If Eric Mims’ transition into the broadcast booth goes anything like his playing career, then Jacksonville State football fans are in for a real treat.
Longtime color analyst Ray Hammett announced his retirement from the Gamecock Football Network earlier this week, and Mims has been tapped as his replacement for the 2020 season.
A former All-America defensive back at JSU, Mims will team with play-by-play announcer Mike Parris, who Hammett worked alongside for 19 seasons, calling some of the most memorable moments in the school’s storied football history.
When reached by phone Wednesday night, Mims praised the work of Parris and Hammett, calling the duo “a good team.” He said it was an honor to be asked to take over for Hammett.
Mims has no prior radio broadcasting experience and said he would rely on the veteran Parris, who has been calling games at JSU since 1983, to ease his transition into the booth.
“It’ll be new for me, but like anything, if you have a good mentor, you’ll be OK,” Mims said. “With Mike being in the business so long, hopefully I can just jump on his back and he’ll carry me to the finish line every night.”
Mims, who graduated from Wellborn High School, may be a rookie in the booth this fall, but that doesn’t mean he won’t be ready when the Gamecocks hit the field for the first time this season. He’s already started formulating a plan to prepare for the role.
“You get connected to as many people as you know in the business and you ask a bunch of questions,” he said. “You get with a lot of football coaches and you ask a bunch of questions.”
Mims said he’d also be able to lean on his playing experience to break down film and understand what each team is trying to do both offensively and defensively.
“It’s just going back to the basics of being a defensive back, and understanding the systems that are in place,” he said.
Mims said his preparation will also involve going back and listening to what Parris and Hammett have done in the past. Many of those sound bites should already be familiar to Mims, as the duo called games throughout his JSU playing career from 1994-97.
It’s been more than 20 years since Mims donned a Gamecocks’ uniform, but the 2017 inductee into the JSU Hall of Fame still holds several of the school’s defensive records. His 378 career tackles rank first in JSU history, as does the single-season mark of 145 he set in 1997.
The best game of Mims’ career came on Sept. 14, 1996, when he racked up a staggering 33 tackles against Nicholls State.
That performance established another school record, and with numbers like that, it’s easy to envision Mims’ ability to break down a solid tackle from the broadcast booth.
Luckily for Mims, with Parris in tow, it’s unlikely he’ll have to be relied upon that heavily this time around.
“I’ll just have to follow his lead,” Mims said. “I told him I’m going to be an apprentice.”