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BamaHoHo
09-20-2014, 12:48 AM
'Cocaine saved my life'; and so begins South Alabama long snapper Austin Cole's inspiring story
By Tommy Hicks | thicks@al.com
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on September 19, 2014 at 7:34 AM, updated September 19, 2014 at 3:20 PM

MOBILE, Alabama - "Cocaine saved my life,'' South Alabama senior long snapper Austin Cole said.

The pronouncement was in the midst of a casual conversation, delivered in a matter-of-fact manner, not one aimed at gaining attention.

Asked to elaborate, the Dallas, Ga., native told his story, which starts before his birth -- an unwanted pregnancy to a woman struggling with a drug addiction - Cole's mother. She was given money for an abortion, but used the money for another purpose.. It continues with another story, the one his father, John Cole, told Austin when he was a teenager. "When I was 13 years old he told me the story of how my life played out,'' Cole said.

"My mom was into drugs and I was an accident, in a sense; I was going to get aborted but she used that (abortion) money for cocaine, and thus I was born,'' Cole explained. Cole's father and mother divorced just a couple of months after his birth on Jan. 29, 1992, and he was raised by his father. When Cole was 11, his father remarried, and he and his step-mother, Laura, have raised him since that time.

"My dad did a phenomenal job raising me,'' Cole said. "Under the circumstances that I was raised and where I'm at now, I look at that and embrace that. I like telling people that story to let them know it doesn't matter what you go through, that you can do whatever you want. It hasn't affected me much. I'm still a man. I've come through it. It's not something I worry about. It's the cards I was dealt and I'm trying to use those cards to the best of my ability. God has blessed me to be where I am today.''

Cole said his father's story was "very emotional and really touching'' and he appreciates the fact his father felt he could share the story with him.

"My dad looked at me like a man from a young age,'' Cole said. "He raised me and I was doing things at a young age that a lot of boys my age weren't doing. He trusted me at that age to be able to take it as a man. I love him. And my step-mom, Laura, too.''

Cole, who has had no contact with his birth mother since his parents divorced, said when growing up he leaned more toward the positives of his life than with the negative aspects, and he chose to use what he gained from the trust and love shown by his family and those around him than in any what-might-have-been possibilities.

"It taught me I didn't have to rely on anybody,'' Cole said. "A lot of guys growing up, they rely on their moms. I didn't have that. I grew up with my dad and my uncle Jimmy. It shaped me a lot and I learned a lot of things on my own. In some points I'm (more mature than others his age). It's just not something a lot of people go through.''

Today, while he doesn't stand on a soap box and tell his story - "I didn't tell many people (growing up) because it's not something you just go up and tell,'' Cole said - he is happy to share the story when he believes its message can help others. A few of his teammates are aware and a few friends on campus, yet it is not a story known by the majority of his teammates or those on the coaching staff.

South Alabama head coach Joey Jones said Cole's maturity is easily recognizable

"You can see a look in his eyes that has more depth to it than is true in some other people,'' Jones said. "Knowing what he's gone through I think has a lot to do with that. He's responded in a great way, a great positive for him.''

Football played a role in that development, Cole said. He started playing as soon as he was eligible to take part in rec-league football, then advanced to middle school and high school teams. He played a variety of positions, including tight end and tackle. He said he enjoyed the game from the first time he stepped on the field.

It wasn't until he was a freshman at South Paulding High School that he found his place in the game, the position that would hold his attention and interest. Isaac Ferrell, then the line coach for the freshman team, needed a long snapper. Cole decided to give it a try.

"He taught me how to hold the ball and I started out snapping it 10 yards,'' Cole said. "I was just as bad as anybody snapping the ball. But he told me I could go to college snapping a ball, so I took that and ran with it. Me and dad, we started working my tail off, going to camps in Las Vegas and Los Angeles and elsewhere.

"It's something that fell in my hands. I have to credit coach Ferrell. He's the one who planted the seed in my head. And my dad. He put in a lot of work with me and spent a lot of money sending me to camps. I played other positions ... but long snapper is what I put most of my work into and what I dedicated myself to.''

He has been the Jags' long snapper for the past three years and has handled the position well, Jones said. Cole's consistency and work ethic has led to his successful career at South Alabama, Jones added.

"He hasn't had a bad snap since he's been here,'' Jones said. "He's one of those guys who you can tell is in tune with what he's doing. He truly comes in and tries to get better every day. When you have a young man doing that you know you're going to have something good. He has an inner drive in him.''

Cole, a 6-foot-4, 205-pounder, knows long snapper isn't a glamour position, nor one to which many fans give much thought. That's fine with him.

"I get a lot of flack from other players when I'm on a knee while they are doing other stuff (during practice), if I'm not doing as much as them,'' he said. "But I tell them, you had a choice. You could have become a long snapper, but you chose to become a receiver.''

Because he can joke about it, doesn't mean he takes his position less seriously than a quarterback or safety or any other player, he said. In truth, he takes his task very seriously. Cole has a story for all that too.

"It has its fun moments,'' he said. "After the snap and after the block, when I run down the field to make a tackle, I love that. And I like high-pressure situations - when it's fourth (down) and you're backed up in the end zone and the ball is on the 2 and I've got to snap the ball to the punter in a situation where it could get blocked or I might snap it over his head. It's very stressful.

"I tell (other players) they can mess up - the quarterback can make a bad throw or a lineman can have a missed block - but if I make a bad snap, that's my job, maybe my scholarship, probably the game. I don't get opportunities to mess up. That's what changes my mentality going into practices and games. I prepare for all of that.''

Just Some Hog Dude
09-20-2014, 03:04 AM
Heck, it probably cures ADHD too. Hip hip hooray for cocaine!

BamaHoHo
09-20-2014, 03:15 AM
Heck, it probably cures ADHD too. Hip hip hooray for cocaine!

Did you read the story?

Just Some Hog Dude
09-20-2014, 10:02 AM
Did you read the story?

lol nope

BamaHoHo
09-20-2014, 01:25 PM
lol nope

Well, that explains your reply!


Asked to elaborate, the Dallas, Ga., native told his story, which starts before his birth -- an unwanted pregnancy to a woman struggling with a drug addiction - Cole's mother. She was given money for an abortion, but used the money for another purpose.. It continues with another story, the one his father, John Cole, told Austin when he was a teenager. "When I was 13 years old he told me the story of how my life played out,'' Cole said.

Just Some Hog Dude
09-20-2014, 02:14 PM
I hope he is making the most of it.

BamaHoHo
09-20-2014, 07:19 PM
I hope he is making the most of it.

Seems to be doing so.