL career ended in 1993.

"One of my best memories was what turned out to be his last home game when he was with the Dolphins," the younger Odom said. "He took me out on the field and we were just throwin' the ball around. I was about four or five, I guess. I just remember looking around, seeing how big the stadium was.

"He told me later that he wanted to have a memory for both of us."

All Francis knows about his father's Baylor's career is what he's told. Chris has also heard his father talk about his basketball career with the Bears. "He kinda brags on himself, but he was the team's sixth man of the year," Chris Francis said. "I play against him, one-on-one. He takes me down in the low post all the time. That's how he beats me."

The Baylor fivesome was recruited by former coach Guy Morriss and now they're playing for a new coaching staff headed by Art Briles. And they're still following their father's footsteps.

"I catch myself some times realizing that I'm playing college football," Cliff Odom said. "It's kind of surreal I'm following his path."

Baylor's sons and fathers

Baylor player Father NFL team(s)
Matt Singletary Mike Bears
Chris Francis* James Bengals
V.J. McElroy Vann Raiders/Seahawks
Elliott Coffey Ken Redskins
Cliff Odom Cliff Browns/Colts/Dolphins
* _ uncle, Ron Francis, also played for the Dallas Cowboys from 1987-90.

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