A Q&A With Former MSU Athlete Cortez McCraney

Former Mississippi State football player Cortez McCraney, who has been working with the MSU campus Fellowship of Christian Athletes the past couple of years, will be attending seminary college at Dallas Theological Seminary later this year. Gene's Page did a one-on-one interview with Cortez about working with the MSU FCA and his decision to attend seminary college.

Once you finished your football career at Mississippi State what did you do?
"In 2009, I went with the Baltimore Ravens as a free agent and went to their mini-camp. After that, they invited me to come to their rookie camp. I didn't get signed. But after that I came back to Mississippi State and Josh Gilreath, our former FCA Director, asked me to intern with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. I decided I would."

Why did you decide to do that?
"I don't know how familiar you are with how I wound up getting to Mississippi State. I signed with the University of Memphis out of high school and had a really bad attitude. I really didn't buy into doing up-downs and all the things that are involved in the team concept. I thought if one person gets in trouble they should be punished. My attitude was bad and my heart was harden.

"But I was given a second chance (by Mississippi State), and that's why I love the school so much. (Former Mississippi State head football) Coach (Sylvester) Croom was a really great coach to me. He really taught us how to be men because he was a man of integrity. I always had my dad in my life but he was still like a father-figure. He was a guy who really loved us and cared about us. For him to give me that chance was really cool. But the thing is when I came here I still took it for granted because when we started doing up-downs I still didn't want to do it or buy into it. A lot of guys were mad at me for not wanting to do up-downs but I didn't care what anyone thought. I was selfish at that time. I wasn't going to do something due to someone doing wrong. I was on my way out the door here and about to get kicked off the team again but the Lord starting working in my heart. As a result of that, I started changing. I started doing up-downs because I started understanding the team concept. That was totally due to the Lord. I got Jim Davis here on campus to share the gospel with me. I can truly say that Jesus Christ is what changed my life. Everything got better for me. I started playing better. I started getting along better with the coaches.

"As a result of the Lord starting to work in my life, Josh ended up asking me, after I returned from Baltimore, if I would like to intern with the FCA. I jumped on the opportunity. So, I came on staff with the FCA working with just the football program."

Why do you think he chose you as the person to be the intern?
"I think because he really saw the Lord working in my life. He saw that it was sincere. He knew I was in the (MSU football) community and all the guys were my friends. So, he saw the impact I could have with them. My job would be sharing the Word with them on a daily basis and hanging out at practice and just be a positive influence, a good role model. I was passionate about God and passionate about sports, so FCA was the perfect fit for me."

What did you do with the FCA?
"I interned for a year but now I'm on staff full-time. I'm the area representative for the FCA. I have three different counties and have 15 schools, including Philadelphia, Louisville and Carthage. I also work with the (MSU) football team. Two days a week I travel to high school and three days a week I work with the football team on campus. I hang out with the guys on the football team to encourage them to do the right thing and share the scripture with them. And I also do the same thing at the high schools."

You are about to take the next step in your life, attending seminary college. Why have you decided to do that?
"I want to continue working with the FCA because I have in my heart to train athletes (about the Lord). So many times, people look at our athletic ability but I don't know if they realize there is a heart behind every jersey. Due to that, I have in my heart to be trained about the Lord and the bible. If I had a doctor operating on me I wouldn't want a doctor who didn't go to med school. So, I feel like the Lord is tugging at my heart to go to seminary school and study God's Word so I can be more equipped to teach athletes. I feel like this is God's purpose for me. My passion before was sports, but now my passion is God.

"I am going to (seminary college) at Fort Worth, Texas. I will be going to the Dallas Theological Seminary in Dallas, Texas. It's like the Harvard of seminaries. It's awesome. It was a blessing to get in. I had Bill Buckley (the current MSU FCA Director), Jim Davis and my paster Lee Brand give me recommendations. I also filled out the application.

"The committee at DTS goes through a process that takes weeks. They send a letter to let you know if you are accepted. I actually received an email from them that let me know I was accepted."

How long will it take you to get through seminary school?
"The program I am taking is a Masters in Christian Education. It's 65 hours and goes through all the books of the bible. Normally, it would take a couple of years but I will be doing it part-time since I will still be working with the FCA at the same time. I will be working with the Fort Worth ISD (independent school district) while attending seminary. I want to be able to walk through the Word and be able to apply it to my ministry."

What are some things you can do other than working with the FCA once you have completed your Masters in Christian Education?
"I could be a professor and teach bible classes at a bible school. I could work at a church. But my heart is to continue working with the FCA. Lord willing, I could even be a Campus Director. And if the Lord continues to call me to be in high school ministry, I'll do that. Whatever the Lord wills I'm willing to do. But getting that degree, no matter what I do, will allow me to be equipped to help train the athletes in the Word of God even more."

I know you receive a salary from the FCA but you and the FCA have to raise the funds to pay your salary and all the expenses required of you to do your job. What are some of the ways the FCA raises money?
"We get donations through golf tournaments but people can also donate money individually. And all donations to the FCA are tax deductible. I have a website that people can go to and donate through it. I have ministry updates on it so people can see exactly what is going on. I have an About Me page where people can learn more about me and how the Lord has been working in my life. I have an About FCA page where people can learn more about the FCA's goals and history.

"A lot of people have a heart for athletes and want them to do well. My heart is to help athletes deeper in their lives than just cheering them on. I want them to be better men in this world and cope with life. I want to be able to teach them that there are other things in the world other than football. I'm here to teach people to put their hope in God. I have a love for athletes and people in general and I want to share my love of Christ with people."

Although Cortez is paid a salary through the FCA, in addition to his regular duties with the FCA he also has to help raise the funds to pay that salary. If you would like to learn more about Cortez McCraney and his ministry or donate to the FCA as a way to help him as he continues to spread God's Word to athletes and people in general, please go to his website www.cortezmccraney.com.

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing swindoll@genespage.com.

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