While many of Leesville’s athletes dream of playing sports professionally, few actually achieve their aspirations and turn their dreams into a reality. Taylor Gentry, Leesville graduate in 2008, defied all odds when he signed an NFL contract with the Kansas City Chiefs.
All of Gentry’s hard work paid off when he was signed as a free agent earlier in 2012. “It’s the best feeling I have ever had,” said Gentry via text message. “All the hours I have spent in the gym and working on my football skills has paid off. I definitely had no idea this would ever happen when I was a football player at Leesville.”
Gentry knew he was a big dreamer when he first knew he wanted to play football at the collegiate level. He also knew that if he could be meaner, tougher, catch the football and work harder than
he knew then there was a possibility that he could do great things. Coupling those three things with lifting weights and running harder than anyone he knew helped him get into college.
The haters are what motivated Gentry. Coming out of high school with no scholarships motivated him to prove everyone wrong. Walking on at North Carolina State University, he had plenty of doubters.
Many critics thought he would never have the impact that he did on NC State’s football program. “My motivation has been to prove statistics wrong, numbers wrong and people wrong who say that it’s how big, fast and strong you are (yeah those things help), but its [sic] about how big your heart is and the determination to never be denied.”
Gentry attributes much of his success to Leesville’s coaching staff. At the time, Coach Green and Coach Smothers were very active in molding Gentry’s potential. “Coach Green pushed me on the field and basically molded me into an aggressive, mentally crazy football player on the field, who won’t take no for an answer and will only accept perfection,” said Gentry.
Smothers pushed Gentry in the weight room, leaving a thumb print on him which turned him into a player that will never be asked to workout, will be the hardest worker during the off season and will out work every player on the team. According to Gentry, “There is no off season.”
To all the Leesville players hoping to play football as a career, Gentry says that it starts with a mindset and ends with an unparalleled work ethic. “A man can achieve whatever he wants with the right mindset. That’s what I had then in high school, and I still have now beginning a hopeful career in the NFL, and that is the right type of mindset. That and work ethic, no matter if it’s football, soccer, baseball, golf, tennis or just any career in general, those two things will help you achieve the goals that you want.”
In his concluding remarks, Gentry offered some words of wisdom from his father: “Don’t wait for destiny to come knocking at your doorstep. Make your own destiny.”
He has lived by those words ever since.