Drayton spurned law career to coach



The former Allegheny standout and coach is now an assistant for Florida.
By ROB TODOR
VINDICATOR SPORTS EDITOR
PHOENIX -- University of Florida running backs coach Stan Drayton has faced many challenges in his career.
None of them, though, were as difficult as the day he sat down with his parents to tell them his career choice.
"[After graduation] I sat in a testing room to take the LSAT. I thought I was going to be a lawyer," he recalled. "I sat in that test for about 15 minutes and jumped up and walked out of there. I said, 'This isn't me. This isn't what I want to do.'
"I loved football but I just didn't think of being a coach at the time. And the moment I got on the field and started coaching I knew immediately that's what I wanted to do. It was just a matter of convincing my mom and dad this was the right career for me. They weren't too happy at first."
Drayton can laugh now, because his coaching career has taken him from Allegheny College (his alma mater) to Villanova to the NFL and now with the Gators.
"I always dreamed of being in situations like this," he said. "It is a true honor and to see that dream coming true is very special."
Drayton can draw on a championship experience as the Gators prepared for Monday's BCS title game against Ohio State.
Led Allegheny to title
He was a sophomore member of Allegheny's 1990 NCAA Division III championship team. He led the team in rushing that season, and still holds virtually every school rushing and scoring record.
He was twice selected an All-American and was the player of the year in the North Coast Athletic Conference in 1992. He was also an accomplished track athlete, winning seven league championships and earning All-America status in the 200-meters.
"We didn't get all this media attention [at the Stagg Bowl]," laughed Drayton. "We just showed up and when the game was over it popped up on ESPN.
"To win the national championship is truly a special thing and even though it was the smallest level of college football, the stage is still the same for the football player. It's all relative. I feel like I have testimony to tell them what it takes to win a national championship, regardless of the level."
Drayton coached with the Green Bay Packers from 2001-03 before joining Sylvester Croom at Mississippi State. He spent one season there before Urban Meyer brought him to Gainesville.
Learning experience in NFL
"The NFL was a tremendous experience for me, from a career standpoint," said Drayton. "It's all football and you learn from the best in the country at coaching football. That was a tremendous experience, having a chance to see the professional level of football being executed.
"From there it was me getting back into college football, being around kids where they're a little more impressionable. They hungry to get to the NFL and I can say I've been there and I know what it takes to get there. That leaves a big-time impression on these young men."
Joining Meyer at Florida was an easy decision for Drayton. He spent a short time with Meyer at Bowling Green before the Packers called.
"I know [Meyer is] going to do it the right way," said Drayton. "I wasn't going to leave Coach Croom for a guy who wasn't going to do it the right way. He doesn't put the emphasis on just football, but academically, and also growing into manhood. Football was that vehicle for me; it helped me get to manhood. I'm going to make sure these kids use that same vehicle to get to manhood."
todor@vindy.com

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