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The locker room without locks on the lockers

POSTED: February 9, 2013 12:17 p.m.

As I’ve noted before in this space, I’ve been around the block a time or two covering sports.

But I heard something I hadn’t heard before on Wednesday during national signing day at Richmond Hill High School. It came as a couple of us media types got quotes from RHHS football coach Lyman Guy.

If you know Guy, you know he tends to avoid praising individual players. Deeply religious, Guy tends instead to talk about Xs and Os, team goals, character and faith and important stuff like that.

But as I fished for something about the six kids who were about to make their choice of college official on signing day, Guy uncorked one of the best compliments I ever heard laid on a football team and its leaders.

"We had 120 kids who made the football roster this year," Guy said. "We didn’t have a lock on a locker in the locker room because of the trust and love we had among teammates. We never had anything come up missing, never had a problem. That’s a direct reflection of these kids here in this room."

Maybe that’s not rare. But I’ve never heard of it happening.

And I wasn’t alone. Offensive lineman David Sneed, who is heading to LaGrange, played prep football in both Hawaii and Texas before finishing up in Richmond Hill.

"Everywhere else we had locks. I was surprised we had no locks when I got here," he said. "But I believe here you could take everything in your locker, pour it out in the middle of the locker room, come back the next day and coach would have it in his hands because someone would have picked it up and given it to him to give back to you."

Kendall Robinson, Sneed’s fellow offensive lineman, put it this way:

"We built the bond. You don’t even have to know the person, but it’s something about football that brings you together," said Robinson, who is headed to Livingstone (N.C.) College to play fullback. "You have to trust a man to do his job on the field, so you trust them in the locker room."

Defensive tackle and Alabama State-signee Taylor Hayes, who played his first two years at Windsor Forest, said there were locks on the lockers there.

"When I came here, nobody had a lock on their locker, so I didn’t worry about it," he said. "We’re big on family, big on trusting each other."

Trust and family were sentiments echoed by kicker Canon Rooker, who is headed to Middle Tennesse State University, defensive back T.K. Grisby, who is bound for Valdosta State and praised Richmond Hill as a community, and quarterback Dominique Allen, who will spend part of his summer getting ready for the Air Force Academy.

"If you can’t trust guys to leave your stuff alone, you can’t trust them to make a block or catch the ball or make a game-winning play," Allen said. "Even not having had locks on our lockers, we haven’t had a problem with it. It says a lot about the players we have. All 120 of them."

One other note: At 6-foot-3 and 340 pounds, Hayes is a very large young man who has some very large brothers — they’re roughly the same size. His older brother plays at Virginia Union. Both his younger brothers play at RHHS and Andrew, who will be a senior next year, could be a dominant force in 2013, Hayes said.

But never mind that, because Hayes is also one of the most likeable football players I’ve come across in a while, even if the guy makes Kung Fu Panda look like a hamster.

While interviewing him Wednesday, I asked him why he played football. He thought about it for a second and then said he played, well, because he knew people who couldn’t play.

"I had a friend who had scoliosis, and he always talked about playing and he really wanted to play. And that’s why I play. I play for those who can’t."

Good stuff.

Drive safe, Go Gamecocks.

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