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Daughter of Spartan football legend honors dad with documentary

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In the 1960s, MSU football coach Duffy Daughterty made the first major recruiting efforts to bring African-American players from the deep south into the sport…players who could not be admitted to segregated schools. That pool of talent wound up bringing championships to East Lansing. Maya Washington is the daughter of one of those players, Gene Washington. She’s making a documentary film about her dad called “Through the Banks of the Red Cedar.”Think about the 1967 NFL draft: Bubba Smith #1, Clint Jones #2, George Webster #5 and Gene Washington #8. Four of the first eight players drafted! Smith’s football coach father, Willie Ray Smith, had told coach Daugherty that he should also recruit Gene Washington.

Current State’s Scott Pohl talks with the Washingtons about the project. Maya Washington grew up in Minnesota where her dad starred for the Vikings. She says she didn’t really know the impact MSU had on his life and the lives of his teammates until Bubba Smith died in 2011.

Scott Pohl is a general assignment news reporter and produces news features and interviews. He is also an alternate local host on NPR's "Morning Edition."
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