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The perseverance of #55

Dalton Freeman's mom, Gwen Freeman wrote this. This will give you her perspective as her son started his final season at Clemson through the draft. We sincerely thank Gwen for sharing this with us and hope you enjoy it.

In 2012 Dalton Freeman was an All American, Academic All American and Strength & Conditioning All American.

It's over...
There are two lessons being taught in the Pelion area schools today. Math lessons are centered on the concept that numbers don’t always add up, and the second is an impressive vocabulary lesson for all ages concerning the word “persevere”. As a retired teacher, I am pleased these lessons are being taught with the exception that they came at the expense of my family’s agonizing weekend.

I am currently looking out my window to see if I can find the train that ran over me sometime last night. I’m standing at the window where dreams, hopes, prayers, and lots of faith have transpired over the past 22 years. I am also standing where my son stood this weekend looking for answers and praying for a miracle while on the most excruciating faith walk of his life thus far. Known to many as “Big D”, “Freebird”, or “The Bearded Wonder”, he is simply my Superman who still brings me laundry, wants me to fix him biscuits, and loves to just “hang out“. Perhaps in Clemson terms, he is/was best known as just “55”.

Clemson preseason 2012

Dalton started his last season in Clemson very, very sick. Even though he overcame all the odds, the NFL scouts rolled into Clemson last fall, with one chance. What they saw haunted him through this past weekend. They branded him too small, undersized and not strong enough for the next league. Forget it. Dalton’s NFL career was over before it ever started. (These guys obviously never read Proverbs 16:9. Dalton’s steps were not theirs to determine.)

Pray, study and train

Now, 55 did not take this very well…not well at all. He began to push. He began to pray harder and to study more. He worked and continued to believe anything, through faith, was possible. Armed with warrior angels, he did not give up, nor did he give in to the critics. 55 ended his season the most decorated center in the country: All American, Academic All American, Strength and Conditioning All American.

Not enough. Dalton had to train and train he did. 6000 calories a day. Pushing, lifting, running, moving, straining, studying, he trained. He left for Pensacola weighing in at the low 280’s, only to return to pro day at 291, and then on to weigh in at the Kansas City Chief’s facility at 296.

He was one of the first picked in Pensacola to receive Combine Gear, and one of the only ones not invited. The numbers did not add up once again, and again he persevered.

Dalton finished his career with a big win over LSU.

Dalton just trained harder. My “little engine that could” would not, did not give up or give in to the negative. Philippians 4:13. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” was the mantra.

Pro day

Pro Day, Clemson University, March 7, 2013. Dalton had the best shuttle, 40, vertical, and broad jump of all the centers in this country. Only 2 other linemen in the country did more bench reps at 225. His final scores at the end of the day put him in the top 5 of ALL linemen in the country. We believed. We knew people would notice. We knew this would have to turn heads. Numbers don’t lie. Film doesn’t lie.
It didn’t matter.

The NFL draft

Welcome to the NFL Draft. Welcome to hell time. Welcome to where only the opinion of one or two scouts and not your body of work matters. Welcome to the fork in the road where hard work goes one way and the opinions go another. Welcome to the most excruciating weekend of a family’s life.

Welcome to days of hearing all the voices, all the plans, all the “we want ya’s and we are going to take ya in this round” reach to heaven only to be slammed back to the ground. Welcome to our weekend where the phone didn’t ring the right way and where all thought the spirit would be totally and completely crushed once and for all. (ummm…Romans 5:5-8)

55 won.
At the end of the day, he won.

Perseverance

Dalton Freeman paving the way for Andre Ellington was a staple for 4 years.

No, I am not the mother of a drafted player. I am not the mother of a big signing bonus. I did not stand behind him and have that celebratory champagne toast. We did not have a big party. We did not see or hear his name on television.
We got something better…

I am the mother of an NFL player.
My son is the second team center.
My son will train behind one of the best in the country.
My son is on a team that repeatedly calls him over and over to welcome him, to thank him, and to remind him of what a great career is in store for him.
My son boards a plane shortly with fans, prayers, and a family’s love that can and will support him through it all.
My son has an unwavering faith and a God that plans to help him prosper, through the good and the bad.

My son is a New York Jet, a former Clemson Tiger, an All American, a little ole’ boy from the dirt road town of Pelion, but mostly a child of God. The numbers may not add up the first go round or the second…but if you persevere, great things will happen.

On August 9, 2013, I plan on walking into the Detroit Lions Stadium and watch my son play in his first NFL preseason game. I hope New York, New Jersey, and the Detroit Lions fans are ready. Dalton Freeman is coming and so is his biggest fan. Everyone knows you don’t mess with a redneck mom that has added it all up and persevered right beside her son… especially one that has Tiger Blood running through her veins…

Now…to find that train and get it back on the right track…

Jeremiah 29:11-13

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