Former CEU Eagle playing in the NFL

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For 24-year-old Scottie Vines, life has never come easy. Vines was born in Alexander City, Alabama, the same hometown of San Francisco 49ers star Terrell Owens. There, his parents Lucious and Jeannie Vines raised Scottie. Vines grew up in what he calls a traditional Southern home. He and his family spent an abundance of time in church, due in large part to his mother's deep-rooted religious values. However, for Vines, adopting his family's values was, for a long time a daunting task.

Vines admits to having been a self-proclaimed problem child. He failed to excel as a student throughout much of his adolescent academic career. The only thing that intrigued Vines was sports. He began his athletic career by playing basketball. Once in high school, he became a standout player and received recognition for his athletic ability. For once, Vines began to have a sense of direction for his life. He wanted to use basketball as a means to further his education and provide himself an opportunity for a professional career. In tenth grade, Vines joined his high school football team, and there too he was a standout player. He was also the Alabama State champion in the high jump, clearing an astounding seven feet. As his senior year of high school rolled around, Vines' hard work on the court and field was paying off. He was receiving scholarship opportunities from Division I schools in both basketball and football.

However, Vines would soon find out that he had failed himself. While his athletic performances were that of legends, his academic performance was dismal. Vines was unable to accept any scholarship offers because he was a few credits short of qualifying to participate in NCAA Division I athletics. He was reduced to having to go the junior college route instead. He commented, "Initially, finding out I couldn't go Division I was tough. I remember at the time some of my teachers told me I would never amount to anything because I refused to apply myself in school. But instead of allowing that negativity to [prohibit] me from succeeding, I used it as motivation to prove my doubters wrong."

Vines' decision, as to what two-year college to attend, was rather easy. " I chose CEU because I really enjoyed my conversations with coach [Bryan Zollinger.] Also, my cousin Johnny Blackman was an assistant [at CEU] at the time."

Upon, arriving in Price in the fall of 1998, Vines immediately began to make the most of his opportunity. He stated, " I felt right at home at CEU. The people were very receptive of me and the transition to college was surprisingly easy." CEU men's head basketball Coach Zollinger quickly found himself fond of his new player. Says Zollinger, "Scottie was very easy to coach. He arrived here extremely motivated and determined to succeed." Vines' heightened maturity had also allowed him to find success in the classroom. Finally, he felt like he belonged in the classroom setting. He stated, " It was just a matter of me deciding that I was going to care enough to make myself a success. Thanks to Coach Z, I was finally being held accountable for what I did or didn't do. Those circumstances along with having learned from my past mistakes [enabled] me to begin to make the most of my potential."

As the star player for a successful junior college basketball program, Scottie now had the credentials to move on to the Division I level. The list of schools who wanted his services included the College of Charleston, Texas A&M, Idaho State, Kansas State, and Weber State. Also Washington State and the University of Utah showed interest in Scottie resuming his football career at their respective institutions, although he hadn't played in two years. However, when decision time came it was the University of Wyoming and their head coach Steve McClain that Vines chose as the place he wanted to continue his education.

However, Scottie's expectations for himself were not met at Wyoming. He

see Scottie Vines on page 7

spent the majority of his first year there on the basketball team's bench. Disappointed and frustrated, Vines' salvation would come from the University of Wyoming's head football coach Vic Koening. Koening approached Scottie's basketball coach Steve McClain and asked if Scottie would be interested in playing football. Dissatisfied with his basketball career, Vines jumped at the opportunity to join the football team.

As the 2001 college football season began Scottie Vines was a reserve wide receiver for the University of Wyoming Cowboys. However, through hard work and perseverance, by the end of the season Vines had made his way into the starting lineup and was slowly making a name for him.

After the football season was over Vines decided not to return to the Wyoming basketball team despite being offered a spot by Steve McClain. Vines commented, "I was just much more satisfied playing football instead of basketball."

Vines was granted a fifth year of college eligibility because he had only participated in one year of football after graduating from junior college. In his final year, Vines set a number of single season and single game records for the University of Wyoming's football program. Bryan Zollinger commented on a game he had witnessed Vines play, " I remember one game against BYU Scottie caught a pass late in the game and broke seventy or eighty yards down the field. He's just a dynamic athlete."

Vines was named Wyoming's most outstanding player and was recognized as an honorable mention all Mountain West Conference performer.

After wrapping up an outstanding collegiate career, Vines turned his attention to what appeared to be a promising pro career. He signed with sports agent Brett Tessler. Throughout the spring of 2003, Vines worked out for several NFL teams. He impressed scouts with his work ethic and athleticism, including an impressive time of 4.43 seconds in the forty-yard dash. On the April 26 NFL draft Vines was not surprised when he went undrafted. Moments after the seven round draft selection process was completed, Vines' cell phone began to ring constantly. Several teams were eager to sign Scottie to a free agent contract. After consulting with his agent, Scottie decided to sign with the Detroit Lions.

He began practice with the Lions at the team's training camp. The camps consisted of long days of nothing but football. Vines stated, "During training camp my day would start at about 6:30 a.m. Throughout the day we would have meetings, practice, or something football related. The playbook was about eight inches thick, and we had to know the assignments for all eleven players on each play, so I would usually stay up until about 3 a.m. studying."

Vines played in the first four Lions' preseason games before being released just prior to the preseason finale. Up until being released he had been the Lions' leader in receiving during the preseason. The Green Bay Packers then immediately signed him. He spent this NFL season on the Packers' practice squad. He had hoped to be upgraded to the active roster toward the latter part of the season, but a knee injury, which required surgery, prevented it.

However, Vines was so impressive throughout the year that he recently signed a three-year contract offer from the Packers. For Vines, it's a dream come true. He stated, "I've worked so hard to reach this point in my life. The NFL is a cutthroat business. For example, our defensive coordinator was fired immediately following our playoff loss to the Philadelphia Eagles because our defense gave up one big play on fourth down. But I know I belong here and I plan to have longevity in the league."

Vines expects to be on the Packers' active roster for 2004. He added, "I'm just going to work hard and prepare myself for this upcoming season. I can't wait to put on that uniform and run out of the tunnel at Lambeau Field with Brett Favre and the rest of my teammates."

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