Archive for the ‘College Football’ Category

(Photo Credit: PennLive.com)

(Photo Credit: PennLive.com)

This past week, SEC Media Day took place in Hoover, Alabama. As we get closer and closer to the start of the college football season, the talk of the town has centered around Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel. The redshirt freshman won the Heisman Trophy and led an upset of two-time national champion Alabama in Tuscaloosa last season.

This year, the talk about Manziel has been what he has done off the field. The 20-year-old has hung out with LeBron, played golf at Pebble Beach, and had courtside seats to the NBA Finals. Now, Manziel is in the news for oversleeping at the Manning passing academy and for his tweets last month about how he couldn’t wait to leave Texas A&M.

The one tweet I want to focus on is the one where Manziel said back on June 16th:

Don’t ever forget that I love A&M with all of my heart, but please please walk a day in my shoes.”

Now, I am 20 years old just like Manziel. He’s right that he’s not your normal 20 year old. I wouldn’t know how he lives in a world where everybody knows who he is. As I was thinking about it, I thought about how at times we wonder if we can find anyone who can truly say, “I understand what you are going through.”

The only One who knows our problems is Jesus. When Jesus was on this Earth, he became fully human. He was tempted by Satan in the wilderness, He was thirsty, He wept, and He was tired. In order to become the propitiation for our sins, He had to make himself low, to the point of dieing on a cross, so that we can have Salvation.

When we go to the Lord with our problems, He is always there to listen and He knows what we are going through.

The author of Hebrews talks about how Jesus is our High Priest. In the Old Testament, the high priest would go into the Holy of Holies and offer up one giant sacrifice for the sins of Israel. Now that Christ redeemed us from our sins by being the ultimate sacrifice, we have a High Priest that does not look down on us in a lowly manner.

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.  Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:14-16)

Today, I exhort you to think about this next time you pray. Remember that Jesus cares about you and always listens to your problems, no matter how big or small they are. Once Jesus died on the cross, the curtain in the temple was torn in two. That meant there was no longer separation between God and man. Jesus took a walk in our shoes on this Earth. However, we must remember that we could never have walk in His shoes and pay the price for our sins like Jesus did for us on that cross. Now, we can go to God in any situation to receive mercy for our sins and confidence in our daily walk with Him.

Photo Credit: John McDonnell/Washington Post)

For the next part of our Jesus N Sports Interview series, I called up a great college football player as well as a great brother in Christ. He is going to be a redshirt junior at Virginia Tech this fall. He is also expected to be one of the top Heisman candidates this season as well a projected top five-top ten pick in the 2013 NFL Draft.

His name is Logan Thomas. Logan started his career in Blacksburg as a backup to Tyrod Taylor. 2011 was Logan’s breakout year. He completed about sixty percent of his passes, threw for over 3,000 yards and nineteen touchdowns. But, what makes Thomas special at his position is that he is a dual-threat quarterback. He also ran for 469 yards and eleven touchdowns. He can make plays with both his arms and legs. This is why he is a Heisman Finalist and is working on leading the Hokies to great things in 2012.

When conducting this interview, I felt truly blessed to have ten-fifteen minutes of Logan’s fellowship. As you read the Q+A that we had, I hope you are all as encouraged as I was reading this interview. I know I say that a lot, but talking with all these athletes has given me great encouragement to keep striving for the Gospel and running the race! I hope and pray this leads you along that path as well:

1. First off, how did you come to know the Lord?

L: When I was young, it was in my family. I was raised by my grandparents and I went to church every day. They have been together for 47 years now. I was saved when I was five years old thanks to my grandparents.

2. Who have been your role models along your walk with Christ both on and off the field?

L: My main role model has been my grandmother. She calls me twice a week and reminds me to pray every day. On the field, never really had a role model till Kevin Durant who is not afraid to show his faith.

    3. What is your favorite Bible Verse or the Bible Verse that best exemplifies your walk with Christ?

L: Psalm 23 – Every day is a struggle, every day is a fight. With God’s help, the day will go by easier and He will always have your back.

4. Logan, do you think religion and sports can co-exist in today’s locker rooms? Talk about some of the fellowship you have had with teammates at Virginia Tech.

L: Religion and sports can co-exist. Guys in our locker room are not afraid to stand up for what they believe in. We do share time every Friday where a group of guys who are saved have a chapel. We have speakers come in and tell stories. Last year, before the Marshall game, we had a guest speaker tell the story and a lot of his brothers got saved. It was one of the most joyous Friday nights of my life.

5. If a teammate came up to you and asked about your faith, what would you say?

L: First, How well do you know Christ? God has always been there for me and you even if you don’t know Him. You never know what kind of struggle you are going through. Many people blame God for struggles, but they do not know God can pull out of them. They will see how God is working in my life. You tell them about the Bible and to read the books and you tell them how to be saved. We have a team chaplain, so I would take a brother on my team under my wing and be there for him. Our team chaplain has been a blessing for all of us. His name is Johnny Shelton and he has helped me in my walk drastically.

6. You guys just finished up spring practices. How is the team looking so far?

L: We are looking pretty good. Our offense and defense will be stronger than we are last year. Guys are clicking on all cylinders. We have more seniors that know what they are doing and are ready to step up. Questions about our tailback, but the tandem/trio can make up for the loss of David Wilson. Our goal is a division championship, then an ACC Championship, and hopefully a National Championship.

7. My last question is what is it like to play for Coach Beamer?

L: It’s an honor to play for Coach. He is a great guy, he is not afraid to let you come in his office and that is how the whole coaching staff is.

We at Jesus N Sports wish Logan and the Virginia Tech Hokies the best of luck in 2012!

Making A Decision

Posted: November 3, 2011 by Ricky Keeler in College Football

(Photo Credit: Yale University via Bloomberg)

In every Christian’s life, they had to make the biggest decision of their life. It was not what college they want to go to, what their career is, or who they are going to marry. The decision was whether or not they were going to accept the Lord Jesus Christ as their God and Savior and give their life to Him. When writing about this piece, I thought about a piece I saw on SportsCenter involving a college football quarterback.

Yale quarterback Patrick Witt transferred from Nebraska two years ago not because of football, but because he wanted to pursue academics and get his degree in history. After winning a football game against Columbia on Saturday, Witt found out that he was a finalist for the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship, which means he gets funding to study 2-3 years at Oxford University in London.

However, the interview for the scholarship is on November 19th. Why is that a problem? That is “The Game” where Yale plays Harvard for, potentially, the Ivy League Championship. The interview is in Atlanta at 8 AM that day, but the game is in New Haven, Connecticut at noon.

“If the Rhodes Committee is willing to work with me, in a perfect world, I can interview first thing in the morning and get on a flight to be back in time for the game on Saturday. But I don’t know if that will be possible”, Witt told the Yale Daily News

As Christians, when we do make a decision, we have to look to the Lord first and foremost! We have to see what His will is for us. In the book of James, James tells us what we should do when faced with a difficult decision: If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him” (James 1:5).

Sometimes, the decision might not be the answer we want, but we have to trust that God’s way is the best way! “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him,and he will make straight your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Both of these verses make an impact in my life because with having to juggle school and now a part-time job, it has been tough for me to do pieces on here. You have to make a decision sometimes on what is the most important thing in your life. From talking with friends and family, service to God has to be a priority to stay focused on and this blog helps me to do that.

Today, I exhort you to when you have a tough decision in your life, take it to the Lord. He will take the burden away from you and bring you. As a Christian, we have to let the Lord control our lives and allow Him to put us in the best position to spread His glory. It may not be always what you want either, but we have to come to terms with that. Solomon also says this in Proverbs 16: The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the LORD” (Proverbs 16:1).

Without God, We Are Dead After One Sin

Posted: August 29, 2011 by Ricky Keeler in College Football

On Thursday night, the college football season will finally get underway. We can stop talking about schools on probation, scandals, eligibility, bar fights, and just get right to the action on the field. The number one team is the Oklahoma Sooners led on offense by Heisman candidate Landry Jones at quarterback. The defending champion Auburn Tigers have to find a way to replace Cam Newton as the SEC tries to win his 6th straight national championship as a conference!

The action begins Thursday on ESPN when UNLV takes on Wisconsin. This marks the debut of QB Russell Wilson as a Badger. Wilson transferred from NC State and he could the missing piece that leads this physical Big Ten team to at least a trip to the Rose Bowl in January.

The one thing for me that makes College Football compelling is the BCS system. Yes, the BCS is flawed and there should be a playoff in my opinion. However, it makes every single game matter and just one loss has the potential to absolutely ruin your chances of winning the title.

Before Jesus came into the world, one sin without Him would lead us to eternal judgment and wrath from our Father. We can’t just say that we had a good season, because one sin ruins all the righteous things we have done for God. Jesus tells that to His disciples in the Gospel: “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin” (John 8:34).

It just makes us want to say Thank You Jesus for calling me to be one of your children. With a new season leads into new expectations as well. However, when we become children of God, we become a new creation with our old life no longer in the picture. Paul told that to the people in Corinth who had to put their sinful party lifestyle behind them. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Today, I exhort you to think about that when we feel like we have lost, Jesus picks us back up and that we are all winners once we are born again like Nicodemus was (John 3). The Lord saves us from all our iniquities and we need to realize that if we go to him and confess our sins, He is faithful and will forgive us of all our transgressions.

Bad Company Corrupts Good Character

Posted: August 26, 2011 by Ricky Keeler in College Football

(Photo Credit: Michael DeMocker/The Times-Picayune)

The college football offseason has continued to be a mess and the mess has spread down to Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The number four LSU Tigers were preparing for their primetime next Saturday against the number three Oregon Ducks. Now, they will probably have to play the game without senior quarterback Jordan Jefferson.

Today, Jefferson and his teammate, LB Joshua Johns, turned themselves into Baton Rouge Police. This morning, the police issued a warrant for their arrests on a second-degree felony battery charge. This stems from a bar incident last week where it is alleged that several LSU players beat four victims who are now hospitalized and that it was Jefferson who is alleged to have kicked a man in the face. Head Coach Les Miles has suspended the players indefinitely, so QB Jarrett Lee will get the start in Cowboys’ Stadium next week.

This incident helps us teach about what happens to our character when we are around bad people. Our parents and friends have probably warned us about being “guilty by association.” This incident could apply here in the case of these four players, being out late at night at a bar and not realizing what can become of their actions. Paul met a people in Corinth that were not concerned about their actions at the time. Our friends might not accept our following of Christ because it makes us different people from what we once were.

There were even people in Corinth who believed that the resurrection did NOT exist! We know that is false, but the people wanted to be happy just by partying. The apostle Paul tells them “Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character” (1 Corinthians 15:33).

Today, I exhort you to keep your faith in God even though sometimes your friends might question your judgment. They may tell you that it is just not the same anymore. Jesus knows what you are going through. In the Gospel of John, Jesus tells His disciples “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first” (John 15:18). When we are saved, we are changed in ways we can never imagine, and if our friends cannot accept that, we can always talk to our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.

“BELIEVE”

Posted: August 25, 2011 by John D. Hayden in College Football

A.J. Steward (Photo: The Shriver)

“BELIEVE”

Believe is the theme and motto of the Kansas University Football team this year. Believe is a powerful tool that will motivate a team to win, that last year had a 3-9 record and this year has a real tough schedule. I believe they will win plenty of games this year and maybe even the Big 12. To believe means to believe in the team and to hold yourself accountable as a team and as an individual and to be a better player so that the team will be successful.

One of the players has really lived this word out in his personal life and on the field. I had the opportunity to visit with A.J. Steward, Senior Tight End from St Louis, MO on Tuesday night. We spent about 45 minutes visiting not just about the upcoming season but more importantly his spiritual journey and spiritual walk. I really enjoyed our visit Tuesday night and just got a glimpse of the young man. I want to share his story with all who read this and both A.J. and I hope this will encourage you in your spiritual walk with Christ. First of all, A.J. is a young man who I want my son to grow to be like and would love for A.J to mentor him. After getting off the phone with him, I watched the Kansas Training camp part 2 video on KUsports.com and I saw A.J. in action, not just as a football player but as a leader, as a friend, as a funny guy and as someone who is very passionate about Christ.

A.J. grew up in St Louis,MO and while growing up he had to choose to cheer for the Missouri Tigers of the Fighting Illinois, and he chose Missouri until like A.J. said, he came to his senses. This is A.J.’s last year at Kansas as he is a Physical Education Major and will be student teaching next semester. A.J. told me that he doesn’t really have a favorite class; they are all just the same since this is his last semester taking classes. He told me he has always wanted the opportunity to make it to the NFL but will be fine if he never makes it. He has other aspirations in life that are more important to him than being the next NFL star. He works hard every practice but more importantly works hard being a disciple of Jesus. He would like to teach and coach football or basketball at the High School Level. I was very impressed when he said one of his aspirations in life was to mentor younger guys in urban communities to show them there are opportunities out there and the sky is the limit.

A.J. also said after coaching and teaching he would like to be like Shaq and do different things like getting into sports broadcasting or becoming a sports chaplain. His main aspiration is to be the best disciple he can be for Christ. Before every game he spends time in prayer alone asking God to look over him during the game. A.J. after every practice leads the team in prayer to thank God for the practice and for what they accomplished that day. Around 95% of the team prays before every game. That is very impressive to me that this football team knows how to start their game out right. Former players did this in the past and they passed the baton over to A.J. to assume this role on the team. He inspires the team by being voted the funniest player on the team. He wants to make everyone laugh and hates seeing people down. So he spends time making the team laugh, cracking up jokes, running into camera guys, and just being himself. One of the big reasons he wants to put a smile on his team’s face is to get the guys to be loose and not so tight.

Our spiritual journey in life is a great story to tell others about. A.J.’s story is so inspiring about being a disciple of Jesus.  He grew up in a single parent home where his mother worked hard to take care of her family and came home tired from working. Because of her being tired and work schedule they didn’t have much time to go to church. He considered himself a Christian and was raised as one. They prayed together and had the motto of believe in their heart but never had any consistency. They study the bible together as a family and tried to live daily by the word. The spiritual influences in his life growing up were his grandparents who installed him his faith along side with his mother. His grandparents attended church and his grandpa was a deacon and his grandma worked for the church. He remembers that him and his brother in the summers would go and help his grandma fold the church bulletins and he remembers going to vacation bible class. His family were believers but not consistent and not disciples.

Three years ago, a young upper class white guy from Texas, Willie O’Quinn took this black guy from the urban community of St Louis under his wings as A.J. puts it. They spent time studying the word together and going to church for about 2 years straight. In this past April, A.J. was baptized into Christ and is heavily involved in his campus ministry group at the Lawrence Church of Christ, where Willie is now the campus minister. His mother is a big motivator in his life, because she started going back to church about 3 years ago and that really has motivated him spiritually by seeing her dive into her faith. He gives props to Willie for mentoring him and helping him to be the disciple of Christ that he is today.

One other guy who really has helped him since he has been at KU is the former NBA player and Jayhawk basketball player, Wayne Simien. A.J. really looks up to Wayne, as a black athlete that knew what his calling was to mentor to younger guys and bring them into the word of God. Wayne gave up professional basketball to go into full time ministry. A.J. gives all the glory to God for sending these two men to be part of his spiritual journey and his life. He looks up to them and respects them for sharing their faith with him and helping him grow to be a better young man. A.J. said he was being lazy in his spiritual walk and Willie and Wayne both called him out on it. He also told me that Dan Coke and Wayne Simien are the sport chaplains for KU and hold bible talks and bible studies with the team and they help him stay spiritually strong.  Before every game there is a pre-game chapel that Dan or Wayne spends time giving a 10-15 minute lesson about the bible and the field and how to be the young man of God on the playing field. Around 15-20 guys show up for the chapel and Coach Gill comes often. I asked him is he had to ever chose between faith and sports growing up or even today. A.J. said that church is good but it doesn’t define your faith. He has a devotional time weekly and spends time daily in prayer and in the word.

It seems to me that it would be hard to live for Christ and be an athlete. A.J. said there are times when things get in the way and we all make mistakes but he tries to be the leader because he wants to be the best example he can be. The rest of the KU Football team for the most part knows that he is a disciple of Christ. A.J. doesn’t drink and is heart is in the right place. The team knows he is just a goofy good guy and they see him leading prayers and at chapel and they see him at everything. He tries to be the best disciple of God by staying consistent and works on stay strong every day. When he makes a bad play, he gets on the sideline and spends time in prayer and also when he has a bad game, he goes home and spends time in the word and in prayer.

Temptation is all around for college athletes and as A.J. put it when you have teammates that are your family and are not in the right place and end up doing wrong and tempts you to go with them. A.J. takes the time to think about the example that he is setting and repents when he knows he sinned. He wants to step up and be accountable for his actions. There are those on the team that helps him do this, one in particular is Steven Johnson. Steven is also a spiritual leader on the team and has helped A.J. keep on the right track. We need this in our lives, others who can help us be accountable for our actions and help us grow spiritually.

There is one scripture that has really stood out to A.J. in his life because it really has opened his eyes about the every day things we go through in life. That passage is 1 Corinthians 9:24-27: “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. This passage has been very powerful in A.J.’s life and has made a difference in his life. So he puts this passage in his walk and runs for the prize and spiritually trains himself every day to be that disciple that God wants him to be.

A.J. also gave some advice to my 10 year old son who is playing tackle football for the first time in his life. A.J. told me to tell him that he was the backup to Kerry Meier and had limited playing time when he first got to KU. So he said that my son need to stay strong, be a good teammate, help the team and be prepared when your name is called and the time comes for you to step up to the line. You can’t control others but you can control yourself and pray. A.J. can mentor my son any day.

So how will the Kansas Jayhawks do this season in football? According to A.J., they will be a lot better and will have a lot of success. They have a lot of young guys on the team and they are clicking as a team and the world will be surprised what they will do this year together because they BELIEVE!

After finishing our conversation I asked if he had any comments he would like to make before I close. A.J. said that he was humbled by the opportunity to share with others about his faith.

“It means a lot to me that I can share with you and others my faith and I hope this can help others out a lot and encourage them in their walk with Christ.”~ A.J.

A.J. mentioned that Christian athletes don’t always get the opportunity to share their spiritual journey with others. With his campus ministry group this year, A.J. will be doing this be leading a Lifegroup (small bible study group) this year. His campus ministry group has a goal of reaching out to 21 students and bringing them to Christ this year. What an awesome goal to have.

“This interview has motivated me to be humble because others look up to me and it motivates me to let others know that I’m a Christian, a disciple of Jesus.” ~ A.J.

I truly appreciate the opportunity to visit with A.J. Steward, TE of the Kansas Jayhawks who by just listening to him inspired me to be a better spiritual leader. Thanks A.J. for your story, for your faith, for your passion for God, your passion for sports and passion to mentor  young men in this world. I know you are someone I would want my son to look up to. You wear Jesus on your heart and on the field. Keep believing because I believe in you. What a great lesson we can take from this young man’s life about Jesus and being his disciple is more important than anything else in life, even sports.

God Carries Our Burdens

Posted: August 19, 2011 by Ricky Keeler in College Football

(Photo Credit: MCT/Landov)

The Terrelle Pryor saga took a huge turn yesterday when the NFL declared him eligible for the NFL Supplemental Draft that will now occur on Monday. However, the commissioner Roger Goodell gave the declaration a little catch. Once Pryor is signed, he will be suspended the first five games of the 2011 season. He will not be allowed to practice with the team during that stretch, but, he is allowed to practice with them during the remainder of the preseason. Today, his attorney, David Cornwell, has said his client will appeal the suspension as soon as he is signed and hope the NFLPA can get it reduced.

Ironically, this is the same five game suspension that Pryor would have served had he just stayed at Ohio State for his senior year. I completely agree with the NFL on this decision. Clearly, Pryor tried to escape the suspension after agreeing to serve it after the Sugar Bowl. He used the NFL Supplemental Draft to try to avoid the punishment and he is paying for that now.

Whether you agree that these athletes should be paid or not, it is Pryor’s fault that he sold his memorabilia which he knew was against the rules in order to get a bunch of tattoos. Jim Tressel is to blame as we talked about a few weeks ago, but it is also on the players to know what they are doing is wrong even if they are 18 or 19 years old.

Without the Lord, we would carry our punishment with us wherever we go on only the first time that we break one of His commandments. Jesus tells us in the book of Matthew to come to Him with our burdens “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30)

Today, I exhort you to look to the Lord when you feel times of stress or feel guilty of a past transgression. He is our “advocate with the Father” (1 John 2:2), which means we can go to him with any of our problems. He carried the yoke for us when He died on the cross so that our sins can be forgiven! We should forgive others just as Christ forgave us in the case of Pryor. We hope he learned his lesson and wish him nothing but the best in his NFL career.