John E. Hoover: Tulsa football player's generous nature is priceless
BY JOHN E. HOOVER World Sports Columnist
Tuesday, December 25, 2012
12/25/12 at 4:30 AM
Go to John E. Hoover's blogOriginal Print Headline: TU star's generous nature is priceless
Cory Dorris wakes up this Christmas morning with a full heart.
The University of Tulsa senior spent Christmas Eve with family at his aunt's house. Today is his day with his dad and brother. On Wednesday, the Golden Hurricane leaves for the Liberty Bowl.
But Dorris went into the holidays already having peaked on Christmas spirit.
Last Friday, he and some teammates on the TU football team handed out holiday gifts at Kendall-Whittier Elementary School. Before that, Dorris spent time helping kids at Celia Clinton Elementary shop for their families - and even helped the kids wrap their gifts.
And last Thursday, Dorris, a first-team All-Conference USA defensive end from Jenks, won Conference USA's prestigious Spirit of Service Award, honoring the community service efforts of student-athletes across the conference.
It was a pinnacle moment in Dorris' life, but he said he learned of the award when a friend congratulated him on Twitter.
Tulsa coach Bill Blankenship said that's just typical Cory Dorris.
"What we're trying to cultivate is a culture of giving," Blankenship said. "Either you're trying to teach and train it, or you already have some guys in it and they're the examples. That's what's fun is that you don't have to try to sell anything to him. He gets it. He just wants to include others in it."
Schnea Nealy, director of student-athlete development at TU, said Dorris has more community service irons in the fire than anyone since probably quarterback Paul Smith in 2007.
"He puts in the time, puts in the money," said Dorris' roommate, quarterback Cody Green, "and really and truly, he loves it."
For the last three years, Dorris has served Big Brothers/Big Sisters as a role model to 12-year-old Sebastian Moser (also one of the Kendall-Whittier students who received gifts on Friday).
Dorris also volunteers for Bit by Bit, a therapeutic equestrian program in Oologah that works with kids who have physical and cognitive disabilities.
And he has served at the Salvation Army and at Camp Dry Gulch, spending time with special-needs children playing basketball, water sports, go-cart racing and arcade and other games.
Recently, Dorris rounded up some teammates and cheerleaders and just showed up at the Salvation Army downtown to hang out with "40 or 50 kids," he said. Naturally, a Hula-Hoop contest broke out.
On campus, he serves on TU's Student-Athlete Advisory Committee.
Dorris is the prototype football player for today's world: a fearsome fighting bull on the field, a gentle nanny off it.
He and older brother Chad were raised by their father, Chris, and their late grandmother, Doris Craig, who died in 2010.
"She was the backbone," Chris Dorris said.
Blankenship said Cory Dorris is simply doing what he can to "pay it forward."
"I've been given so much," Dorris said, "I just feel like it'd be wrong for me to not give back. I know that sounds corny or whatever, but that's honestly how I feel."
Think his dad is just a little bit proud?
"Oh, you have no clue," Chris Dorris said. "Cory, he was raised without a mother. I was the momma and daddy, and I guess tried to instill what I could on him and he just took it ran with it. He's done such a good job.
"I tell you, a dad couldn't be prouder of his kid than I am of Cory."
Cory confirms his munificence comes from his father.
"The way I grew up, my dad's always been busy. He's always been a hard worker," Dorris said. "But no matter how hard he works, no matter how hard he's done anything, that's the way my whole family is. We'll give the shirt off our back if you need it. It's as simple as that. If you need help in any way, we'll drop whatever it is and go all-out and help you out.
"My dad always taught me, if you can, help someone. I can, so why not? Why would I spend my Saturdays off playing video games or doing something else whenever I can go down the street and hang out with my Little Brother?"
Of all his charitable ventures, the best times are hanging out with Sebastian.
"You get this kid and Cory together and it's just funny how they interact," Green said. "Cory loves him to death, and you can see it."
Dorris also loves bringing majestic horses together with autistic children at Rogers State University's therapeutic riding center.
"It's really cool," Dorris said. "I just hang around with little kids and walk around them with horses and talk to 'em. It's just ... it's awesome. I don't really know how else to explain it."
The Liberty Bowl will be Dorris' 52nd career game at TU, his 51st start. There can't be many players in the history of major-college football who have played more games than Dorris.
"It's a real accomplishment on his part," his dad said. "I'm glad he doesn't have the same attitude off the field that he does on the field. He runs his mouth all the time.
"But he's got a great attitude for life."
TU senior defensive end Cory Dorris receives a hug from his "Little Brother" Sebastian Moser, 12, while handing out TU sweaters to students at Kendall-Whittier Elementary School on Friday. JAMES GIBBARD / Tulsa World
TU senior football players Cory Dorris (left) and Chris Hummingbird introduce themselves to students at Kendall-Whittier Elementary School before handing out TU sweaters to them on Friday. JAMES GIBBARD/Tulsa World