I have not always done things the right way and was once a top recruit coming out of the state of NJ. I had many attributes big time schools desired and many they did not. If I could have eliminated some life altering events by listening to a mentor, I would go back and do so. If I could also change the people and circumstances that surrounded me I would. A serious of events in High School led to me being ineligible in the NCAA, which is how I ended up at Graceland University in the NAIA (Great Place). The fact of the matter is with the mind set I had established at a young age, from being choked out by my 8th grade coach, who was 300 plus pounds and on the police force. To getting promoted to Varsity as a Freshmen, at one of the largest school's in New Jersey. To getting named the New Jersey Freshmen of the Year and then getting wrapped around a pole at 85 MPH and having my brain spilled all over a hospital bed. To having my academics picked apart and destroyed by Winslow TWP High School, because of sheer RACISM towards a native american. My Junior and Senior season's were spent at Gloucester Catholic where I worked non-Chantilly to salvage a terrible GPA. I got letters from every single school in the United States and failed to get my test score high enough.
I had to enroll at Hargrave Military academy and still was recruited heavily (Just not by D1). Once I had made the switch to actually hitting people and playing football, the D1 kicker had somehow vanished. I now looked at myself as a hard hitting Free/Strong Safety, who was after nothing but scalps. So thus, I choose the Catawba Indians. So I went into Hargrave one of the nations highest rated kickers and I came out a very good linebacker/safety. I actually just spoke with Coach Prunty yesterday, He was the man mostly responsible for this transition. I cannot deny that I thoroughly enjoyed every single moment, but was this God's plan for my life? This led me down a path of acting the part of a spoiled OVER RATED Athlete. This is when in my mind I went from a ELITE recruit, to a so-so/average recruit. My mind set had become that of a God, I felt like nothing could stop me or be taken away from me and no man could stop me. Well I let alcohol and a poor attitude run me right into a MCL tear. I than hit a real brick wall.
I ended up transferring to Central Connecticut State where I was planning on playing QB and Kicking. That was also a dream of mine that was crushed by events that I could have controlled if I were living the right way. I had a big problem saying the word NO! We will just leave it at that. So I complete a awesome semester and had already began taking summer classes at CCSU. I achieved the amount of credits I had needed to be eligible and scheduled my team physical. I went in and simply told the truth about the one concussion from my sophomore year of High School and was then not cleared to play FOOTBALL! My scholarship was revoked and this was all from a lawsuit which was not even filed by me, from my Sophomore year of high school. So now this is my 3rd institution and 2nd NCAA accredited institution and if I got picked up again, I would have to sit out 2 seasons, before being eligible. We are not going to get into how I handled this, as it is a entire novel in its own on what not to do. But luckily I had two amazing coaches who looked after me in Charlie Eger and Rob Likens. I owe you guys a lot for saving my dag gum life that day. See I know what it's like to be connected in every way imaginable and to not gain a dag gum thing from it! I have never looked to capitalize off of anyone else's success. But as soon as mine diminished, so did all my friends and family. This is a characteristic you will not find here at Scout Trout, one thing I have learned over my now 20 plus years of playing sports is that quitting is what they want us to do. It satisfies others so greatly for one like myself not to succeed, because of the lack of understanding of who I truly am. I truly believe Satan hates people who are even somewhat touched by God's grace and mercy. I believe he will continue to place barriers and obstacles in our way to break down, by using the power of the word of Jesus Christ.
Well now one morning the New Jersey "Schoolboy Legend", had felt like he had dug himself a hole that there was no escaping from it, when he woke up in a corn field in Iowa. I was recruited hard by most of the NAIA school's I had contacted and literally was told by my parents that there was no way they were paying for school. So I literally was just searching for the most money I could get from whoever. I really liked the pitch the former Coach from GU gave me and I got a full ride, plus excess checks. Once again thou after not adjusting well at all to the small town life style, I found myself with a bottle in my hand. I didn't even think to myself how it was effecting me physically and emotionally. I ended up playing my favorite position and did a very good job impersonating Mike Alstott and got into some wicked shape by seasons end. Going over 100 yards in a College game on the ground had really brought my swagger back and I put the cart in front of the horse (kind of) and started contacting agents. I still had one more year thou before I was eligible for the NFL Draft, where I felt I belonged.
So before going into what happened next, lets touch on what could have changed the outcome of the nasty things that happened to me. I should have never scored 53 points in a BBALL game? That was a joke, but that probably did not help my ego. What about the 4 home runs hit in one Baseball game? I probably should have played baseball? If I could have gotten over how GREAT I was and focused on getting better everyday, instead of the next social event I was going to attend. Things would have been much different. But like I said, I could not find it in me to turn things down and wanted to do everything everybody else was doing. That was my favorite line, but when it comes down to it, if you wanna be a TOP recruit, you must listen to those who have been there. You are different, you were born to do different things and travel a much different path than the rest of society.
In Conclusion, I am 30 years old and still playing Pro Arena Football and chasing a NFL kicking job. You can't let THEM determine your outcome and dictate your future. They want us to have a mind-set that we are invincible and they also want to see you fail. It will be the talk of the town when you do, not all of your accomplishments, as they will find a way to diminish those. So my advice to you is to rise above it and be true to who you are! Study hard in the classroom and make your way on the field, because learning as much as you can in every area of life, will be beneficial in the long run. You must make your own choices, but we must remember what it takes to get to your end goal. Persistence, Resiliency , Humbleness, Faith, Integrity, Common Sense and a relentless pursuit of knowledge through Christ really helped me out. Once I realized my path of destruction I had to "Flip my Focus", in order to establish new constructive goals that will benefit our society as a whole. There is nothing wrong with chasing that dream and that ball, but as Football is ever changing, so is our world. We must create change individually and prepare for whats next. Our problem as a whole in my eyes, is it has become all about ME! When I learned the game of Football and about Jesus Christ, I found out nothing is about me. Football is a team sport and you need all wheels functioning at a high level to achieve optimal success. So how for one minute is anything about you?
I wrote a verse on my shoe last season and knocked a lot of what I wanted to do on the field off my list. I truly believe that I can do all things, through Christ who gives me strength and will always give him the glory for my abilities, on and off the field. I stole two hashtags throughout my career, one being from the Kansas State great Keithen Valentine and it was #ShoutOut2Heaven. The other was from the Great Kentucky U QB Shane "Bambino" Boyd and that was #GodStrong. I want to thank you two for creating those and I want to thank you for being such courageous leaders in our game. I think that wraps up part one today! Enjoy the NFL playoffs!
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Pre-NFL DRAFT 2009! EYE OF THE TIGER!