#Fulla5 w/ Auburn great Will Herring (@wherring54)

So, who better for my first ever #Fulla5 interview (5 questions) than 8 year NFL veteran and former Auburn standout Will Herring? I couldn’t think of anyone. He’s just a super guy. Throw in the fact that, like me, he’s an Opelika boy, and he was the perfect choice.

Will H and me

He played 8 years in the NFL and I played 8 days at Opelika Junior High, so we’re basically the same guy.

Will recently went to work as a mortgage banker with Ameris Bank and is also one of the owners of The AU Club. He’s also very active in the community with organizations such as Youth For Christ. He is one busy guy.

He lives in Auburn with his wife Ashley and their three beautiful children.

At Auburn, he earned letters each year from 2003-2006 while playing safety before moving to outside linebacker his senior season. Upon his departure from The Plains, he held the school’s career record with 49 consecutive starts. He was selected in the 5th round of the 2007 NFL draft by the Seattle Seahawks. He went on to play for the Saints and Rams, too. But his life is so much more than football.

1) How does banking compare to football? What’s more rewarding, sacking a quarterback or approving someone for their first home loan?

I can honestly say I didn’t grow up thinking I wanted to be a mortgage banker after playing in the NFL. However, both can be very fulfilling. Making a big hit to spark the defense is pretty cool, but it’s also pretty gratifying helping someone buy the home of their dreams.  It’s easy to let what you do define who you are. While playing football was a lot of fun, I tried to keep it in perspective. Faith, family, and friends last a lifetime. I always knew my football career would end.

Will Seahawks

* http://amerisbankmortgage.com/banker/WillHerring

2) The family keeps growing. Now you have little Isaiah. To you, how are baby boys different from baby girls? How has the faith that you and Ashley share impacted your decision to adopt?

I always heard boys were way more of a handful than girls. Well, besides Isaiah being twice the size of his sisters at 11 months, he’s pretty laid back. He will hit you with a mean head butt though if you’re not careful. Years ago, The Lord put it on Ashley’s heart to adopt. He has blessed up beyond our dreams with 3 beautiful children, two of which are through adoption.

Will Herring family

3) Is Auburn the uncrowned 2004 National Champions? What’s your fondest memory from your times on “The Plains” and why? (USC was stripped of their BCS title due to infractions involving Reggie Bush.)

I think we’re ok with just being 2004 SEC Champs. Sure, we all wish we’d have gotten a shot, but it is what it is. 13-0. No regrets. I think my favorite memory was beating Tennessee up in Knoxville pretty handedly. That was the game where we realized that this was a special team.

*By the way, if you haven’t heard Will’s 2013 pre-game Iron Bowl speech, watch this. It’ll give you chill bumps. @WarBlogle added it to the highlights following the game, which was one of the most exciting finishes in the history of college football. #KickSix

4) What are your fondest memories from growing up in Opelika?

Going to eat breakfast at Tyler’s with my dad and brother after freezing all morning in a deer stand.

*I love that he keeps it so simple. Family. That’s what it’s all about.

5) So what’s new at the AU Club?

The AU Club has got a lot of great things going on. We’ve hired Robert Hines as our new chef for Clubhouse Restaurant and he’s been incredible! The restaurant is open to the public. We’re slowing chipping away at a few minor renovations in the restaurant to enhance the dining experience.

  • The list of improvements include:
  • wine lockers for members
  • replacing carpet with hardwood flooring
  • addition of historic Auburn artwork throughout
  • replacing current countertop with concrete counter top

Now that the weather has warmed up, golf is in full swing and summer is just around the corner!

*AUGolfClub.com

Be sure to follow Will (wherring54) and AU Golf Club on Twitter.

Thanks for your time, Will. War Eagle, Go Dawgs, and God Bless!

Jody Fuller is from Opelika, Ala. He is a comic, speaker, writer and soldier with three tours of duty in Iraq. He is also a lifetime stutterer. He can be reached at jody@jodyfuller.com. For more information, please visit http://www.jodyfuller.com.

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Patience pays off

“I’m a very patient person,” I often say. “I just hate waiting.”

For five days last week I wore my ACUs for the first time since September. For you civilian folks, the ACU is the Army Combat Uniform. I’m 23 pounds lighter than when I last wore them, so they fit better than ever. I took pride in my look as I reported to my new Army Reserve unit at Ft. Gillem, GA near Atlanta.

I showed up the first day about 15 minutes early. There’s that old Army saying about showing up 15 minutes early or you’re late. I’ve never been a fan of that. I just like to be there on time. So, on the second day, I showed up 15 minutes late. I just wanted to balance things out.

The first day was spent filling out paperwork. They must’ve cut down three trees just to have enough paper to collect my information. The paperwork was followed by more registration online, but I could do only so much due to the expired certificates on my common access card. For you civilian folks, that’s my ID card, which is inserted into the computer for access.

I was unable to get very much accomplished due to the lack of the aforementioned access. I called to make an appointment to have a new ID card made, but they couldn’t see me until August 10. I just shook my head and wished I had a bracelet on my wrist with the letters WWPD. We’ve all seen the What Would Jesus Do bracelets, but mine would be What Would Patton Do. Seriously, how would one of the greatest leaders in our nation’s history feel about our dependence upon computers?

All in all, it was a good first day, but it was a long first day. The unit pays for a hotel room during our drills or as they call them in the Reserves “Battle Assemblies.” I still call them drills, thank you very much. I got to the hotel room, and my room was not paid. I didn’t think to get any numbers from anyone in the unit during the day, so I was not a happy camper. I needed to go home to retrieve some paperwork anyway, so this was just the Good Lord giving me some guidance.

I still felt dejected. I was also starving to death, so I went to the Cracker Barrel across the street before heading home. Since I’d not been able to check into my hotel room, I was still in my uniform. My food took seemingly forever to cook. The manager came out twice to apologize for the delay. I showed my patience and put on a happy face but was still dejected. Once the food arrived, things got better.

A few minutes later, a rather large, bearded gentleman stepped over into my space and extended his hand. The first thing I noticed was the ball cap on his head. He was a Vietnam Veteran. In his other hand, he held the ticket for the meal I was eating. “Thank you for your service,” he said. “I got this.”

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I was down in the dumps for very minor setbacks throughout the day. I couldn’t help but think of all the terrible days he experienced in that land so far away. Although I served a total of 34 months in Iraq, nothing I did or saw will ever compare to his experiences.

The Vietnam Veterans were treated so unfairly upon their return and have every reason to be bitter for the unjust treatment; however, most of them bear no resentment towards their country. Their patience with our nation should serve as an example to each of us. I am extremely grateful for this gentleman and for all the other Vietnam Veterans who served this nation so admirably.

As for the remainder of the weekend, it had its ups and downs but ended on the highest of highs. On Sunday, my wife, daughter, mother-in-law, and sister-in-law woke up at the crack of dawn so they could be in Atlanta at 9:00 to witness my promotion to Major. The best part is that I didn’t even tell them about it until early Saturday evening, yet they still did what they had to do to be there.

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Actually, the best part was having my wife pin on my oak leaf. In a perfect Army, I would’ve been promoted two years ago, but had that happened, I would’ve missed out on this amazing memory. My patience paid off.

Jody Fuller is a comic, speaker, writer and soldier with three tours of duty in Iraq. He is also a lifetime stutterer. He can be reached at jody@jodyfuller.com. For more information, please visit http://www.jodyfuller.com.

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A Real Man: My Father’s Day Tribute

It’s often been said that anyone can be a father, but it takes a real man to be a dad.

My dad was a real man, and I don’t mean just because he had a mustache.

Before losing his eyesight to diabetes in 1974, he was a barber. Since there’s little demand for blind barbers these days, he needed some help and enrolled in the Alabama School for the Blind in Talladega.

Perhaps there wasn’t a demand for blind barbers, but it sure looks like one got “aholt” of me.

Upon the completion of the program in Talladega, he’d acquired the necessary skills and training to operate a business.

He didn’t open up a Fortune 500 company, but he did participate in the Business Enterprise Program for the Blind. This program provides participants who are legally blind with the opportunity to operate their own food service or vending facility. The Business Enterprise Program provides initial training for potential licensees and ongoing counseling and management services to established operators.

All operators retain the majority of the net proceeds from their facility and a small percentage goes back to the division to assist with the program’s operations and expenses.

My dad, who was completely blind, managed the snack machines at many federal and state buildings in Montgomery.

At this point, he and my mom were divorced and he’d remarried another lady who was legally blind. Therefore, neither could drive, so he had to walk to the bus stop every day with nothing but his keen senses and a walking cane and then somehow managed to maneuver his way around our capitol city.

My brother and I went to work with him a few times, but, at the time, had no idea what we were witnessing. Now, however, I’m in awe of what he did. He set such a great example for his two young and impressionable boys to follow.

He didn’t claim to be special, he just led by example. He put his pants on one leg at a time just like any other father. He just didn’t know what color they were once he got them on.

We would spend every other weekend with him, as well as a few weeks during the summer. Oftentimes, as we were loading back up into our 1971 gas guzzling Sherman tank to head back to Opelika, our dad would give us money. It never was much. If we were lucky, it was a Kennedy half dollar.

Sherman Tank

We used to get a lot of spankings but I usually had time to pad my backside before the blind man took off his belt. Hey, a boy’s gotta do what a boy’s gotta do.

Unfortunately, I didn’t always have time to pad the backside.

One day, before getting into the gas guzzler, I asked him for the money, and he yanked his belt off like Sinbad the Sailor. I got a lot of whippings when I was a kid, but there are about four of them that stand out above all the rest. This was one of them.

He taught me a valuable lesson that day. I hadn’t done anything to earn that money and certainly wasn’t entitled to it. Since that day, I’ve never held my hand out expecting something for doing nothing. I’m grateful he set me straight at such an early age.

He was a real father.

He taught us to say “Yes, sir” and “No, sir.”

For Christmas, he bought us enriching gifts such as globes, books, and encyclopedias.

He even made us eat all of our vegetables. While my brother gladly obliged, I fake moaned and groaned as I either fed them to the dog or quietly raked them into the trashcan.

Once again, a boy’s gotta do what a boy’s gotta do.

Sorry, daddy, but I still don’t eat vegetables.

Diabetes ended his life prematurely. He was just 35 years old. My brother was 11; I was a month shy of turning nine.

We weren’t with him for very long, but we were with him long enough to be forever impacted by his fatherly ways. The man knew what he was doing. He had a great father, as well. It’s amazing how that works.

Sadly not all kids have great fathers and that’s a shame. Every kid needs a father or a father figure in his or her life. When my dad died, one of my uncles picked up the slack.

Grateful that my Uncle Wayde picked up the slack , even if he did wear Daisy Dukes to Panama City.

If a father figure is not available, the mother must pull double duty. Although, incredibly difficult, it can be done. I’m grateful to have had a strong mother, too.

So, to all the dads out there, I say Happy Father’s Day; however, if you’re just a father and not a dad, the time to make that transition is right now.

Jody Fuller is a comic, speaker, and soldier. He can be reached at jody@jodyfuller.com. For more information, please visit http://www.jodyfuller.com.

This is one of only two pictures I have with him. The other is from a large family gathering. Glad to see my parents had the same haircut. Wylie was growing into his. I always was a little different.

This is one of only two pictures I have with him. The other is from a large family gathering. Glad to see my parents had the same haircut. Wylie was growing into his. I always was a little different.