Sunday’s game against the Browns in Cleveland isn’t just another game for me. It’s one I’ve been looking forward to since I was drafted. When I saw this game on our schedule for this year, it was circled in red.
I’m coming home.
I grew up about 20 miles outside of Cleveland - played my high school ball for Willoughby South High School—Go Rebels! I came back last year during our bye week for a game and talked to the team. But this is the first time I’ll get to play in front of many of my friends, family members, and coaches.
I can’t wait to play in a stadium I probably drove past 4-5 times a week when I was growing up. When I knew I was going to play in Cleveland, I wanted to do something special for my high school coach and the guys, so I got them all tickets to the game (thanks for dropping them off for me, Ma). Willoughby South is where it all started for me. They gave me that opportunity to be successful. I just want to give back to them and let them know that I haven’t forgotten. I also want to give the kids a chance to see that the coaches aren’t just talking when they say hard work can pay off and if you want it bad enough, you can achieve your dreams.
I’m hoping I’ll get a chance to catch up with one of the coaches, Matt Luck, while the team is in town. He’s just a great guy. He was on me to join the track team since I was a freshman. He’d say, ‘I saw you get run down from behind. Come out for track, and I’ll make sure it doesn’t happen again.’ He helped me with my running form and definitely helped me get faster and overall better before training camp last year. He’s been a huge help, and I really appreciate everything he's done for me.
End of the day, we didn’t have a very big school, but our coaches always told us to keep fighting, and you will achieve your dreams. I had a dream of making it to the NFL. People told me that it was going to be hard because I was at a small high school, but I made it – I knew I would. I believed them, bought in, put in the work, and now I’m living my dream.