Before training camps kick off, a number of players and some coaches will pay tribute to people who helped them make it to the NFL as part of the AFC South Blog’s summer series: “Early Influence.”
FordJacob Ford, Titans defensive end
“My high school coach Tim Thompson, he’s really why I learned a lot of my skills. We were being taught a lot of stuff that some college cats never learned. We were given a lot of opportunities; we were taken around to a lot of different places, to perform in front of colleges like Auburn and Kentucky and places like that.
“We worked real hard. I know people say they work hard. But the amount of work we did in high school compared to the stuff we do now, I really can’t say there was much of a difference. I was prepared so well for college football wise, we just had a large advantage. We were taught from such a young age to work hard every day, to run to the ball, to work on our hands, work on our feet.
“And those things carry over. And they really helped carry me through college, to the NFL where I’ve learned new things on top of them. I was so advanced in high school that most of the stuff we were learning on college I already knew.
“The last time I talked to him was about three years ago. I know a lot of players from my high school who came through during the time he was there have gone onto success in the NFL -- Dewayne Robertson, Andre Lott, Cedric Wilson. There have been a lot of cats that got the opportunity to go to the NFL and do something with it. When you look back at it, that really goes back to Thompson.”