A storybook ending
Tori Childers graduated from Rock Hill High School in the spring of 2006, but did not qualify academically and took a roundabout route through New Hampton Prep School to get to where he's at today. After graduating from prep school in the spring, Childers had one more road block to overcome this summer, as his SAT score was flagged and he was asked to take the test again. After countless hours of studying and an extended wait for the results of that test, Childers finally received the news he had been waiting for Wednesday around 2 p.m.
"I passed the test! I'm headed to Columbia, and we're gonna do big things at South Carolina," said an enthusiastic Childers. "'Excited' isn't even the word to describe how I feel right now. I'm humbled, but at the same time I'm so proud of myself. It's just been a lot. I've been going through so much my whole life, and it came down to one test to make or break my college career. I'm so excited. I've been running through the neighborhood screaming and hollering. When I think about it, I just get amped up - being on ESPN on the 28th against NC State at Williams-Brice Stadium with 90,000 fans screaming, and I'm gonna be a part of that. It's just a blessing, and I love it. I can't wait."
Childers had already prepared for the worst just in case he did not make the necessary grade, as he had his bags packed and ready to go to Georgia Military College pending the results of his test.
"I want to thank Coach Bert Williams at Georgia Military because that's where I was packed up and ready to go to. I had my car packed up looking for military stuff so I could go to Georgia Military. But after the SAT called and told me I passed, it's just a blessing I cant even describe," he said.
According to Childers, his family played a key role in keeping him focused and motivated during the trials he endured, and he believes that he's now a stronger individual for having overcome those obstacles.
"I want to thank my family. I want to thank my fiancé and her side of the family. I want to thank my mom, my brother, my grandfather, and just everyone that's been keeping me strong. They're my foundation, and I love them so much. Passing the test isn't just for me, it's for all of us. I'm so excited. It's like a storybook ending," he said sincerely. "I've matured so much through all this. I think I've matured because I'm patient now. I'm more understanding, and I truly know who's in my corner. The coaches have been there for me, encouraging me. But my family - my fiancé, my mom, my grandmother, and my mother in-law - those are the people that were truly there for me and helped me study for this test to get where I need to be. It's just so great to have made this. It's a dream come true.
"I read up on Jarriel King and other guys that went through stuff to get to here, but now I can actually say that I have a story about me getting to the University of South Carolina. I've overcome a lot to get here, but hard work and faith in God pays off. I'm just so thankful right now."
Childers made it to Columbia to observe the Gamecocks' practice on Wednesday night, and he's expected to officially enroll at USC on Thursday once his paperwork is processed by the USC admissions department. The football team won't practice on Thursday because of the start of fall classes, but Childers will go through his first workout with the team on Friday.
Although he knows he's behind the learning curve after missing most of fall camp, Childers is willing to do anything he can to contribute to the team this year.
"I know the guys are probably tired of beating up on each other by now, but I think I can bring some enthusiasm to practice and just do whatever it takes to make the team better. I also know I can perform under clutch situations. It can't get any more clutch than that - passing the SAT to get into school, while having everyone calling your phone and wondering why I'm not on TV and why I'm not at practice. That's clutch. That's what the coaches want. They want a great kid, as well as someone that's going to perform well under pressure. I believe that's me," said Childers. "I truly believe I can come in and play. It may sound far fetched after the practices I've missed, but I believe that I'm blessed and that I have what it takes to make an impact."
Childers is a natural wide receiver, but head coach Steve Spurrier said following Wednesday night's practice that the versatile athlete will begin his South Carolina career at safety.
The 6'5", 220 pound Childers, who runs a 4.5 second forty yard dash, closed by passing on an enthusiastic message to the Gamecock Nation following the news of his qualifying score.
"Tell them I'm ready to roll and I'll see them soon. I just want to thank them and tell them that I'm gonna work hard to do everything I can do to make South Carolina football an SEC contender."
Despite his long journey to South Carolina, Childers still has a full five years to play four eligibility clock.
Last fall, Childers totaled 40 catches for 700 yards and 12 touchdowns for New Hampton on the football field. Also a standout basketball player, he averaged 10 points and 8 rebounds in the prep school ranks.
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