The intent isn’t to throw one player under the bus while propping up another, but for those who read the recent Miami Herald article on freshman offensive lineman Ereck Flowers, you’d have to be hard-pressed to not draw a correlation between his efforts and those of maligned junior lineman Seantrel Henderson.
Without giving too much away, as the article by Manny Navarro is really worth the read, Flowers is a kid wise and mature beyond his years. Hearing his story shows you why he’ll start as a true freshman this weekend at Boston College. This is a focused kid willing to put in the work to achieve his dream.
Flowers lost his mother, Tayna Stokes, when he was six years old and his father, Everald Flowers, was forced to become the ultimate parent.
Early on Ereck was angry over losing his mother, but Everald found a way to help his son channel that energy into a passion. The message was delivered that Tanya wanted more for her son. She wanted Ereck to make the most of himself and sports helped his healing process. Everald did his job off the field, but on as he coached Ereck, as well.
Neither father or son have made much time for a personal life, due to the blow life dealt them. Everald soaked up his roll as full-time father – and coach – while Ereck remained focused on his college and professional football dream.
No time for homecoming, prom or graduation. Ereck took night and online classes, so he could graduated early (he did) and enroll early (he arrived at UM in January). UM coaches asked him to stronger after the spring game and he’s since shed seven pounds, while upping his reps from 15 to 25 regarding the NFL testing standard of benching 225 pounds.
Everald helped Ereck take on this summertime transformation, as well, driving to Coral Gables four nights a week to work out for two hours a night. Weights. Plyometrics. Footwork training. Anything to help Ereck get a leg up on earning a starting spot in fall.
“In the end, you always want your kid to have a better life than you,” the elder Flowers said.
On one level it’s unfair to contrast this situation to Henderson’s as he obviously isn’t receiving the same family push towards success. Those who followed the recruiting trail in summer 2010 will recall Sean Henderson diving headfirst into the recruiting game with his son. There were also stories about his personal interest in a career as a rapper, which some said sparked the decision to go to USC in the first place.
But what Henderson didn’t have in parental support he had in God-given ability. Currently standing 6-foot-8 and 340 pounds to Flowers’ “smaller” 6-foot-6 and 314 pounds, Henderson was given a leg-up just by being born.
A kid like Flowers – and so many others – will always have to out-work the guy with the natural talent, and to his credit, he has. That’s why he’s starting as a true freshman while Henderson has bounced up, down and all around the past few seasons.
Missing practice for a few funerals this summer is definitely tragic, but it hasn’t been Henderson’s downfall. Coaches have long-since pointed out that his head needs to catch up with his body if he’ll ever achieve greatness.
In this case, Henderson doesn’t even need to look up for advice. Just look down. Anything missed from parents or coaches in his life, he now has a shining example in ‘the way’ by just following the path of Flowers.
Maybe next time Everald is working with Ereck, Seantrel can get an invite to the party as it just might save his entire career.