Entry #4: Senior Season
It ended too early. It ended way too early. It started with winning our first game at Andrews and then our next game against North Cross and it just continued. We were just beating teams by double-digits – we were just blowing teams out.
I guess what happened was our team caught the "big head." It became all fun and games during practices and it caught up with us. At the end of the regular season, we were saying, "we are this," "we are that," and "we can't be beat." And then we got beat by the worst team in the conference, which was Southern Alamance. When they beat us that was just a smack in the face. I cried, because I didn't expect to lose to them. I wanted to swipe all of Guilford and Alamance County out of the way.
We went into our first playoff game and it ended up being a big upset loss. I can't necessarily blame it on anyone, because I don't believe it was anyone's fault, but we as a team should have done better.
Individually for me, the season was different from my junior season. Everybody knew who I was because I had committed to UNC. So there was a lot of trash talking directed specifically towards me. I took it in fun. I didn't let it get to me. I was just like "Okay, you want to make fun of me, now I'm going to embarrass you." And that's what I did. I just took all the trash talking, laughed at it, and did what I had to do. I never took it personally.
Mentally, I took a more mature approach to the season. From the prior January when I started until it ended, I didn't play any games. I might laugh a little bit, but I went into it like I was going to be the opponents' biggest threat. When they watched film, I wanted opponents to think, "We must stop him, and if we don't we lose." I tried to be more encouraging of my teammates and raise our level of play.
I wasn't much of a blocking tight end before my senior season, because I never really played tight end, I always played receiver. So I had to improve my blocking, which I did tremendously in one year. I knew how to do it, but I just didn't do it during my junior year. I had the thought in my mind that "I must do it now in order to help out my teammates."
After the season, I played in the Shrine Bowl. To me, it was no different, because – no disrespect to the South – but I still consider North football more intense. Maybe because I'm sticking up for the North and I don't want to give the South their claim. I always new I had the talent to compete against anybody.
The game was disappointing, though. If we could have held Jadeveon Clowney for maybe one more second, I believe we could have beat them. But he was just a beast. He lived up to what everybody said he was.
We had a lot of my Tar Heel boys on the North Carolina team. We know what we had, but we just weren't able to utilize it as much. So when our Tar Heels play South Carolina in 2013, we'll be ready. I can't wait until our rematch.
The biggest thing I took away from the Shrine Bowl experience was spending time with my Tar Heel boys. North Carolina has to make sure we're in bed by a certain time, because we were up all night talking about the dumbest things. Right after we'd get back from practice and eating, we'd meet up in Travis Riley's room. Up in Travis' room was the funniest thing ever. It was a lot of fun.