Mine is definitely sports related! In the book I wrote recently, I tell the story about my sophomore year. I was starting at football and we were about to play Florida in Gainesville. My position coach called me in and was telling me I’m the top receiver (that’s always good to hear)! He basically was giving me a pep talk. We played that game in “The Swamp” and Florida killed us. They were great that year. They had an amazing defense as well as Emmitt Smith running the ball on offense and beat us 34-11. I remember coming back after the game and got called into an individual meeting. My coach said to me that others were complaining about me and told me that they’re moving me from first string to 3rd string. Things were the very the opposite of what they said before and I didn’t understand, but after a player quit, I ended up playing again. In fact for the rest of my playing days, Clarence Sevillian (Bunk) and I ran plays in every other play and became best friends. Being a 19 year old kid in college, it was a real wake up call. I realized that College Athletics was a business and saw the politics and everything that plays along and it made me change how I was going through life. I was always a really good student in High-School, but college was a different story. After struggling a bit up until this point, I then became much more serious with my academics, especially after I realized that I most likely wouldn’t be going to the NFL. I went from a struggling student athlete in the classroom to an Academic All SEC. It was so competitive in the classroom and I needed not just the wake up call in class, but also on the field to open my eyes to my education. The trajectory I was on in College really set the trajectory for where I am today. College academics and athletics is not easy. You need to adjust quickly for change and many times there are setbacks but that doesn’t mean you can’t have success! I had one of the best educations in America and eventually became a better student. On the field, I contributed in other ways than being a star player. I became a team leader and for the past 26 years I’ve been giving back to student athletes that are on the same path as I was over 30 years ago.
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I tell guys and girls today to get outside your comfort zone. Connect and build relationships with others who aren’t jocks and ball players. Go and get to know others as you never know how those connections might help for your future. The world is a different place today and it’s going to stay that way so go and get to know people that are different than yourself.
I also talk to younger students all the time and tell them to not forget who they are and where they come from as well as to embrace their own process. There are too many “over night success stories” where people get famous quickly with no process to it. I’d say to those kids out there to not compare yourself with these others and to create their own path. It’s not easy to do as this process may take longer, but it builds a better foundation for who you are as a person.