Growing up with a father with the knowledge and understanding of what it takes to get to the next level both physically and mentally was something I have been blessed with and am truly thankful for. At an early age, I could understand the importance of hard work, pursuing my goals and eventually reaching my dreams.
As a kid, I always dreamt of and envisioned myself playing football at the University of Texas A&M. This was by far my ultimate dream. My dad played there as well as my uncle, and my mother was a College Station native. It was the school for me.
I will never forget my first football camp at A&M. I was completely unprepared. I forgot my cleats and had no clue we would have to do so many different tests, from the 40-yard dash, to bench press, vertical jump and agility circuits. I had finally made it to the camp of my dream school and they put me on the B field.
This was the side of the players that were just there to participate and enjoy the atmosphere, not where I wanted to be. I’ll never forget that day. I slipped out of my start position running my 40-yard dash and had the time of a mediocre defensive end. The rest of the day did not get any better. During team activity drills of the camp, I was constantly overlooked by the coaches of my dream school and out skilled by my peers.
As we were leaving the campus I remember telling my dad, “I was terrible today, they don’t want me, I’m just too slow.” My father replied to me with the best answer a down kid could hear:
“Melvin, I’m proud of you, remember it’s not how you start it’s how you finish. Next summer you will be ready and you will make them want you!”
From that point on I made it a mission to prepare myself in every way possible. I was going to be the be the fastest, strongest, most athletic athlete I could.
Fast forward one year and I was back in College Station. This time was going to be different. I was completely prepared. I made sure my calendar was marked for The Big Day: the Texas A&M one day camp.
From the very beginning of the camp, I made it known that I was the one to watch. The first test we had set the tone for the day, the 40-yard dash. This year I was ready. I knew that if I could dominate the 40, the day would be mine. I trained all year, pulling sleds, running hills and countless lunges, I had my mind set that I would not be denied my dreams!
All year I searched hard for the lightest cleats I could find. While everyone else was wearing NIKE or some other top brand shoe, I had all black, no logo Spalding cleats. I heard a couple of laughs from some of the other recruits before my run but it didn’t matter to me. I was focused, truly locked in on my goal and my dream to play football at this school and the 40 was my first step to getting there.
My first run would be the fastest I’ve clocked to date, a 4.43. My second wasn’t far behind with a 4.45. Not only did this get me on the “A” field but also gained the attention of the head coach, and Texas A&M legend, R.C. Slocum.
While doing 1 on 1 drills on the A field I was the only athlete to participate on both sides of the ball. Defensively I had it in my mind that whoever I was covering would not touch the football. I am going to play so fast and aggressive that only the coaches would be able to tell me to slow down. Offensively I wanted to prove that whoever comes out to cover me had no chance.
On that day, all my preparation paid off. I caught every pass and had no pass completions on me defensively. But the day wasn’t done. The top ten 40-yard dash times of the day were to compete in one final race to determine the fastest man in the camp. I won, and I won convincingly!
After the camp, The Head Coach, Offensive Coordinator, and Defensive Coordinator offered me a full football scholarship right on the field. To say that I was excited would be an understatement.
My mom was crying and my dad had a small grin on his face. As we were getting ready to leave, my dad asked me one thing. “Melvin, do you remember what I told you last summer? It’s not how you start but it’s how you finish! Today you showed them all the hard work you have put in this past year, I’m proud of you son!”
So many times, when people ask me what the vision is of the Jerry Bullitt Training Center, I think back to the times when I may not have started out the best but I finished strong. Our true vision is to help each person get better each day. If we can help you to be a better athlete and person each day our vision is becoming a reality.