I played a small role in helping Frank Ros become an all-world linebacker in the 1980s for the University of Georgia (UGA). I’ll explain.
When I played UGA football, Jim Pyburn was the position coach. He was a longtime assistant coach who didn’t like anybody or anything. Coach Pyburn was a tough, hard-nosed leader who pushed us to the limit physically and mentally.
Frank was always the guy to be first in line, first in sprints, first in anything. He set the example for everyone on the field to follow. Frank gave 110% in whatever he was asked to do.
I was a walk-on in 1977 — 5’11”, 185 lbs. and, with a 40-yard sprint of about 10 seconds, I was like Forrest Gump. Coach Pyburn would tell me to run over Frank. I was the best live-tackling dummy because I was driven to keep going.
For some reason, Coach Pyburn had Frank and I go against each other frequently in tackling drills. Coach Pyburn loved these drills. When Frank would practically take me apart, Coach Pyburn told Frank that was not the best he could do. It seemed that Frank was 6’6” and 300 lbs. when he knocked me into next week. I felt like the comic strip character, Beetle Bailey, after each drill. The image of a guy all mashed up into a big pile of body pieces comes to mind.
Frank and I were both in the UGA College of Education. No matter when or where I saw him on campus, he would say, “Man, I am sorry I have to kill you out there at practice.” Frank is one of the most humble guys you will ever meet.
Our training under Coach Pyburn helped set Frank and me on the paths we would follow in life. Frank went on to become a coach and then a sales and marketing executive at Coca-Cola. At age 62, I ask myself if I’d chase the dream of playing college football again. My answer is yes, a thousand times over.
It’s how I gained the mental toughness to pursue a degree that demanded a lot of daily scheduling. It also opened many doors for my coaching career as a freshman coach with Doc Ayers at UGA, Bobby Gruhn at Gainesville High School, Jerry Raines at Norcross HS and Erk Russell at Georgia Southern College (now Georgia Southern University). At Georgia Southern, we were I-AA College Football National Champions in 1985 and 1986.
And here’s what I learned:
- Nothing in life that has value will be given to you without your paying a price. My own body exploded to 6’0”and 230 lbs. through a disciplined strength-and-conditioning program at UGA.
- You are going to get knocked down and beat up every day in real life. You can make excuses, quit or learn to survive.
- You understand the rewards of what true teamwork can accomplish with people who are on the same page as you are.
- Respect is earned. When you have it, people will listen and stick with you through the toughest times.
By pursuing my football dream at UGA, my coaching career, and my marriage, I was also blessed with the most important experience of my life: becoming a father to our two beautiful daughters, Abbie and Anna.
Follow your dreams, and let them help shape you into the person you want to be. Along the way, you’ll probably meet — and have an impact on — others who are doing the same.
The Abbie DeLoach Foundation recently reached out to Frank Ros. Here’s what he had to say about Jimmy.
What I remember about Jimmy was he wore a thick horseshoe neck collar on his shoulder pads and he always gave his all. His toughness made up for his lack of size at the time. It was guys like him on the scout team who made the starters better players.