Toni Harris is making history.
After appearing in one of the most discussed Super Bowl 53 ads, she is going to play football in college, becoming one of the first women to do so.
The athlete, who starred in Toyota’s commercial this year, announced on Wednesday plans to play football at Central Methodist University in Fayette, Mo., next year. CMU is a Division I NAIA school in the Heart of America conference.
With the decision, Harris is the first skill-position player female to sign a letter of intent to play college football with a scholarship, according to the university.
Harris, a 5-foot-7 free safety, had been playing at East Los Angeles College. She gained national notoriety with her role in the Toyota commercial and was interviewed by national outlets including Sports Illustrated, CNN and NBC News.
Although other women have played football at the collegiate level — Shelby Osbourne signed as defensive back at Campbellsville University in 2014 — Harris is reported to be the first with a scholarship. No woman has played in the NFL, which Harris says is her ultimate goal.
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“I feel like I keep doing what I’m doing and keep having faith in God, I can keep paving the way for little girls everywhere,” she told the Detroit Free Press. “I believe I’m going to be the first female NFL player. But if it just so happens that I’m not, I want to make sure there’s a way paved for the next little girl that can get there.”
One thing’s for sure: Harris is building up more name recognition than the average collegiate, and she will likely have significant sponsorship opportunities should she make it to the NFL.
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