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Demetris Summer Article

Discussion in 'Buckeye Football' started by osugrad21, Mar 9, 2005.

  1. osugrad21

    osugrad21 Capo Regime Staff Member

    This is a great read that explains what many of these kids go through before they are thrust into the national excuse, but it is easy to see why some go astray.

    Running off course

    Demetris Summers, once the toast of the state, faces an uncertain football future and a debate about his past


    Staff Writer

    Walking across the USC campus this week, shortly after being kicked off the Gamecocks’ football team for a failed drug test, Demetris Summers considered his situation and said to a friend, “I’m just a student now.”

    For the past seven years, since the first time he gave a hip shake and left some middle-school linebacker grasping at air, Summers never has been “just a student.” He has been defined first and foremost by his ability to run with a football.

    With that designation came perks and privileges not afforded Summers’ classmates at Lexington High School — rides to school in the morning, extra help with his homework in the afternoon, rides home from practice in the evening.

    Summers also received special attention at USC. Chad Staggs, a Lexington assistant coach, accompanied Summers to USC as a dormitory counselor, a job that required him to live in Summers’ dorm and keep tabs on him. Players complained of the preferential treatment former USC coach Lou Holtz showed Summers, beginning with the first carry of the 2003 season, which Holtz gave to Summers to fulfill a recruiting promise.

    But after a second positive test for marijuana ended Summers’ USC career after two seasons, critics have wondered whether all the extra help created a coddled athlete who never was held accountable for his actions.

    Former Lexington High coach Jimmy Satterfield believes without his assistance Summers would never have made it off “The Hill,” the low-income neighborhood in Lexington where Summers grew up in a tough home environment.

    “If we hadn’t helped him, he may have gotten some accountability, but he would have been accounting over there on George Street. He wouldn’t have been at South Carolina,” Satterfield said. “He never would have gotten there if we hadn’t taken some time.”

    Dismissed from USC’s team and publicly humiliated in his hometown, Summers has a chance to start anew. If he can remain academically eligible through the end of the semester, he will be able to transfer to one of the many schools that have inquired about him.

    After years of receiving extra help, Summers now must help himself.


    Satterfield’s first memory of Summers is from Summers’ eighth-grade year, when he returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown in a middle-school game.

    In Summers, Satterfield saw a rare talent that comes along once or twice in a coach’s lifetime. Satterfield had coached a similar back at Eau Claire in the 1970s, Sammy Green, who played at Texas Tech and Western Carolina and died at 37 in 1989 when he was shot by a Columbia woman.

    But Satterfield saw something else in Summers: a kid struggling in school who needed a strong male presence in his life. With his father in prison and his mother, Jackie Ludley, living in the White Knoll school district, Summers lived in a doublewide trailer on George Street with his grandmother Marelda Summers and a number of cousins.

    “Mom was an awful good person, but she didn’t live with him all the time. Grandma was a really good person, but she worked nights (at Honeywell),” said Todd Fitch, the former Gamecocks assistant who recruited Summers.

    “(Marelda Summers) was the one person who could have said, ‘Meat’ (short for Demetris), you should do this or do that.’ But she was so busy supporting the family she couldn’t be there every night to see that work was getting done. Other people had to do that for him. That’s why Jimmy got involved.”

    When Satterfield first met Summers, he was struggling in school and getting into trouble.

    “My teachers saw me as a troublemaker and bad student,” Summers told The State in a 2002 interview. “It was tough. I had a bad time.”

    Enter Satterfield, a 60-year-old white coach who forged an unlikely friendship with a black teenager.

    At the time, Lexington’s ninth-grade students attended the middle school. But Satterfield arranged for Summers and a few other athletes to take half of their classes, including weightlifting, at the high school.

    “We thought it would be better to get him in the high school,” Satterfield said, “where we could work with him and get him to focus.”

    Neighbors would notice Satterfield pull up on George Street in his SUV many mornings to roust Summers from bed. Satterfield had an addition built on his home so Summers could live with him, an arrangement that lasted two weeks before Summers returned to his grandmother’s.

    More than anything, Satterfield and his staff tutored Summers, an indifferent student, to try to keep on track to graduate.

    “He wasn’t the best student in the world. He didn’t work real hard in class. But he didn’t cause problems,” said Bart Miller, a Satterfield assistant who is now the Wildcats’ head coach. “I think coach Satterfield wanted him to do well and make it somewhere. We all did.”

    “We did a lot for him. We didn’t give it to him,” said Satterfield, retired and living in Easley. “We helped him get to school. We had kids pick him up. I picked him up. We did a lot of things that parents do for kids.”

    While Summers was becoming the state’s all-time leader in rushing yards (9,076 yards) and touchdowns (127), he was having difficulty in the classroom, particularly with English.

    Summers was tested for a learning disability in the second semester of his senior year, a process that should have been done in the ninth grade, Satterfield said.

    Satterfield said Summers was diagnosed with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

    Students diagnosed with ADHD are allowed certain accommodations, such as the ability to take standardized tests untimed. But Satterfield said Summers never received any such accommodations in high school.

    Under the NCAA’s sliding-scale admissions criteria, which took effect during Summers’ senior year of high school, he needed two B’s and an A in three core classes during his final semester at Lexington in order to be eligible to play at USC as a freshman.

    Summers made the necessary grades, but Miller rejected the suggestion that Summers was given a free pass his final high school semester.

    “There were some classes that he got Ds and Fs while he was here, so it wasn’t like teachers were giving him (high grades),” Miller said.


    Summers was disciplined at least twice while in high school, getting suspended from the basketball team for two weeks and sitting out a football game for getting into a fight with a student during his senior year.

    Despite breaking Emmitt Smith’s national record with 46 100-yard rushing games, Summers was left off the Shrine Bowl roster.

    “I think maybe the impression around the state is that he’s just a thug. When he was a senior, he didn’t make the Shrine Bowl, and I think some of that had to do with his perception,” Miller said. “And in my opinion, he’s not. He’s great with kids. He’s good to be around. He’s a likable kid. He’s made some poor decisions.”

    Satterfield believes Demetris’ brother Jacques Summers and some high school friends were bad influences. Satterfield thinks Summers might have been better served going away for school. But in a videotaped announcement on a cable-access station in February 2003, Summers picked USC over Clemson.

    “The same people you would have been worried about him socializing with would have followed him (to Clemson),” said Fitch, now an Iowa State assistant. “They all got cars. They all get around. ... He was going to have to say no and walk away and remove himself from situations like that.”

    USC tried to create a structured environment for Summers so that he would not repeat the mistakes of former tailback Derek Watson, whose state records Summers broke. Watson, the Williamston native who was the first blue-chip recruit to sign with Holtz in 1999, had a series of off-the-field problems before getting dismissed for a marijuana arrest after his junior year.

    In addition to Staggs’ presence in the dorm, former Lexington teammate Kris Clark roomed with Summers the past two years. But Clark, a junior receiver, said he seldom socialized with Summers’ group of friends.

    “I’m not a night person,” he said, “and that’s when they do all their hanging out.”

    School officials tried to shelter the reserved Summers from the media. He generally was available for interviews one day a week during the season and seldom did one-on-one interviews.

    “Unfortunately, there are very few high-profile All-American kids today that aren’t coddled too much,” Fitch said. “That’s not just Demetris.”

    Summers struggled with injuries throughout his USC career. The Parade All-American looked to be on the verge of greatness with back-to-back 150-yard rushing games against Alabama-Birmingham and Tennessee during his freshman season. But he pulled his groin near the end of the Tennessee game and was gimpy the rest of the season.

    Slowed by an ankle injury for much of the 2004 season, Summers led the Gamecocks in rushing with 487 yards. Before his sophomore season, Summers said he hoped to run for 1,000 yards. He barely reached that total in two seasons, finishing with 1,125 career yards.


    Clark was walking with Summers on campus when he commented about being “just a student.” Summers also told his old Lexington teammate that he learned a tough lesson.

    “That’s what he told me,” Clark said, “not to take things for granted because it can be taken away so quickly.”

    Marelda Summers said her grandson plans to continue taking classes at USC. Other than that, Summers’ family is saying little. Ludley refused to comment Friday, and attempts to reach Summers have been unsuccessful.

    Satterfield said he knew of at least eight schools that have asked about Summers, including East Carolina, where former Gamecocks assistant Skip Holtz is the head coach, and Division I-AA programs Appalachian State, Georgia Southern, S.C. State and Coastal Carolina.

    Satterfield thinks Summers should go to a I-AA school where he could play immediately, without sitting out a year as he would be required to do were he to a transfer to a I-A school.

    “He’s not the kind of guy that can sit out a year and make it,” he said.

    Satterfield is hopeful Summers will have a soft landing. Watching a TV news broadcast about Martha Stewart’s release from prison last week, Satterfield was reminded of this country’s affinity for comeback stories.

    “When (Stewart) goes in there, the company’s going to go broke and she’s not going to make it. Heck, she comes out better,” Satterfield said. “She’s lost weight. She looks better. Their company stock’s gone up. It was amazing. America wants people to have a second chance.”

    Reach Person at (803) 771-8496 or
  2. Steve19

    Steve19 Watching. Always watching. Staff Member

    I think that this really illustrates the source of this "the world owes me" mentality. It gets back to strong parenting. Contrast this story to what Ted Ginn has had to say about what his Dad taught him. Without disparaging this young man or his parents, it's the kids who lack strong parenting who seem to be most at risk. I always hope kids like this will eventually get it right.
  3. osugrad21

    osugrad21 Capo Regime Staff Member

    It is a very fine line one must walk in situations such as this one. Coach Satterfield had the best intentions in mind during Demetris' HS days, but it was morphed into coddling instead of appreciation/inspiration by the player. Many times, I have picked up or taken kids home, called to wake them up or pulled them out of the bed, put food in their stomachs, and tutored more than I could count...however, the kid must always make the effort to do for himself. All underpriveleged kids deserve an opportunity, but it is on them to make the decision to hold true to what they are taught. As the saying goes, you can lead the horse to water but you cannot force him to drink.
  4. wadc45

    wadc45 Bourbon, Bow Ties and Baseball Hats Staff Member BP Recruiting Team

    too bad considering, per NCAA 2005, Demetris is going to be a Heisman finalist in 2005 and 2006...

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