Benny Goff almost didn’t make the football team at Mississippi Gulf Coast Junior College, but his persistence got him on that team.
His excellence there and accomplishments after earned him a spot in the MACJC Sports Hall of Fame. Goff was inducted with 14 other members in the 2015 class during ceremonies in Pearl on April 28.
Goff, a Hurley native, graduated from East Central High School and tried out at Perkinston.
“They cut me, said I was too little,” he said. “I said, 'Will you let me play if I pay my way.' They didn’t think I’d come back. I came back that Sunday with a trunk. I slept on a fold-up canvas Army cot for a semester.
“I started the third ballgame. The next spring, they moved me to wide out. That was a marriage made in heaven.”
He played defensive back in 1964 as a sophomore, then won the C.S. Wentzell Award as the team’s outstanding player in 1965. He set school records in receptions (65) and yards gained (895), which earned him first-team All-State honors.
Goff said he loved the small-town atmosphere at Gulf Coast. It nourished him athletically and academically. It kept him focused on school, and it let him develop relationships.
His next step in education was nearly derailed, too, for a different reason. Delta State offered him a scholarship, but not for his first spring semester. They had patched together some financial aid for him, but he was going to be $100 short.
Goff didn’t have the $100. Assistant coach Ken “Curly” Farris asked him over and over if he was going to go to Delta State, and over and over Goff told him no.
“The next Sunday afternoon, he came in there and said, ‘Goff, are you going to Delta State?’” Goff said. “I said, ‘No, sir, I don’t have $100.’ He threw $100 on the bed and said somebody in Gulfport thinks you’re worth $100.
“Tell me that’s not people taking care of people. Only in a little place like that where people get to know who you are, would you get that opportunity.”
Goff graduated from Delta State with a degree in business administration after two years playing defensive back. He led the Statesmen with seven interceptions as a senior.
He went on to coach in junior high and high school for nine years, then did some farming. Goff worked in the Jackson County Park Commission where he was executive director.
That led him to run for and be elected Jackson County tax assessor, a position he will retire from this year after five terms.
Goff, who was elected to the MGCCC Athletic Hall of Fame in 2001, said in retirement he’ll tend his herd of cattle and spend time with his Bible study group at Caswell Springs United Methodist Church.
Goff, the son of Louise Cochran Goff and the late Luther Goff Sr., is married to the former Mary Ann McArthur Jones. They have five children, six grandchildren and one great grandchild.
He’s built quite the life on the start he got at Mississippi Gulf Coast.
“There’s no way to describe what the school at Perkinston, Miss., gave me” Goff said. “It gave me a chance, not only to play, but to go to school. Had it not been for the vehicle of football, I wouldn’t have. I wouldn’t have had the money to do it.
“It was one of those things that was meant to be. All the time I thought I was doing it myself, but God had His hand on the whole operation.”