DEXTER – Johnny O'Neal, all 230 pounds of him, acknowledged defeat by sitting down in his locker and staring at the ceiling. The 2013 linebacker had been bested by his uniform, which he couldn't pull over his shoulder pads after finishing up a photo shoot on a random day in February.
He needed help and West Laurens coach Stacy Nobles was there to provide assistance. That's a role Nobles has embraced, whether it be tugging on the most recent Georgia commitment's jersey or aiding in his star player's recruitment.
"These kids aren't pieces of meat to me," Nobles, who played running back at Liberty University in the late 90s, said. "I'm going to love Johnny regardless, wherever Johnny goes and whatever Johnny does. These kids aren't tools for me to win. I want to win as bad as anybody, but I'm here to take care and mentor these kids."
Nobles is one part of a three-pronged support system for O'Neal. His mother and father go to all his games and have given him advice since he was old enough to listen.
"On Friday nights you can hear my dad saying, ‘Go Raiders.' It's pretty amazing," O'Neal said. "No matter where I go or how far I go they're still my number one fans."