Well, I have a new hero this week, and he’s an Arab football player.
His name is Titus Shell, and you’ve probably never heard of him. I hadn’t, not until the opening day of preseason camp on Monday.
I had just returned to the Arab practice field after a visit to Brindlee Mountain to see part of the Lions’ opening practice. And it was hot, scorching hot, at both places.
And the players were feeling it.
Shortly after walking into Arab’s practice, I stepped into the old concession stand restroom. I was drinking water, too.
Anyway, as I stepped out, I noticed I was blocked by Arab players taking a water break. That bothered me not at all. I was in no hurry to get back out there in the sun.
It took a while for all the players to get some much-needed hydration. Some players were dipping their heads into a big tub of ice water sitting next to the drinking water.
As I stood there for several minutes, I noticed this small kid waiting to get his share of water. He wore No. 46. And he seemed to be a good foot or more shorter than most of the other kids around him.
When the players finally returned to the practice field, I asked new head athletic trainer Sammi Kirkland who No. 46 was.
“I’m not sure,” she said. “Everybody just calls him Titus.”
I asked her what he weighed.
“Seventy-five pounds soaking wet,” she replied.
Kirkland’s guess was spot on. Assistant coach Phil Puccio later told me Titus’ full name and that he is 5-foot-1, 74 pounds and a freshman.
I think I weighed 74 pounds in the third grade.
I watched ol’ No. 46 a lot after that, especially after Kirkland told me, “He never gives up.”
From what I could tell, Titus plays receiver. As a freshman, of course, he’ll play junior varsity this season, and unless he grows a little, probably next season, too.
But Kirkland was correct again. He doesn’t give up. Playing against guys twice his size, he lined up every time he was told to and ran the play.
Now, some of the 250-pound-plus linemen running sprints in the heat and throwing up might take exception for me singling out a much smaller player. And make no mistake: They had my admiration, too.
It’s hard to play football at any level, and I respect anyone who does.
But to see Titus out there, battling with the big boys, well, it was an inspiration.
I hope he reaches his dreams, in sports and in life.
• The ACC Network will hit the airwaves on Aug. 22. It will offer 24-hour coverage of the Atlantic Coast Conference, with live games and in-depth analysis of the 15 teams in the league.
DirecTV, Hulu Live, Playstation Vue and several other national broadcast services currently have agreements in place to air the ACC Network, which is owned by ESPN, when it’s up.
Spectrum, as of this writing, does not have a deal in place.