College football player who hopes to become first woman in NFL signs with Missouri university

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FAYETTE, Mo. — Female football player Toni Harris, who was featured in Toyota’s Super Bowl ad, made history this week when she became the first woman at a skill position to sign a letter of intent.

Harris, who plays safety, accepted a scholarship to play at Central Methodist University in Fayette, Missouri. The university is north of Boonville.

The young woman played football at East Los Angeles College for the past two seasons. She was the first-ever female football player at the college— and one of few women to play at the collegiate level nationwide.

The free safety dreams of one day becoming the first woman in the NFL.

Toyota recently featured her in a 60-second RAV4 spot during the Super Bowl that played on the obstacles and criticism she’s overcome to make it as far as she has, depicting her using a mascara wand to put on eye black as a child.

In the ad voice over sportscaster Jim Nantz pointed out that people have made a lot of assumptions about her. “But I’ve never been a big fan of assumptions,” she says.

Toni Harris is seen in undated photos released by East Los Angeles College.
Toni Harris is seen in undated photos released by East Los Angeles College.

Harris, now a sophomore, began playing football when she was about 6 years old in her hometown of Detroit, Michigan.

In an interview on CBS’ “This Morning,” she said those around her weren’t “too fond” of her playing the sport and voiced concern she could get hurt too easily playing with boys.

“What motivates me most to play is people telling me that I can’t,” she said. “I love to prove people wrong.”

And that’s what she’s been doing since. In high school, she was selected as Homecoming Queen while also playing a big role on the field.

“It’s 80 percent mental and only 20 percent physical, so you have to have a different mentality to play the game football,” she told CBS.

The defensive back has been integral to ELAC’s success since joining the team in 2017, Head Football Coach Bobby Godinez said in a news release from the school.

“Toni Harris has shown great resolve in her journey and quest to be a college football player,” he said, adding that the team wished her “the best in her journey beyond ELAC.”

Harris, who’s also an honors student, received several scholarship offers to further her football career.

She is one of the first females on a collegiate roster not to play kicker and to receive a scholarship, according to ESPN.

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