I can tell you a lot about the player, Ethan Wolford, known throughout the Commonwealth of Kentucky as Big E and just what contributes to his being great. I can tell you he has the ideal frame for a college center at 6-3, 285 pounds with quick, agile, and nimble feet. I can talk about his devastating hand punch, low pad level, the way he runs his feet through the whistle, the way he commands the line, is alway on the same page with the QB on pre-snap reads, and rarely calls out the wrong blocking assignment. There’s a lot of things I can tell you. I can tell you how he anchored a line in 2017 which had two 1,000 plus rushers in the same backfield and paved the way for nearly 5,000 yards rushing. I can tell you about his being selected to the sophomore All-State Football Team or selected an All-American by the National Underclassmen Combine. I can tell you about the offers he has had extended and the FBS/FCS programs furiously courting him right now. I can tell you any of these things, but, instead I would like to tell you something else.
Social media is a curious thing. I met Ethan’s dad over Facebook. He reached out to me on Facebook sometime after my serving on a selection committee which selected Big E to the AFI-KPG Sophomore All-State Football team. I had before talked to neither Tommy nor Ethan Wolford, had never met either of them, and had never conversed with either of them over any type of platform. Tommy Wolford is career military soldier and he is in White Sands, NM, as I am writing this, until the 1st of September whereupon he will be deployed back to the Middle East and will miss almost all of Ethan’s junior year and Big E’s complete senior season. The two of us share a love of Kentucky High School football and our children and we have formed a close friendship in spite of the distance between the two areas in which we reside. Tommy is a subscriber to KPGFootball, an ardent supporter of both the site and what it is trying to do for the youth of Kentucky, and a tireless advocate for the online magazine in spite of our only having met once, this summer, when Big E and Tommy came to my Mountain Combine in Pikeville. I love them both, as does my son, William Long. They are family to us. I know that sounds incredible, but it doesn’t make it any less true.
Tommy has asked something of KPGFootball. He has entrusted us with something sacred. He has asked us to do something for him these next two Fall seasons. He has asked of us something he would do personally if his commitment to his Country didn’t interfere with the doing of it. He has asked KPGFootball to be his eyes and ears, over Big E’s next two seasons, to include his all-important senior season, and inform him about Big E‘s play. Tommy has asked that we report on his son enabling him to read the accounts on our digital magazine to which he will have internet access wherever he may find himself stationed during his deployment. It is something special he has entrusted to us. It is something KPGFootball will gladly undertake for our friend, for the person whose sacrifices allow us to live in a free Country which permits this very expression. As we enter the 2018 season, there is one more bit of recognition I feel compelled to memorialize. I want to tell you about a young man grinding and working everyday; notwithstanding his having to play most of the next two seasons without his number one fan cheering him from the grandstands.
As my eyes fill up with tears writing this, and my heart swells under the burden of the immense love which naturally accompanies the father/child dynamic, I want to tell Big E something Tommy would tell my son, William Long, were the roles reversed. Your dreams are all out there in front of you, son. All you have to do is be faithful to your God, to your family, to your coaches, to your team. You have been given the ability to play the game of football to a level few will be sophisticated enough to even appreciate. Your father loves you very much and you can be rest assured he would be at every practice, and every game, but for the oath he has sworn to defend this great Country and its Constitution. He’s doing what he has to do to ensure you continue to get to have the opportunities your hard work has netted for you. You have been faithful to your craft and developing your talents and abilities in spite of the immense sacrifice you have made and for which you didn’t enlist. While most acknowledge your father’s sacrifice, though not as fully as he deserves, KPGFootball feels at least we can publish something about the immense sacrifice being required of you.
Run through that tunnel and out onto that field, son and show everybody the fruits of your sacrifices, of your hard work. We love you Big E. Now, go out there with the rest of Haywood’s Hogs and give them Hell. We will make sure Tommy hears all about it.
Reporting for KPGFootball, this is Fletcher Long reminding all of you ballers out there to PLAY THROUGH THE WHISTLE.
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