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Old 07-06-2009, 08:16 PM   #1
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Default NFL star tells youth to hit the books first

NFL star tells youth to hit the books first

Armed with his Super Bowl ring and mini Lombardi Trophy, Nick Eason delivered a simple and direct message to Guyton-area youth Thursday night.

“Get your education,” said the 6-foot-3, 305-pound veteran defensive end from the Pittsburgh Steelers. “Sports is all good and fine, but you need a backup plan. The world is changing dramatically year to year.”

Eason, a native of Lyons and graduate of Toombs County High School, played at Clemson University collegiately. He was the first athlete to graduate from Clemson in three years and have two years of eligibility remaining after receiving his degree in sociology. He is currently working on a master’s degree in human resources development and he added his mother — who gave birth to him not long after she finished high school — is working on her master’s degree.

Growing up in Lyons — like Guyton, a small town, Eason noted — there wasn’t a lot to do there, Eason noted.

“I stayed in Clemson every summer,” he said. “I thought Lyons was a place to retire and die.

“There was nothing to do,” he said. “We had a Dairy Queen, a Huddle House, a couple of family-owned restaurants, and that was about it. So I can relate to a lot of the young people here.”

But he advised the kids in attendance — his visit was arranged by the Reclaiming Our Children organization — to dream big and achieve big, even if they grow up in a town of 4,480 such as Lyons.

“Don’t let being in a small town discourage you,” he said, “because it can be done.”

Yet Eason didn’t always have his sights set on a pro football career. He wanted to be a basketball player first before his high school football coach, Mark Stroud, advised him he had a future in football.

At Toombs County, Eason’s teams were perennial playoff contenders. His teammates included his cousin, Vince Faison, who was eventually drafted by the San Diego Padres before attending the University of Tennessee. Faison had signed a letter of intent with the University of Georgia prior to opting to play professional baseball.

Yet some of his teammates didn’t do much with their lives afterwards, Eason said.

“I had the opportunity to play with a lot of guys who were great athletes on the field and dummies off the field,” he said.

Eason also warned kids to make good choices in who they have as friends.
He said they may run into friends who are “crabs in a bucket,” meaning they just want to bring you down and will climb over you to get to the top, he explained.

“Some of those friends mean you no good,” he said. “If you’ve got a friend trying to get you into trouble, that’s not really a friend. I’ve had to cut loose a lot of guys and girls I knew.

“Don’t waste your life away. Don’t let your friends ruin your life.”

Raised mainly by his grandparents, Eason advised the kids to honor those who were taking care of them. He said anytime a child’s parents or guardians tell them not to do something, there’s a good reason behind it.

“Nine times out of 10, they see themselves in you and they don’t want you to go down the same way they’ve already been down,” he said. “If you’re living with your auntie or your grandparents, appreciate the job they are doing.”

He also said that kids need to keep in mind the little things, such as making sure they say “yes, ma’am” and “no, ma’am.”

“There is a time to play and a time to be serious,” Eason said.

Eason also admitted he was a little bit of a class clown, but he also encouraged kids to take the SAT and ACT as many times as possible and seek any mentoring or tutoring programs that may be available.

“Even after I qualified, I wanted to take it to get as high as the nonathletes at Clemson,” he said.

During the recruiting process, Eason discovered that college coaches will talk to anyone and everyone who’s been involved with a prospect’s life.
“College coaches look at someone who is coachable,” he said. “They’ll go talk to your high school teachers. It’s called character, about how you carry yourself. And it goes a long way.”

The former Clemson defensive MVP — he still holds several weight lifting records at the school — added he doesn’t consider himself superior to anyone, even after all his success. He said he enjoys being different and urged kids to seek their own path.

“Respect yourself and love yourself,” he said. “You’ve got to do that before you do anything else.”

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Old 07-07-2009, 04:39 AM   #2
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Default Re: NFL star tells youth to hit the books first

Just another class act from another Pittsburgh Steeler.
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