What does being a Campbell Trophy® winner mean to you?
School was the No. 1 priority in our house growing up. Most adults in our family were educators, teachers or principals, so it’s no surprise. But, the reasoning was that, if you can have success academically then you can have access to the broadest menu of options; and, if you can achieve at a high level then you should achieve at a high level. To have that recognized in conjunction with athletics is special for me.
You are one of only three former Campbell Trophy® recipients to have also been inducted to the College Football Hall of Fame. As someone who has achieved at the highest level in academics and athletics, what advice would you give to the next generation who would like to follow in your footsteps?
Time is your most valuable resource and hard work is undefeated. If it requires your time, then it’s worth your best effort. If you’ve given that, then you always win.
Your younger brother Jon was also named an NFF National Scholar-Athlete. Were you two competitive growing up? If so, how do you think that helped you both become so successful on and off the field?
Yes, but not in football or the classroom really. It was more in the driveway playing basketball or ping pong or Nintendo. Once he got bigger, I realized I really should’ve developed a jump shot.
What was the best part about playing in the SEC? Was there a particular team and/or player that you really looked forward to lining up against?
The enthusiasm for the sport at the collegiate level and around the games themselves. Football is the most popular sport in the country, but, in the SEC footprint, college football is king. Game days are amazing with the tailgating and huge hostile sold-out stadiums. And, that’s virtually every week. People ask who our biggest rival was and I could pick four- or five-different teams. But, because a lot of my high school friends and my wife went to Auburn, that game held special importance to me.
Did you have any pregame rituals (same food, music, etc.) or bizarre superstitions during your playing days?
I had two in college. In the locker room pregame, I always put on my Mountain Park Athletic Association hat. It’s where I first started playing football, loved those coaches and teammates. The other was I always wore a black wristband on my left arm. Chuck Mize was my head coach at Parkview High School, and he died spring of my sophomore year at Parkview. He always believed in me — long before I believed in myself. I started wearing the wristband the next season in memory of him.
You currently work for the SEC Network/ESPN. What drew you to the broadcasting industry? As a former player, what’s the hardest part about watching and analyzing the games now?
Well, it’s ironic because I did not enjoy interacting with the media as a player. But, while we were still in the NFL, Jon and I had created a charitable foundation and became more involved in children’s charities. We started some events to raise funding and awareness, and to promote the events. I would do sports radio or local sports segments and was told I was pretty good at it. At first, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed doing it, but it makes sense. Broadcasting is very much a team effort, and I have great teammates. So, it’s fantastic to still get to be in that environment around the game.
Childhood sports hero?
Larry Bird, Dale Murphy, Bo Jackson.
Favorite way to relax?
Hobbies that may surprise people?
Are you a call or a text kinda guy?
Campbell Trophy® Q&A Background:
Campbell Q&A Series:
Today’s Q&A represents the 16th in a series of Q&A sessions with former winners of the Campbell Trophy®: