Former Lebanon High assistant principal/athletic director Melvin Daniels died Saturday. He was 62.
Mr. Daniels was a lifelong resident of Rutherford County where he also spent most of his professional career as an educator and coach. But he spent several years at LHS in the 1990s after a long coaching career at rival Oakland High.
“He did a great job there,” said Wilson County mayor Randall Hutto, who was a teacher, boys’ basketball coach and football assistant at LHS during Mr. Daniels’ tenure there. “Mr. D could talk to anybody and get them straight all across the board with his charisma. He handled all the discipline.”
Mr. Daniels coached track at Oakland and, on the football staff, coached the defensive backs. His son, D.J., was a DB in the late ‘80s when the Patriots and the Blue Devils hooked up in a pair of memorable gridiron battles.
“He was a great coach in the secondary because he taught man,” said Hutto, who recalled the 1988 game at Middle Tennessee State’s Jones Field where both teams were highly ranked. There was such a demand for tickets fans were still lined at the gate when the teams left the field for halftime, Hutto recalled.
Mr. Daniels played on Jones Field for old Murfreesboro Central High and MTSU, where he came in a year after Lebanon’s Loharrel Stevenson integrated the Blue Raider football team, and by extension, the Ohio Valley Conference. Stevenson said Mr. Daniels, who had been a running back, became the first black quarterback at MTSU and in the OVC.
“He was a fantastic person, my friend,” said Stevenson, noting they shared a quad in the dorm.
They also opposed each other in high school.
“I had a chance to catch a touchdown pass and, without touching me, he batted the ball away,” Stevenson said.
A funeral service will be held at noon Saturday at First Baptist Church in Murfreesboro. Visitation with the family will be held from 6-8 p.m. Friday at the church. Nelson & Sons Funeral Chapel [931-685-4200, www.nelsonandsons.net] is in charge of arrangements.