Random Thoughts - How serious is serious?

With charges filed against a Northwestern starter last weekend, Coach Roy digs back to remember another key player who wound up in trouble for many of the same things, but who got a third [or was it fourth] chance. That kid is in line to hear his name this weekend in the NFL draft after he really cleaned up his act.

The events of last weekend reminds me of another former Wildcat who is making positive headlines elsewhere after a very rough start in Evanston.
Southern Illinois tight end Braden Jones was originally recruited by NU's Randy Walker as a linebacker, but prior to coming to NU, he was seriously injured in a fight. His injuries suffered in that altercation forced him to redshirt.

The next year, he earned a starting job as a redshirt frosh linebacker and Walker was impressed enough by his 2 way ability to want to move him to tight end.

But he also had issues with anger and a weakness for alcohol. You want your linebackers to be physical and intense, but you want them to leave it on the field, certainly not on campus after drinking.

At NU, Braden didn't do it. He was on and off the team several times before Walker and NU said "enough."

Suffice to say that he paid a major personal price, working through a conviction for battery, several other infractions . He eventually went back home to deal with his problems after losing his finally football scholarship at NU for good.

Now Jones is a smart kid - and maybe that was part of his problem. After he got home, he spent time in alcohol and anger control programs, and it seems to have worked.

In the Chicago Tribune article this week he expressed appreciation to the late Randy Walker and to SIU coach Jerry Kill who allowed him to come play in Carbondale.

Jones rewarded that commitment by playing well at SIU, earning a 3.6 GPA and staying out of trouble. He's considered a long shot for the NFL draft, but scouts like his speed and technique so you may see this former Wildcat drafted as a TE this weekend. [Randy W was right]

I think what's important for every person who is in similar trouble,is the message that, like Braden Jones, you can learn from your experiences and turn even a DUI, or worse, into a positive experience.

But every person like Jones needs someone besides their parents telling them that they still believe in their abilities - someone like Randy Walker who brought Jones back after he ran afoul of NU's rules.

Whatever happens Saturday, its easy to picture Randy Walker smiling down as Branden Jones is drafted and earns back all the trust Walker put in him.

The charges against Trevor Rees could be serious, but you get the feeling that the whole story has not yet come out. Our system is built on the premise that you are presumed innocent until any charges are proved.

I think that just like Walker and Jones, Coach Pat Fitzgerald will find a way to resolve the issue with Rees. Remember all those who were calling for OC Garrick McGee's head over similar charges last January?

Remember, not every charge is upheld in court.

Maybe we should all just wait until this thing is resolved in court before we can cast any further judgment.
-- da Coach

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