Columbus High School senior offensive lineman Eric Sherrod smiles Wednesday after signing a National Letter of Intent to play football at East Central Community College in Decatur. Eric’s father, Eric, and his mother, Keysha, are with him. Photo by: Adam Minichino/Dispatch Staff Buy this photo.
February 16, 2017 10:50:59 AM
Eric Sherrod knows what it's like not to be noticed.
At 6-foot-4, 280 pounds, it's pretty hard not to see Sherrod. But the Columbus High School offensive lineman entered his senior without much to go on. He hadn't seen much playing time as a junior, so even though he harbored dreams of playing football in college, he wasn't really sure if he could attract the attention of college coaches.
"I thought I wasn't going to sign," Sherrod said.
But Sherrod said he relied on a strong offseason in which he put in the work to prepare him for his one season leading the way for Mississippi State signee Kylin Hill and a talented backfield that also included C.J. Gholar and Kendre Conner. He also trusted in God that someone would notice his work and be interested enough to give him a chance to continue his playing career.
That dream became a reality Wednesday morning when Sherrod signed a National Letter of Intent to play football at East Central Community College in Decatur.
"You have to give it to God for giving me the opportunity," Sherrod said. "I went to East Central (for a workout) and did the best to my ability and they liked it."
Sherrod said East Central offensive line coach Dennis Alexander contacted him about three days after National Signing Day to see if he had signed. When Sherrod informed Alexander he hadn't, they arranged a workout in Decatur for him to show what he could do. Even though it was tough to remain patient, Sherrod said the timing worked out for the best.
"When I didn't play my junior year it gave me the drive to go and say, 'Hey coach, I should have been out there,' " Sherrod said. "When I went out this season, there wasn't anything but motivation and desire in my eyes to go out there and to prove to everybody I should have been out there. I believe I did do that."
Sherrod admitted he started out "shaky" but ended on a strong note. He said he "had to get the feel for it" after the season opener against Noxubee County. He said he was nervous in part because he realized the enormity of the opportunity he had to make an impression as a senior. He credited his teammates for keeping him positive and focused.
"After the first game, I went in the film room and saw I made some mistakes and made some good plays," said Sherrod, whoo played right tackle. "Coach said if you can make a good play, you can make another one right after it."
Columbus High football coach Randal Montgomery said Sherrod worked hard in the offseason to prepare himself for the rigors starting upfront in the state's highest classification. He also praised the work offensive line coach Tobias Smith, a former standout at Mississippi State, did with Sherrod to help him be ready for the physical and mental challenges.
"As a coach, you kind of wonder if somebody is going to take a shot on him," Montgomery said. "Just like I told him, better late than never."
Montgomery said finding places for players like Sherrod, who don't have a long resume of accomplishments, is sometimes difficult because coaches are hesitant to take chances on players. He said coaches have to make phone calls and send emails and videos or clips from games to college coaches to show that their players can do. Montgomery also said college coaches might see one player when they are scouting another player or watching film of one prospect.
Montgomery said Sherrod improved and improved and started to attract the attention of college coaches who came to the school to watch other players. Just as it might be easier for some college coaches to trust a two- or a three-year starter, Montgomery said some college coaches will go after players like Sherrod without a lot of experience because he said they feel those players don't have a lot of bad habits, which means they will be able to mold them into their system. He feels Sherrod fits that bill for East Central C.C.
"They realize a kid has a lot more potential to play because he was able to play one year and turn that into a college scholarship," said Montgomery, who said Sherrod will play tackle at the next level. "He came out from Game 1 to Game 12 and grew so much. He is a young guy who still has some growing to do in the weight room. I think they see the future he has in front of him.
"He just got in there and worked. He wants to be a good offensive lineman, He wanted to go to college and play, and he got out there and worked. His improvement from Game 1 to Game 12 was just as good as anybody's."
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Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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