HOLLY POND —
It all began with a simple phone call.
Just two weeks ago, Dylan Surrett was all but ready to accept the fact his playing days on the gridiron were over.
Despite receiving some lukewarm interest back in the fall from schools like Faulkner and Shorter, Surrett was left on the outside looking in when it came to his football career — and more importantly, his education.
Then, his phone rang.
On the other end of the line was Chris Douglas, the head coach at Division III MacMurray College (Ill.), who finally had some good news for the former Holly Pond football standout.
“He told me he had seen my game film and was really interested in me,” Surrett said. “He wanted to give me a shot at playing football for him.”
It seemed, at least on the outside, that things might be looking up for Surrett. However, he was worried about what most kids and their families fret about when college comes into the picture — money.
“I told him I’d like to but financially, I wasn’t able,” Surrett said. “He told me, ‘Don’t worry about it, we’ll take care of it.’”
After some understandable back-and-forth, Surrett was eventually able to iron out the details and make his dream of playing football and attending college come true.
The Bronco graduate inked a scholarship with MacMurray College on Tuesday afternoon in the Holly Pond school library, surrounded by family, friends and a few former coaches.
Surrett joins former teammate Ben Wilson — a Missouri Valley signee — as the two Broncos from this senior class who will go on to play football in college.
“It means the world to me,” Surrett said. “Especially being from Holly Pond, where not a lot of people get to go play past high school. To go from that low of thinking my career was over to the high of today is something I’ll never forget for the rest of my life.”
Surrett was a two-way player for the Green and White most of his career, serving as the team’s fullback on offense, while playing a little bit of defensive end and linebacker on defense.
After the coaches at MacMurray reviewed his film, they came to the conclusion Surrett would be best suited for the team on the defensive side of the ball, a decision he and former Bronco head coach Nate Ayers couldn’t have been happier about.
“Defensively, he was our quarterback,” Ayers said of his former player. “He runs well enough to play linebacker, but he’s also big enough to play up front. I coached him for four years, and he’s a player who when he sees something, gets it. It’s a great kid getting a great opportunity.”
Surrett’s signing on Tuesday marks the end of one road — and the beginning of another — for a young man whose journey has been anything but a scene out of a storybook.
For the past five years, Surrett hasn’t grown up with his parents, who haven’t been in the picture for quite some time, but rather with his girlfriend, Sami Hinds, and her mother, Karen.
“It all got started in eighth grade,” Surrett said. “Sami and her mom took me in and helped me get through anything from work, school or my home life. They helped pay for so much. To me, that means everything, more than going to play football ever could.”
Despite a difficult upbringing, Surrett has forged ahead through unfortunate circumstances no teenager’s shoulders should have to bear before the age of 18.
Still, he’s determined not to waste this opportunity bestowed upon him by coach Douglas and the Highlanders.
“This not only wants to make me play for Holly Pond, but also for Sami and her mom,” Surrett said. “Being with them helped me get through so much. If I could tell any of next year’s seniors one thing, it would be to give everything you can because it can all go away in a heartbeat.”
% Jake Winfrey can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 136 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.