Former Kennesaw State football player Prentice Stone leads kids to a better path

prentice-stone

When he was in high school Prentice Stone knew a number of kids who did not take their education seriously. The resulting consequences were they could not get into the colleges they desired and/or prevented them from participating in athletics.

Stone did not allow that to happen to him and he is doing his part to make sure that does not happen to others.

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A year after he was a member of Kennesaw State’s inaugural football team Stone is teaching and coaching freshman football at Campbell High School, a few miles outside Atlanta.

“To get into these kids’ lives and show them the importance of education as well as being productive on the playing field and taking the right path in doing it,” he said when asked about the role he has undertaken at Campbell. “It is rewarding, but mainly I like to help them grow into young men and women.”

Many young men and women could only benefit from understanding how Stone remained focused and dedicated to his goals in the classroom, and life in general, despite some rough times.

While at Sprayberry High School in his home town of Marietta, Ga., he endured a separation from his parents and was adopted by one of his teachers. Stone ultimately reconciled with his parents though his father, Prentice Sr., passed away last October.

“Coming from where I come from with my background, being able to have success in the classroom was a big deal to me,” he said. “Going through high school I did not fall into the trap of being lazy in the classroom and not taking things seriously.”

Stone’s accolades at Sprayberry included being a second-team all-state performer on the football field and a scholar-athlete award winner off it. He committed to Eastern Kentucky, but never took the field for the Colonels. Three hernias and complications from surgery shut him down, and almost for good.

He returned to the Peach State and enrolled at KSU in 2014 to finish his undergraduate work, earning a bachelor’s in exercise science. As he was going to class one day he ran into Owls’ coach Brian Bohannon, who as an assistant at Georgia Tech a few years earlier had recruited Stone. Bohannon suggested that he should try out for the team, which immediately began playing at the FCS level as a member of the Big South Conference.

Three years since he last played Stone started 10 of KSU’s 11 games and averaged 21.9 yards on 24 kick returns while catching nine passes in a run-first system.

“I tried to give it one more go and starting off it was a little rough getting back into football shape, getting the muscle memory back,” he said. “Once I got it back I was good to go, but it started off pretty rough.”

His lone season of college football was yet another example of how he persevered. In May, Stone had the rather unique distinction of becoming the first football player in KSU history to graduate.

“It was a neat feeling, but lonely at the same time,” said the aspiring high school athletic director. “Everybody was returning to the team and I was the only one leaving. So it was a little bittersweet.”

Stone returned to the classroom at KSU, however. In July he was named one of five national recipients of the John McLendon Minority Postgraduate Scholarship, an award given to students who intend to pursue a graduate degree in athletics administration.

Stone will commence graduate courses in special education starting in the spring semester. Through that program he will be able to teach a student-athlete population that often lacks attention.

Whatever roles he ultimately undertakes during his career, Stone’s message to aspiring student-athletes is one that should resonate throughout the halls of any high school or college.

“You should take pride in being able to achieve in the classroom and it is important to get your education because you need it in this day and age,” he said. “Sports do not last forever and you should want to be a well-rounded individual who can educate himself and pass your knowledge along to others.

You don’t want to be sitting around saying, ‘I wish I would have.’”


Photo courtesy Kennesaw State University Photography

 

Tom Layberger

Tom Layberger

Tom Layberger is a freelance writer based in Glen Mills, Pa. Follow him on Twitter at @FallFootball