Growing up in Duncan, South Carolina, I never really cared too much about football teams in South Carolina. I never understood the pride of our state and why Clemson and South Carolina football was so big. I was always a fan of players, never the school, but for some reason when I got the offer letter from South Carolina at the end of my 11th-grade year, I was excited, not knowing what would unfold the next four years of my life.
Brad Lawing and Jay Graham came into my living room a couple weeks before my senior season in high school began to wind down. We talked for about an hour and honestly, I don't remember a thing except when coach Lawing asked me if I had any concerns. I told him what was in my heart, that I felt a lot of pressure to go there and contribute to be somewhat the face of Carolina football and turn the program around.
Coach Lawing said three words that really stuck with me forever -- "Just be yourself.” I knew after that where I would be attending school.
Did my three years at Carolina turn out the way I wanted? No. Did it turn out the way that God wanted it? Yes, and now I'm here in San Francisco and I realize that’s all that matters, and I wouldn't change a thing that happened.
The purpose of this letter is to tell all of you, thank you. Thank you for all of the memories, thank you for accepting me not knowing what you would get my freshman year. Everybody says they have the best fans no matter what school it is, but I know for sure we have the most loyal fans from hearing stories of when we didn't win a game and the stands would still be packed. Thank you for giving me something to represent at the highest level for the rest of my life. Thank you for giving me a sense of pride for the state of South Carolina. I have never been so proud to say I'm from this great state with the most genuine people in the world.
You sent love to me while I was in my darkest days and I got every card, letter, e-mail and text. No, I have not read them all, but when my playing days are over, I definitely will. You all showed me that life is short and not to take anything for granted. But most of all, you guys helped me grown in my walk with Jesus Christ. Thank you, Dylan Thompson. The adversity I was dealt with molded me into a man.
South Carolina is a part of my life forever and I will be back to help this university and community in any way I can, because that is what God called me to do. You accepted me, a scared young man, with open arms and let him grow. I love you all and thank you and know that you are all appreciated. Remember, when things don't make sense and all seems to be going wrong, trust in God because he does not make mistakes.
Now let's get Mike Davis that trophy next December!