By Alex Byington
The Cove Herald
Roy Miller remembers what it was like going through his college recruitment process.
The feeling of excitement combined with that of nervous dread and fear.
With his father deployed during his senior season at Shoemaker in 2005, the current Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive lineman went through it with very little knowledge of what to expect, leaning on the direction and advice of others.
Because of those emotions, the former Grey Wolves star returned home this week to help the next generation of Killeen athletes.
"Ignorance is the worst thing you can have, not knowing about a situation, not knowing what's to come," Miller said Wednesday evening after speaking to parents, students and coaches in the Ellison auditorium. "That's what gets a lot of people, they didn't know there was help. ... That's the reason we did this deal because we didn't want these kids to not know."
Joined by ex-Roos receiver Juaquin Iglesias, now with the Houston Texans, retired Shoemaker head football coach Ken Gray and Jacqueline Griffin, the mother of Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III of Copperas Cove, the quartet expressed their take on the entire recruiting process for the Hometown Pros presentation "Spotlight of Recruiting and Scholarships."
Hometown Pros is a non-profit organization created by Miller, Iglesias and other local athletes in an effort to give back to their hometown community.
"It's the other side that we rarely talk about, and you expect these guys to know, and I guess that is the downfall of the whole system," Miller said.
Going over everything from good grades to personal conduct, Gray - who retired in June after 11 years leading the Grey Wolves athletic program from its inception - began the presentation by explaining the recruitment process like a job interview.
"It's kind of like coaching, they see the Friday nights, but they don't see the laundry has to be done, the uniforms have to be folded up," Gray said. "It's the same thing with these athletes.
"That's the kind of things these kids need to hear. Because everybody thinks they're the next Michael Jordan, well there's a lot of work behind the scenes (to get there)."
Education was a topic several of the speakers touched on, including Griffin, who spoke directly to the parents in the room when she promoted a hands-on approach to their children's future - be it in athletics or elsewhere.
"We need to take responsibility for our own kids," Griffin said.
Griffin, a retired Army sergeant who raised three children with her husband Robert Griffin Jr., expressed the importance of starting the recruiting process early on, including registering with the NCAA Clearinghouse and taking either the SAT or the ACT during the student-athlete's sophomore year of high school.
Already local success stories, having both made it to the top level of college football before going on to multi-year careers in the NFL, Miller and Iglesias spoke of using athletics as a platform to a successful life, even to the point of student-athletes marketing themselves as a brand.
"The brand is everything. ... (Colleges and professional organizations) want to see a complete package. You can't be getting in trouble, doing all those types of things and expect everybody to respect you," Miller said.
"Those are the types of things we want to instill in these kids because there's life after sports and really pros don't last long."
For more information on Hometown Pros, go to http://www.hometownpros.org