When Carl stopped laughing, he told Kierstan, "Don't worry about it. God will always take care of us."
Two Thursdays ago, Carl and Kierstan came home from the Switzer Center to find a FedEx envelope at their door. It was from the National Football Foundation, to which Carl—who has another year of eligibility remaining at Oklahoma—had applied for a postgraduate academic scholarship. More nervous than he expected to be, Carl unzipped the envelope.
"Congratulations," began the letter, which granted Carl $18,000 toward future tuition and named him a finalist for the Draddy Award, the "academic Heisman," given to college football's top scholar-athlete. The two brothers were jumping and screaming in their living room when Kierstan shouted, "You were right!"
"About what?" said Carl.
"God does provide for us."
That's when Carl made the decision that had been weighing on him for months: After this season, he'll give up the game he loves to concentrate on Kierstan and studying education in graduate school at OU. "Kierstan is watching and registering everything I do," says Carl. "He challenges me to do what's right."
Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops, a father of three, applauds Carl's choice, as does university president David Boren, who says, "I can think of no student-athlete who serves as a better role model for young people than Carl."
Soon, that post-hyphenate—"athlete"—will wither away forever. "Football isn't like tennis," says Carl. "When you take the helmet off, it's off for good. You can't strap on pads and knock someone over in the street. So that season of my life is about to end. And there will never be another one." On campus, he'll no longer know how it feels to be treated as the Man. But he'll be showing Kierstan what it means to be a man.
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