Last month, June Jones surprised Kelan Lawson, an 11-year-old with cerebral palsy, by inviting him to help coach at SMU's next home game. Lawson, who lives in Frisco, says his dream job is to coach football at SMU.
Well, it's finally SMU's next home game and Lawson will get to stay at the team hotel Friday night and stand on the sidelines as the Mustangs take on UCF in a rematch of last year's C-USA Championship game.
Lawson is an inspiring kid. Though he has a physical disability, he does not believe he's limited in any way. He's spoken in front of a crowd of 5,000 people in Frisco and is spreading his message worldwide via YouTube.
"Never give up; always believe in yourself, even if no one does," Lawson told WFAA.com. "Go beyond the sky."
After Jones learned of Lawson's love of the Mustangs, he had no qualms about inviting him to help him coach against UCF.
See Kelan's story here
Wearing bulletproof silk
When Zach Line started having shoulder pains against Northwestern State a few weeks back, June Jones and the SMU doctors knew they had to do something to keep their star running back in the game.
The week before, Cowboys' quarterback Tony Romo had suffered two broken ribs and a punctured lung against the 49ers'. The SMU staff had heard Romo was going to be wearing a bulletproof-type protective vest in order to play against the Redskins the next week. So they sought out the company that vowed to protect Romo's ribs so Line could reap the same type of benefits.
The Memphis game was the first time Line wore Kevlar pads – a para-aramid fiber that comes in different forms that keep the user safe from injury.
"It's like bulletproof silk," Jones said.
Wearing the pads while paying with a separated shoulder, Line said after Memphis that he'd never felt better after a game.
Now 30-40 Mustangs are wearing the Kevlar pads.
"Zach couldn't believe the difference in the hits he took," Jones said. "So we got it and put it in a lot of our other guys. I'm sure we'll have it in all of our guys before the year is out.
"I could see it being part of every physical sport very soon," Jones said. "I think it'll be in helmets to limit concussions. It absorbs a lot of blow form that."
The material is lightweight and can be used on every body part.
Jones even said that the Rangers' Adrian Beltre probably could have worn it on his knee in Game 4 of the ALCS when he kept hitting himself during his at-bats.
"I think we're the first team to really adopt it," Jones said. "I can't believe any player wouldn't have it on. It's unbelievable."
Jones said he was convinced to use Kevlar when he saw the company's demonstration. He said they had a watermelon and smashed it with a bat. Then they put the Kevlar over another watermelon and hit it with the same bat and the fruit didn't break it.
"Now that gets your attention," Jones said.
Rising to the occasion
Junior wide receiver Darius Johnson knows how to rise to any occasion.
In the 40-33 upset win over TCU two weeks ago, Johnson had 12 catches for 152 yards including two acrobatic touchdown grabs. He knew he had to big the go-to guy for J.J. McDermott with Cole Beasley out with a knee injury, and he was.
But he's relished in this role before. Johnson was SMU's MVP in its loss to Army in last year's Armed Forces Bowl, and the TCU game was his third 100-yard game in a row.
"He's matured," June Jones said. "He's matured a lot since his freshman year."
Johnson didn't take football as seriously as he should have when he was an underclassman. He fell asleep in team meetings, didn't put in hard work and was almost ruled academically ineligible. But now he has a lot on his plate with football and he and his longtime girlfriend just had a baby this week.
His old habits are gone and he's one of the Mustang's leaders and most diligent workers.
"He's learned how to practice and how to play," Jones said. "When the game gets big, he gets bigger."
And that clearly applies on and off the field.
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