JOHNSON CITY, TN (WJHL) – Junior defensive lineman Chris Bouyer has made his presence known on the defensive line in his three years at East Tennessee State University, but his impact on and off the filed has risen him to the role of defensive captain in 2017.
“I had one of our defensive lineman when we were recruiting him last year that we gave Chris to be his host and at the end of the weekend that young lineman said, ‘I want to be just like Chris Bouyer’ and that’s what you look for,” Billy Taylor, ETSU Defensive Coordinator said.
“I just try to guide them in the right direction and just get them out of the household of high school and transition them to college,” Bouyer said.
But Bouyer’s transition to college was not easy, losing one of the most important people in life — his mother, Gwen — just two months before he came to ETSU.
“It’s kind of hard when you have that one person that you want to talk to at the end of the day,” Bouyer said. “You know, you struggling and transitioning from high school to college, and you just want to talk to somebody to be like, ‘You know what I did today in class? You know what I did in football?’ It hurts that she’s not there.”
Bouyer leaned on his girlfriend, Mercedes, and his family in those first few years.
Football was his other escape, using that pain on the field to make his biggest fan proud.
“My mom was always in my corner, but now that she’s gone I just keep pushing and keep striving for greatness and just want to appreciate her for giving me that motor,” he said.
The 22nd of August would have been her 51st birthday, making this month one of the toughest of the year. But Bouyer knows others are counting on him to be strong.
“It’s been hard, woke up and told her happy birthday,” Bouyer said. “She always been there for me, but, like I said, you’ve got to keep going and I know I just have to be a man and be there for my sister and make her proud.”
The 3.6 GPA student was chosen by the Bucs for his academic success and play on the field to be one of the two players representing the Bucs at the Southern Conference Media Day, making the woman smiling down from above extra proud of the man he has become.
“Soon as it ended, I was just thinking about my mom and just being like, ‘Man, you know Mom, I made it and now I’m the lead face of my football team on the defensive side and I just wish you were here. But I’m doing it for you, and I’m doing it for my sister and I’m doing it for my team and my supporters,” Bouyer said.
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