I was once again converted to play corner-back, I always returned kicks, and I made then dean list during my time there. After my college career was up I was blessed enough to get a shot to play in the NFL. I was signed as a free agent by the Jacksonville Jaguars! The Jaguars released me and brought me back a month later to play again. It was pretty much a roller coaster. After my second release, I was picked up off the waiver wire by the Detroit Lions! It was an was an amazing experience to be around stars by the name of Calvin Johnson, Ndamukong Suh, and many others. After the Lions released me I started my professional indoor career with the Green Bay Blizzard.
I made the deans list ever since then. Football and school taught me a life lesson. It gave me the self motivation and willingness to be a better man in life and I wouldn’t change any of it. I played the game because I love to compete and always wanted to be the best at my job no matter what it was.
4 Year Pro | D1-FCS All-American
2010: Started all 11 games...became first punt returner in school history to earn All-American honors...led the FCS by averaging 22.8 yards per punt return...earned National Punt Returner of the Week honors by the CFPA after returning a punt 91 yards for a touchdown against UT Martin...followed it up with a 71-yard punt return for touchdown against Jacksonville State...ranked second on the team with 67 tackles...added team-high eight pass break-ups and intercepted two passes...posted 10 tackles against Southeast Missouri...recorded first interception against Eastern Kentucky...registered 10 tackles, had three pass break-ups and blocked two kicks against Tennessee Tech...returned an interception 25 yards for a touchdown against Austin Peay...posted season-high 11 tackles in finale against Tennessee State.
BEFORE MSU: Two-year letterwinner for hea coach Lucas Aslin at Garden City Community College...earned First-Team All-Jayhawk League honors after recording 43 tackles, with three interceptions and six pass break-ups as a sophomore...also averaged 24.5 yards on eight kickoff returns...registered 45 tackles, three pass break-ups and forced three fumbles as a freshman...added eight interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns.
HIGH SCHOOL: Played for head coach Tim Cokely at Colquitt County High School...earned first-team all-state honors as a senior...first-team all-region selection as a junior and senior.
I ultimately chose to attend Kearney and it ended up being a great decision on my part. I took a red shirt my first year there and that allowed me to mature physically, put on some weight in the weight room and mentally adjust to college life away from home before competing in games. I was lucky enough to play for coaches and with teammates who set me up for success and together we had a playoff run in 2009 and won 2 conference championships. Being at a small school and in a small community has its benefits and downfalls. You're not in the national lime light like a lot of big schools but that doesn't mean you can't get national attention. You can fit in and feel like a normal student easier. But the opportunities are absolutely there to further your playing career as well. The biggest knock is being labeled a small school athlete, but many players like Danny Woodhead or Adam Thielen are proving small school kids can make huge impacts. And there are dozens of other levels to compete at after college as well.
I was not a highly recruited athlete coming out of High School. I went to both the Kansas State and Iowa State football camps the summer of 2002. I did quite well compared to the top athletes there like Robert Meachem at the Kansas State camp and Brett Meyer and Milan Moses at the Iowa State camp. Our big recruiting service then was Rivals.com and maybe scout.com but if you did not go to the Nike sponsored camps or have some major relative in your lineage or coaching staff you weren't going to be highly recruited.
It didn't help that my high school “Northeast Academy (OKC)” was historically terrible. None the less I was still able to lead Class 5a in receiving yards with 1,206 yards and I was top 5 in the entire state. That earned me spots on the All City, All District teams and Class by Class All Star in the state of Oklahoma. Was even announced as a All State game alternate and eventually got the call to go play at the All State game in Tulsa.
Despite the success at the camps and the monster season my recruitment was minimal. I was receiving letters but no real interest. Then one night I got a call from coach Roark from SMU. He told us that the local coaches in the area had brought me up while talking to them and he actually came and visited my house and had dinner with my dad and I. It was a high and low. We were in a one bedroom apartment at that time. I could see him sizing the place up and I was low key embarrassed but he really enjoyed watching my highlight tape and showed genuine interest. He asked about my ACT score and I had no clue what he was talking about.
Long story short, I had not taken the ACT yet and that is what stopped them from offering me a scholarship.
At that moment is where my journey began.
I had taken the final ACT of the year before signing day and got a 16. I only needed a 18 for the scholarship. I was devastated but did not show it to anyone. I was so desperate to play college football that I almost signed with Bacone College. A NAIA school in Oklahoma. My dad was not having that and took me to a spring practice at NEO A&M Junior College in Miami, Oklahoma. I was told it would be another opportunity to work on my skills and get recruited all over again.
After that trip, I signed with NEO and could not wait for fall camp.
Or so I thought.
My first day at NEO at our first meeting it was at least 120 guys out there, we got yelled at disrespectfully and then had to go run 16 110’s. I was thinking, what did I get myself into, it felt militaryish, if that's a word lol.
At that time, it was one of the hardest days of my life. I wanted to quit, in fact 30-40 guys quit instantly. The whole time, I am telling myself to keep working, keep working, only the strong survived. That saying had true merit with me for the first time in my life.
First week no one knew who I was. At night you'd hear the guys packing their bags and driving home. Some nights I had tears in my eyes, I was ready to leave, but I couldn't go back home. I had a dream and goals to play next level college football. That was the hardest camp I had ever experienced in my entire career. Real 2 a Day workouts and practices in the Oklahoma August heat. But by the 2nd week, the coaches were noticing me and my work ethic. It was a work ethic I built while in High School, because to be honest, I stayed late at practices because I did not want to go home. I felt like I was the best receiver in the state of Oklahoma but no one took notice. Being a All State alternate put a bad taste in my mouth, and no one recruiting me made me work that much harder. Then add the fact that I was 2-points away from being on SMU’s campus, my drive at NEO became unstoppable. I became the teams starting kick returner my freshmen year and we won the conference championship.
Recruiting in Junior College finally started.
It was a great spring session, my work ethic with the obstacles the staff put on us, seemed like everything was starting to pay off. For the first time in my life, I was being noticed.
I would get letters from half the country that spring, North Carolina, South Carolina, Missouri, Tulsa, Middle Tennessee State, North Texas to name a few.
But then just as fast as the letters were coming they were stopping. I was a small guy, 5’7 160 pound straight line burner. I did not have that ideal 6’ to 6’3 frame like my teammates. They were all getting Division 1 looks our sophomore year and I was barely getting Division 1AA looks after a great spring, I even led our team in receiving yards our sophomore year.
One story fits in my mind that Ill probably never forget, and it is this story why I eventually found my way to Division 2 Pittsburg State University. Western Kentucky had came to NEO for me. The coach was watching my film and called me to the office. According to my position coach they loved me and he felt they were ready to set up a visit and offer. I was too excited thinking about life in Kentucky lol.
As soon as I got to the office, the coaches demeanor changed and thought I was smaller in person than the guy on the film. Long story short he said he would get back to me and I never heard from him again. That same weekend, I had a visit set up at Murray State University only for them to cancel it the day I was supposed to leave.
I was depressed because I started to feel like my two years at NEO were wasted.
Division 2 was not a option for me.
I had about 10 Division 2 schools leaving messages on my phone and I decided to ignore them until one day I picked the phone up and it was Coach Tim Beck from Pittsburg State. His team was currently 13 or 14-0 and they had a semi final game vs North Dakota. He told me to check their game out that weekend (which I didn't) and then proceeded to pitch to me why I should go to Pitt State. Everything is what everyone else said until he kept it real with me. He said why go to a mediocre 1AA school just to say you're D1 and not get the real experience I deserve, and then be done with everything in 2 years. Why not come to a Division 2 powerhouse where Ill have the opportunity to compete for championships, get a great education, and be apart of one of the best small school experiences in the country. The few 1AA’s recruiting me and the D2’s recruiting me didn't have the gameday atmosphere that Pitt State had nor the campus life.
I swallowed my pride and committed. It turned out to be one of the best decisions I made.
I honestly believe my college experience helped me throughout my pro career.
My pro journey was almost a spitting image of my college journey. I had to start all over, being a Division 2 All American meant nothing at the professional level. It just meant I had the opportunity to show what I could do in the moment. I had to once again fight to get noticed, And had to work to stay noticed. I was fortunate to sign a Canadian Football League Contract and work with both the Toronto Argonauts and Saskatchewan RoughRiders in 2007.
If I had to start all over again, Id travel the same road. Its who I am. The experiences from High School to Junior College to Division 2 Pittsburg State, have shaped my mindset and work ethic to the point that I will out work anyone to get to what I feel I deserve. Without those experiences maybe I would have settled like I almost did with Bacone College. Don't let anyone dictate your journey. If you have to do it the small college route take that opportunity because when you attack situations with a positive mindset, the rewards will be that much more sweet. My testament says, put your faith in your goals and work towards them with everything you got, because eventually someone will take notice and help open that door to get you through. Once you get through, the sky is the limit. No matter the level, see it as a opportunity to extend your journey.
Thank you for taking the time to read.
Retired | IFL All Time Leader in Receiving Yards, All Purpose Yards