I’ve always been a very loyal person.
If you have my back, I’m going to have yours. And I’ll be with you until the end.
It’s who I am.
Because of everything the University of Oklahoma has done for me, it’s a no-brainer to support our student-athletes in any way I can.
Today. And tomorrow.
When we win. And when we lose.
That’s why I love sharing my experiences, giving back and being a mentor for our football players.
Ever since I joined the Sooners, I’ve bled crimson and cream.
I owe so much of my life to OU, their athletic program, and generous donors such as Michael Price — it’s hard to put into words.
But I’ll give it a try…
Prominence in Norman
When I look back at my time as a player at OU, it’s almost like a little Cinderella story for me.
Because of coaches like Jerry Schmidt and Mike Stoops, who constantly pushed me, I achieved everything I wanted to.
I won the Jim Thorpe and Bronko Nagurski awards, was awarded Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, was recognized as a first-team All-American, and earned many other honors.
Of course, the crowning achievement was winning the national championship in 2000 with my teammates and brothers.
Being part of such a special team, man, I’ll never take that for granted. The legacy of that squad will live on forever.
But when you actually take a step back and reflect a bit on those moments, you realize that none of it would have been possible without the resources OU provided to its student-athletes.
And these resources exist because of people like Michael Price.
Most people don’t know that I was actually the foundational player and first honorary recipient of the Michael F. Price Family Football Scholarship. Gratitude is the first word that comes to mind, but perhaps that’s underselling it.
Michael and his generosity changed my life. Thanks to his kindness, philanthropy and dedication he poured into OU, I was able to accomplish my dreams in Norman and have a great career in the NFL.
In fact, his support is also one of the main reasons I decided to go back to school in 2017 and finish my degree. Well, and the promise I made to my mom.
It just felt like I had some unfinished business, you know?
And graduating almost felt like I ‘completed’ Michael’s investment.
The experiences and memories I’ll forever cherish at OU are in large part due to donors like Michael, who understood the importance of giving back and seeing student-athletes grow, succeed and ultimately reach their full potential.
It’s something I’ll never forget.
A continual blessing
In 2021, I know that Michael Price and The Price Family Foundation added two additional scholarships.
This now gives three football players the ability to enjoy the financial freedom I was fortunate enough to experience myself all those years ago.
I may not be a student-athlete anymore, but I’m still very closely connected to OU and the entire Sooner family. Hearing about all the initiatives the athletic department is undertaking to maximize the well-being of its student-athletes, it just brings a big smile to my face.
It’s one thing to say you care about the well-being and success of your student-athletes, but it’s so incredibly impactful to take action and do something about it, you know?
And that’s what OU and its loyal donors continue to do.
Showing their support and providing opportunities and resources to student-athletes just like myself back in the day — that’s what makes OU such a special place.
Beyond the football field
And the donations of individuals like Michael Price aren’t just for football player scholarships, either.
The Price Family Foundation, for example, also pledged $1.5 million toward the Michael F. Price Sooner Wellness System with a particular emphasis on sports performance, sports nutrition, sports medicine and mental health programs.
This is something I’m extremely passionate about.
OU has always been a leader in investing in its athletes and putting them in the best possible positions to succeed — we were also the first athletic department in the country to hire a full-time sports psychologist.
And while some of those resources weren’t available 20 years ago, it means a lot to see these advancements.
Science has improved.
Athletes have evolved.
Demands have changed.
And that requires different approaches.
Every football player now has free access to the Calm app, too.
People sometimes forget that being a student-athlete takes a big mental toll as well.
That’s why giving them access to platforms like Calm to manage and relieve their stress levels are innovative game-changers for us Sooners.
When I take a closer look at the resources OU provides today, it just makes me incredibly proud that my teammates and I were able to help pave the way because of the success we were able to accomplish with our program.
I’ll always be eternally grateful for that.
Pay it forward
During my college and NFL career, I learned quite a bit of life lessons.
Undoubtedly, from my time at OU, one of those lessons is about giving back and paying it forward.
As much as I value the national championship in 2000, for example, it was the hospital visits and us working with the kids there that really left a lasting impression.
Experiences like that really teach you lessons for life.
Pair that with the generosity and support I received from OU and various donors such as Michael, and I can definitely say that I left OU as a better man.
In fact, it inspired me to become a donor and support various areas within the OU ecosystem myself.
When you become part of the OU family, you’re a Sooner for life. They’ll do everything in their power to protect you and set you up for success.
I absolutely loved playing football and being a student-athlete at OU, but I enjoy being on the other side of the fence, too.
Following in the giant footsteps of Michael Price and the leadership of President Joe Harroz Jr. and Athletic Director Joe Castiglione, I’ll continue to do whatever I can to leave a positive mark on my alma mater.