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Bulldogs’ Hebron learns from his mistakes

Bulldogs’ Hebron learns from his mistakes

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 01/21/08
Athens — Akeem Hebron is sorry.

He is sorry for the trouble he caused himself. He is sorry for the embarrassment he caused his family. And he is sorry for the distraction he became for the Georgia football team.

Now, eight months after leaving Georgia following a dismissal from school for two alcohol-related offenses in one semester, Hebron is back, re-enrolling two weeks ago. His redshirt and freshman years gone, he’s ready to make up for lost time.

The former U.S. Army All-American linebacker from Wheaton, Md., spent the fall semester at Georgia Military College. There he thrived in the structure of a day that went from 5:30 a.m. to lights out at 11 p.m. He did just as well on the field.

“I would be real surprised if he slipped up,” said GMC coach Bert Williams. “He did such a great job here the time he was here. He was straight in line with everything we were doing. It is a different situation [in Athens]. There are a lot more things that can nip at you if you don’t attend to it, a lot of more things that can get you into jams. But Akeem is a mature young man.”

It wasn’t always that way. Hebron sat down to talk to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution about what he learned about himself and how he learned from his mistakes.

Q: What is it like to finally

be back?

A: It feels real good to be back with all my brothers working out again and competing with them. I am just happy to be back with them.

Q: How much was coming back here a goal when you left for GMC?

A: That was probably the goal I set out for myself. It was something I knew I had to accomplish. There was nothing really I wanted to accomplish more than to get back here.

Q: You could have gone anywhere else, right? You didn’t have to come back to Georgia. Did you go through the recruiting process again?

A: When coaches called [the coaches at GMC], they already knew I was coming back here so they would tell coaches. I didn’t have to talk to them at all.

Q: Was the structure of GMC needed at that time in your life?

A: I definitely think I could use that in my life. Anything that doesn’t kill me makes me stronger. Now, coming back here, I am ready for anything that comes at me.

Q: Do you worry at all coming back here because this is the environment where you got in trouble?

A: I know how easy it is to fall off and get in trouble around here. Now I have just got to watch myself and do the right thing.

Q: When the second arrest happened and you knew you would have to leave, how sorry were you for the actions, and how much beating up of yourself took place?

A: At first I was really beating up myself. I let my teammates down. I let my coaches down. And most of all I feel like I let my family down. So then I knew Coach [Mark] Richt gave me another chance to come back. Then I knew once he gave me that other chance to come back that I could pick it up and not let it happen again.

Q: Now that you are back, are the coaches warning you and watching you?”

A: They pretty much know the environment around here and tell me you have got to make the right decisions and right choices. You are on stage and you are under the spotlight. I know what to expect now and how easy it is to make mistakes.

Q: Do you feel like now you finally get a chance to prove yourself?

A: Now I really feel like I have a chance to prove what I came here to do. I am really going to try and show myself to the coaches and the fans in the spring. Then in the fall I just want to try and get on the field as much as I can.

Q: But you understand that people will question you and will wonder?

A: Oh yeah. I am pretty sure people are still wondering how I will do. Hopefully when it is time for me to get out there I can show them what I can do.

Q: Do you think that you have a problem with alcohol?

A: I guess it was just being a freshman in this environment. It is a different lifestyle. Not the right lifestyle that a football player should get into.

Q: How much responsibility is on you now to talk to the younger guys?

A: When we came in we had some older guys talk to us about how they got in trouble and how that set them back. I feel like I could talk to them. I could have a big part by telling them what happened to me, what I have been through just to start off fresh all over again.”

Q: Have you forgiven yourself for all this?

A: Yes, I have forgiven myself only because I did make it though GMC and was able to make it back. I put in my work to be able to forgive myself.