Published 3:57pm Monday, March 7, 2016
By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor
ALABASTER – When Thompson High School football coach Mark Freeman arrived on campus in late 2014, he quickly noticed something about running back Carlos Stephens.
“The minute I got here, I met Carlos, and for about a week I couldn’t get him to smile. And he said ‘Coach, I’m just a serious person,’” Freeman said. “I told him ‘I’m serious too, but we’re going to have fun in the process.’”
But Stephens couldn’t hold back the smiles as he walked to the podium a few minutes after Freeman spoke.
After multiple productive years for the Thompson Warriors football team, Stephens caught the eye of a local football team on the rebound. Surrounded by family and friends, Stephens inked a scholarship with the UAB Blazers during a March 7 ceremony in the THS library.
“First off, I just want to thank God for giving me this opportunity to play at the college level. I thank my parents for being my biggest supporters,” Stephens told the crowd. “I appreciate everyone for doing everything they’ve done for me. I appreciate my teammates, without who I would not be able to accomplish any of this. Y’all all played a role in this, and I appreciate every one of you for supporting me.”
Stephens is among the first batch of signees for the Blazers since UAB reinstated its football team last year after canceling the program in 2014.
“Carlos, we are very proud of you and what you’ve accomplished. You are certainly a bright and shining star for the Thompson Warriors this year, and you have been for many years,” said THS Principal Dr. Wesley Hester. “I’m so proud you get to make your dreams come true and that we all get to share with you in doing that. We wish you the best.”
Freeman said Stephens carried through with his “serious” mindset on and off the field by continuously giving his best effort.
“I can say this with all the players standing in here: I don’t think we had anybody who worked any harder than Carlos. Every day, he just did everything we asked him to do – He even smiled,” Freeman said. “I’m just so proud that he’s going to get this opportunity. (UAB is) a good program, it’s on the way up, and now we’ve got blood in that program.”
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