When I decided to come to the University of Oklahoma, my primary goal was to earn a scholarship. For that to finally happen was a special moment and a big sigh of relief. OU is a great school and I was going to come here regardless, but to take that financial burden off my family was a huge deal.
The first thing I did was call my mom once I got to the team hotel. Calling my mom is something I'll always remember because this is really her scholarship more than mine. When I was deciding on where to attend college, I obviously could have gone other places where they would pay for my school, but my mom stepped up and said I could go to OU and not have to worry about the money situation. For my mom to put her hard work and money into my education and make it possible for me to play for the school I wanted to play for was the reason getting a scholarship was such a burden lifted off my shoulders. I felt that I owed her a scholarship. She deserved it just as much as I did.
Getting to play college ball here in Norman where I grew up and went to high school means a lot to me. Not a lot of people get the chance to even play on a stage as big as Oklahoma. For me to be able to do it on scholarship and in the city I grew up in is special. I love feeling connected with the Norman community. It means so much when all my friends and family can come to every game with the stadium being right up the road. I know how much support I have whenever I'm on the field and see so many of my friends and family in the stands watching me. Regardless of who's on my guest list, the community shows up to every game, home or away. Having that close contact and that sense of familiarity of being in the community is great.
I've wanted to come to the University of Oklahoma for a while. The ability to play football for the school is incredible but getting my degree from a prestigious university like OU is something I'll always cherish. I'm currently in graduate school here, so the thought of being able to receive two degrees from OU is very special to me. Whatever career I decide to pursue, having two degrees from Oklahoma is going to be a good stepping stone and will help me get to where I want to be in life after football.
This football season, I have a different role than I've had in my first few years. Since this is my sixth year here at OU, I've gotten to know how this program runs. I take pride in being a mentor to all the underclassmen on the team and leading by example. I've put it on myself to step up in that way. I've seen the highs and lows of being a student-athlete and what goes on every day. I make the conscious effort to help whoever I can.
I've battled through adversity throughout my whole career here as a football player. I've battled the physical aspect of football, earned my keep and received a scholarship. I've also battled through the mental side of the sport after tearing my Achilles tendon right before my first full scholarship season and then tearing my other Achilles six months later.
One of the biggest lessons I've learned here at OU is keeping my head above water and persevering through it all. Another big lesson I've learned is how important it is to have access to all the resources we have here as student-athletes. I was here during the stage where we were in trailers. Now, we have this brand-new facility with a new weight room, indoor turf, a hot and cold tub, tutoring, a fueling station, etc. These resources allow us to train more and do things at a higher level. It makes us better overall. The money given to the athletic department from donors cannot be understated. It helps us become better athletes and more importantly, better people.