Published November 10, 2005
ATHENS — Growing up, Josh Brock looked to others for guidance and correction.
That’s the role Brock, a member of Cartersville First Baptist Church, finds himself in today. However, it took an unexpected turn of events and peace from God to get him there.
On Sept. 28 team doctors informed the junior guard that his days on the Georgia Bulldog football team were over due to his latest concussion. No longer a player but still on scholarship, Brock was enlisted as a student-coach.
“I wasn’t as down about the news as I thought I’d be,” said Brock. “[Northeast Georgia representative for Fellowship of Christian Athletes] Jack Murray reminded me of Luke 12:48, my life verse. I’ve been given a lot in football, but there are other things I’m good at.
“My parents also reminded me of Colossians 3:23. Whatever I’m to do, I’m to do it for the Lord.”
UGA head coach March Richt reminded Brock all football careers come to an end. A Christian himself, Richt said God has a plan for everyone.
One of the most sought-after players in the state at Cartersville High School, Brock was a three-time all-county selection and twice named to first team all state. As a sophomore his blocking paved the way for senior running back Ronnie Brown and a state AA championship for the Purple Hurricanes.
At the time CHS was having a run of state titles in a variety of sports. The Big Man on Campus label came for Brock and he decided he wanted to do something with it.
“Will Startup and some of my other best friends decided we wanted to be strong [for Christ]. We all wanted to be spiritual leaders and not followers,” he said.
Startup signed with Georgia as a pitcher after leading Cartersville to a state championship in baseball. He is currently in the Atlanta Braves farm system.
During his junior year at Cartersville Brock served as president of FCA. He was vice president as a senior before graduating early to join the Bulldogs for spring practice.
Church and family shaped him as a person, Brock said.
“[Being involved in] Vacation Bible School and RAs really affected me. I came to know the Lord when I was 12. It was then that I started growing up a little and realizing the scheme of things. My parents and brother, Jeremy, have been guiding lights.
“I had some struggles, but when I turned 15 my dad had a lot of health problems and nearly died from cardiac arrest. I prayed and told God I’d do whatever He wanted me to do if only He’d spare my dad. He recovered and that set the tone for me spiritually.”
In high school Brock’s injuries had mainly involved his right leg. In the fifth game his junior year he tore a ligament in his right knee but played on it through the rest of the season before undergoing surgery. A broken fibula in his right leg caused him to miss the final two regular season games his senior year at Cartersville. He played four games wearing a cast until the Canes lost in the semifinals.
A mild concussion in high school was followed by a more serious one his first year at Georgia. In a drill the 6’3” 295 lb. Brock collided with defensive end Ray Gant, both suffering concussions. That didn’t stop the freshman from playing in each game – starting four of them – for the Bulldogs en route to the school’s first SEC championship in 20 years.
Brock started at guard every game as a sophomore. In preparing for his junior year this summer he again collided with Gant. This time only Brock got up woozy.
“I knew I had done it again, but didn’t want to come out,” said Brock. “I kept going and twenty minutes later I ended up on the ground during a play. The last thing I remembered seeing was the white Nike swoosh on someone’s shoe as they accidentally kicked me in the head.”
Brock came to with a crowd standing around him. He still wanted to finish the last two plays in the drill. Teammates couldn’t help but laugh when quarterback D.J. Shockley had to turn the punch-drunk Brock around to face the defense prior to a play.
Doctors found nothing funny about Brock’s condition, though. Over the next eight weeks he would be cleared and try to come back to practice but the headaches, nausea, dizziness and disorientation persisted. On Sept. 28 doctors told him he was medically disqualified from playing.
Brock says coaching influences in his life have led him to look forward to a similar position in shaping others. UGA’s strength and conditioning coach, Dave Van Halanger, and his high school coach, Frank Barden, are among those he credits as setting strong Christian examples.
Brock sees his new role on the football team as one where he can be just as influential, just in a different way.
“I’m not really an outsider. I can see both perspectives [as player and coach]. I can watch my former linemates from a coach’s perspective and give them guidance and support as to what they are doing wrong and right.
“Football’s a true team sport where if one person doesn’t get his job done everyone suffers. You’re a part of something bigger and better.
“It’s the same with Christianity. You have to forget your own prejudices and biases to gain for God. Live your life worthy of Him because you may be the only Jesus some people ever see.”
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