Former Greenwood High School and LSU standout Sam Montgomery was given an opportunity Wednesday afternoon that very few individuals get the chance to experience.
Montgomery, who is projected to be an early second round pick in tonight’s 2013 NFL Draft, hosted Sam Montgomery Day at the Brewer Recreation Center Wednesday afternoon. As Montgomery explained, it was an opportunity for him to give back and say thanks to the people who have supported him most throughout his young career.
“It’s like an outer body experience,” Montgomery said. “Just seeing all the people that have motivated me, they have no idea how I feel when I see their faces. To be able to give back to them made this day such a blessing. It has been a wonderful day.”
Hundreds of Greenwood natives flooded the Brewer Recreation Center with the chance to meet Montgomery, as he took numerous pictures and signed autographs throughout the event. Montgomery will join high school teammate and former University of South Carolina free safety D.J. Swearinger as likely draftees. The duo will join current Carolina Panthers teammates Armanti Edwards and Josh Norman as Greenwood High School alumni that are on NFL rosters. Shell Dula, who served as head coach for each of the four players during their time at Greenwood, attended Wednesday’s event.
“This is great,” Dula said. “Hopefully Sam (Montgomery), D.J. (Swearinger), Armanti (Edwards), and Josh (Norman) all will have a desire to give back to the community. You never want to forget where you came from. He (Montgomery) hasn’t forgotten these folks here that have been such a vital part of his past, helping him get to where he is now.”
With the uncertainty of his future looming, Montgomery explained that seeing familiar faces Wednesday proved to be a beneficial experience.
“I was nervous about (the draft) before I came back home,” Montgomery said. “But now that I’m here in my city, it really doesn’t matter. First round, second round, third round, fourth round, it will be a win in Greenwood. Everyone here will come to me with so much love, so much passion; it’s not even going to matter where I go. ”
For whatever franchise selects him in this weekend’s 2013 NFL Draft, the defensive end is ready to make an immediate impact once he steps on the field.
“I’m ready to play now,” Montgomery said. “I’m going to help my team win games and I just love to play the game of football.”
The former LSU star and hometown hero also served as the keynote speaker of the event, where he reflected on his career, past, present, and future. As he addressed hundreds of onlookers, one thing became very clear: As his high school coach, Dula, pointed out, Montgomery has not, and never will, forget the people who have helped mold him into the person he is today.
“This city is my heart,” Montgomery told his audience. “Sam Montgomery did not make Greenwood. Greenwood made Sam Montgomery.”