(Photo courtesy of Fresno State Athletics)
When I was in playing at Dinuba High School, just 30 miles down the road from Fresno, I had interest from many schools up and down the West Coast, all except Fresno State. I was okay with that though, because being that young I wanted to get out and explore leaving my hometown area.
It's funny, though, just how much you can appreciate your home once you leave. When I decided to transfer I honestly thought some Division 2 schools would reach out to me, but I was surprised to hear from powerhouse programs too. But of all the places I could have gone, I decided to come back home.
I love Fresno. It's a big city, but it feels like a tight knit community. Everyone knows everyone, and you can't go somewhere without running into someone. I appreciate it a lot more now than I did four years ago, but what I didn't realize was just how much the people in Fresno would appreciate and support me as well.
I showed up at fall camp a week and a half before the season started, and scrambled to learn the playbook. I was still getting familiar with our plays when we had our season opener against Incarnate Word, but with our team up 36-0, our coach Jeff Tedford decided to put me in.
The reaction from the Fresno State fans blew me away.
They embraced me for coming home, and that roar of the crowd is something I'll never forget. It's not that different from our relationship with God – he's ready to welcome you with open arms at any point in your life. There is never a bad time for you to accept Christ in your heart.
It was exciting to be back in front of my hometown fans and the Valley. I only threw seven passes that game, but I completed six of them, two of which went for touchdowns.
I was still the backup when we played the next two games against powerhouse teams Alabama and Washington, but I started the next game as we beat Nevada 41-21. We then beat San Jose State, New Mexico, and San Diego State to extend our winning streak to four straight games. After losing our next game, we went on another four-game winning streak and ultimately finished the season 10-4.
One of the coolest things for me was that my football career was finally beginning to mimic my faith. Before each game starts, I do a lap around the football field. I do that to represent the story of the Walls of Jericho, when the Israelite army continued to walk around the city, covering every inch around the walls obeying God's command unsure of the outcome, until they suddenly came tumbling down.
And for me, it felt like every wall I had come upon in my career that felt like a barrier started to fall apart as well.
Even before I had turned the corner, I had accepted the fact that God already knew what was going to happen in my career and I had prayed for His will to be done. I am just blessed that His will included our team winning the West division of the Mountain West conference, winning all four of our rivalry trophies, winning 10 games, and winning the Hawaii Bowl. I went 9-2 as a starter and threw for 2,726 yards, but all the credit for that goes to God. It just shows how amazing His plan is.
(Photo courtesy of Fresno State Athletics)
I'm now getting ready for my last year of college football, and even though I hope the NFL awaits me down the road, I've found solace in the fact that my purpose in life goes beyond football. One of the athletes I look up to the most, Kobe Bryant, said if basketball is the biggest thing he's ever done than he's failed at life. I couldn't agree more.
Nobody is going to remember my stats after I'm done with football, but they'll remember how I treated people and made them feel. And the way I treat people should be a reflection of my love for God.
Someone asked me a few weeks ago what the Fresno State jersey means to me, and it means a lot. It's got my name on the back, so I'm representing my family, but it also says Fresno State on the front. I'm representing the college, the city, and the whole community. But even beyond that, we wear a V on our helmets to represent the entire San Joaquin Valley. More importantly, it symbolizes blessings that I have received and for that I am eternally humbled and thankful.
In closing, I have to say though, representing the valley sure feels funny to me. From this vantage point, after what I've been through, it sure feels like the mountain top.
God bless and Go Dogs!