Second chance athletes making impact for Bulldogs

NCAA Football

FRISCO, Texas (WOOD) — Ferris State football head coach Tony Annese isn’t afraid to give players a second chance.

“That’s what an educator does,” he said. “I hope all coaches are willing to try to work with young people, try to bring out the best that’s in them.”

Annese says one of the most important human emotions is empathy.

“You should be empathetic towards (players’) needs, you should have empathy for their circumstances,” he said.

The Bulldogs have two players who needed a second chance following some missteps in their lives, and both have made an enormous impact on the team.

Quarterback Jayru Campbell, who lost his scholarship to Michigan State University after body slamming a security guard at his high school, has made the most of his opportunity to play quarterback for the Bulldogs.

“He’s been a blessing, he’s been a blessing for everyone,” Annese said. “He’s made this team tough.”

The other player is defensive back DeShaun Thrower, a former Mr. Basketball winner from Muskegon. Thrower started his college career playing basketball at Stoney Brook before being charged with felony grand larceny and criminal mischief for allegedly breaking into a car on campus.

“You know, one bad decision can change your life forever,” Thrower said.

For Thrower, a second chance meant getting his life back on the right track.

“It’s real important (to get that second chance),” he said. “Talking to my high school coaches, their like, ‘you gotta get back on the right track. Even if you do mess up, it’s not over.’

“I wanted to show, everybody makes mistakes, but it takes a lot in you to bounce back from that mistake. I just want to prove a whole lot of people wrong.”

Annese said he thinks helping his players find the best version of themselves is the most important part of being a good coach.

“Young people sometimes have great personal qualities that they really haven’t found their way yet,” he said. “It’s our job to help them find their way to the best of our ability.

“That’s what I think good coaching is. To me, I would hang my hat on that being the most important criteria for being a good coach: to care for the kids you serve.”

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