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Ealy's play, actions made an impressionPosted Wednesday, November 6, 2013, at 7:05 AM
I 've rooted for tons of our local athletes to make it past the high school show and into the bigger, brighter arena of college athletics.
I've known some would sign that letter of intent, venture outside of southeast Missouri and have no problem dealing with the pressures of competing on the next stage. Then, there's others where, although I hoped for the best, sadly their potential for a college education made a turn for the worse.
Kony Ealy was a question mark for me in 2010.
Then, at 6-5, 230 pounds, the former New Madrid County Central Eagle had the look of a college star. His upside was tremendous and anyone that knew him, or knew of him, thought he could become something much bigger than an all-state lineman.
But then there's the other side. The other side that pegged Ealy as an underachiever. Although there were glimpses, the teenager that took a few plays off and never really blossomed into that dominant force that couldn't be stopped didn't present himself.
That's one of the few problems with potential, especially with athletes. If fans think and expect more of a player, lots of times they're written off as lazy. Questions of 'What could have been' pop up every time his name is mentioned.
Kony Ealy was one of those players during his days at NMCC. What would become of him? Stud? Or dud?
I was fortunate enough to take in the Missouri-Tennessee football game Saturday and had a chance to talk with Ealy after their 31-3 win. I introduced myself and I wasn't quite sure if he remembered the bald guy who used to interview him after Friday night football games. And to be honest, I wasn't quite sure who this monster of a man was sitting in front of me, beaten, banged and barefoot after three hours of SEC football.
Ealy is now 275-pounds of pure muscle. I knew with the right conditioning program he would grow, but I was still taken aback by his transformation. This wasn't the high school kid I was talking to anymore.
Then, he started to speak.
As much growing as he's done physically, Ealy is just as matured between the ears.
I heard him speak about how everything he does is for the team and no matter what, his team will get his best each and every play. And I believed him.
I saw him lead on the field. I watched as he was the first one to greet the offense as they trotted off the field or pilot a conversation about X's and O's on the sideline. No. 47 was one of the first players on the field for warmups and the very last one to say goodbye to fans as players left for the locker room following the game.
Rest assured NMCC, one of your favorite sons deserves to be called as such.
The potential Ealy shown back when he was wearing green is now beginning to show itself. We all knew he had the physical tools, it was the other side where concern lingered.
The redshirt junior, who is one of the anchors of what is argued as the best defensive line in the country, is no longer a question mark. He's becoming the force we all wanted to see back in the day.
No matter what path he decides to take in the future -- NFL or a position within his Agriculture major -- Ealy's potential, like in the past, is through the roof.
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I have been with the Standard Democrat sports department for nearly six years. I took over as sports editor in May of last year and have been slightly crazy about sports for the last 26 years. I attended Southeast Missouri State University and Scott County Central High School. I co-created our sports web show "The Last Word" and my two children, Elijah and CJ. I love to golf, I am an avid NBA2K gamer and root for the Fighting Irish on Saturdays. Once, my son beat me at 2K...he's four.
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