Former Ole Miss football All-American Paige Cothren dies

Published 8:54 pm Thursday, September 1, 2016

Ole Miss has lost another football legend with the passing of Jennings Paige Cothren, Sr., 81, who died Thursday at North Mississippi Medical Center in Tupelo after a brief illness.

Visitation will be at First Baptist Church, Houston, Mississippi on Sunday from 1-3 p.m. The funeral will follow at 3 p.m., and burial will be at French Camp Cemetery in French Camp.

Cothren is survived by wife, Daisy Yarbrough of Houston, Mississippi; daughter, Fran Cothren Woody of Knoxville, Tennessee;  son, Jay Cothren (Julie) of Collierville, Tennessee; step-sons, Phil Yarbrough (Felicia) of Jackson, and Scott Yarbrough (Mary) of Nashville, Tennessee; nine grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren; sister Wanda Cothren Orr (Donald) of Vaiden; and his devoted aunt, Wanda Poole of Oxford.

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As a fullback, kicker, cornerback and linebacker, Cothren was one of the most ver­satile players in Ole Miss football history, earning first-team All-America honors in 1956 and a second-team All-America selection in 1955.  He was named first-team All-Southeastern Conference in 1955 and 1956, while also being named to the All-South team in 1955.

Cothren is a member of the famous “Pooles of Ole Miss” family tree which produced over 50 University of Mississippi athletics letters. Three of his uncles – brothers Buster, Ray and Barney Poole – are all members of the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame, and Barney is in the College Football Hall of Fame.  “Poole Drive” on the Ole Miss campus is named in honor of the family.

Cothren, who was inducted into the Ole Miss Athletics Hall of Fame in 1988, helped lead John Vaught’s 1954 and 1955 teams to back-to-back SEC champ­ion­ships.  During his three varsity seasons (1954-56), Ole Miss posted a 26-6 overall record, including a loss to Navy in the Sugar Bowl and a victory over TCU in the Cotton Bowl.  He was the leading Ole Miss rusher in both bowl games.  In the 14-13 Cotton Bowl win against TCU, Cothren gained 79 yards rushing on 12 carries, including a 3-yard touchdown.