I grew up in Toronto Canada and I was crazy about American style football. Even though I didn’t get to play football until my senior year of high school, my dream was to play in America at a major college and then get drafted into the National Football League. A buddy and I shared the same dream (or as our friends thought, the same insanity!), so we made our own recruitment videos and started sending them to colleges all over the U.S.
Coach Art Briles of Baylor was interested in me but he encouraged me to first prove myself at TJC and gave Coach Danny Palmer a call. I found out that TJC looks for good students and is willing to pass over even the best athletes if they have behavior, attitude, or classroom problems, so I was excited to become a TJC Apache.
Still, I found that dreaming is a lot easier than doing. Texas is lots hotter than Toronto and everything in Texas, including the other football players, seemed bigger. Still, I worked hard, listened to my coaches and did all I could to be the kind of student athlete TJC prides itself on having.
Coach Palmer had two rules that I’ve never forgotten — do what’s right and be on time. I studied hard to make a good GPA and graduated TJC in just three semesters, which meant I still had three years left of eligibility. I played left tackle (and almost everything else) for TJC and my favorite game was when we beat our arch rivals from Kilgore. I was really honored to be named second-team all-conference in 2008.
In 2009, I transferred to Baylor where I started as right tackle but was moved to center, which was great to me. I snapped the ball to quarterback Robert Griffin, III (“RGIII”) and we just seemed to click. After the 2010 season, I was named honorable-mention All Big 12 and in the 2011 season, our Baylor offense was ranked second nationally with 587 yards per game during the regular season. We set school records with 777 total yards and 482 rushing yards in the Alamo Bowl win. I was able to start all 25 games in my Baylor career, which was the longest streak on the team and the third highest total starts ever by a player.
It was my job to protect quarterback Robert Griffin III in his Heisman-winning season and we became as close as brothers. Reporters begged me to tell them something negative about RGIII but I couldn’t. There’s nothing bad to tell. He’s as good and decent as he appears. On the field, I could almost read his mind and when he’d do his staggered count, I’d move my head to draw opponents offside. It worked in key situations so many times that it played a critical role in many of our wins.
My father died when I was two and with my mom living in Toronto, it was hard for her to come to Waco to see my games, but I tried to conduct myself in way that would make her, my coaches and everyone else proud of me. Still, I’m not perfect. During the tryouts for the NFL, the scouts get very personal with their background questions. Just like at TJC, NFL teams will pass on great athletes that have problems. One of them asked me “What the worst thing you’ve ever done?” I’ve never been in trouble with the law or used drugs so the question discombobulated me a bit, and I said something about having a relationship before marriage. Apparently, no one had ever treated a football scout like a priest before and he had a good laugh at my expense. I’m a lot more comfortable playing football than talking about other things, and I’m excited about the chances of living my dream to play in the NFL.
- TJC Hero and Friend Philip Blake had a stellar career at Baylor where he was recognized by his coach and teammates for key leadership during Baylor’s record setting season. Nicknamed “The Big Canuck” by sports reporters, his performance during NFL tryouts was so impressive that the NFL Network’s lead analyst named Blake the “best value” prospect of the day. At 6-foot-3 and 311 pounds, Blake bench pressed 225 pounds for 22 straight reps, ran 40 yards in 5.25 seconds, did a vertical jump of 30 inches, and a broad jump of 8’ 9”. Coach Art Briles predicts Blake will make his mark in the NFL as an outstanding player. “He was a great player and a great leader for us, so he’ll certainly transfer all that to the next level”. Wherever Blake’s career takes him, he will be fondly remembered by his many friends at TJC.