DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — Drop by North Carolina Central football practice and you’re guaranteed to find physical play, lots of hard work, and on this day, NFL first-round draft pick Todd Gurley.
“It ain’t no big deal at all man this is what I’m supposed to do,” said Gurley. “This is what God put me on this earth to do.”
Gurley considers himself an honorary Eagle through family ties. His sister and brother both hold degrees from N.C. Central. His brother is currently employed there and with his mere presence, the Tarboro native managed to raise the enthusiasm level at practice.
“Juice is always good at practice,” said N.C. Central head football coach Trei Oliver. “For a local guy to come back, they see somebody from our area that can make it, obviously from a rural town [like] Tarboro. I think it’s really good for him to come talk to the guys.”
Todd’s rise to fame is well known to North Carolina sports fans. He first turned heads as a running back for Tarboro High where he was named the North Carolina Player of the Year.
His exploits there paved the way for him to attend the University of Georgia.
Once in Athens, he continued to improve – forgoing his senior year to turn pro. In the NFL he was the Offensive Rookie of the Year, Offensive Player of the year, a three-time Pro Bowler and an inspiration to those looking to follow in his footsteps. Before departing practice he left the players with some words to live by.
“Just to have fun, to enjoy it, definitely appreciate and be grateful for the opportunity and not only that, don’t ever really take it for granted,” said Gurley. “Don’t try to compare your success to no one else’s, work hard and just make the best and the most out of it.”
Only time will tell if there was another NFL Pro Bowler practicing his craft on the turf at O’Kelly-Riddick Stadium that day. At the very least they shared the field with a first-round NFL pick who gave them a peek at his blueprint for success.
“A lot of those guys have aspirations to play on that level,” said Oliver. “For him to be able to come and talk a little bit about his experience and what it took for him to get to where he was is outstanding for our guys to be able to hear that.”