Sand Hills, FL---Locals who followed high school ball in the late 90's in our area will remember the name Will Witherspoon.
It's hard to believe he's now spent more than a decade in the NFL!
Will spent time in our area late last week, talking about life from Rutherford to the National Football League, and how now, he's giving back.
The average length of an NFL career lasts just over three years. Will Witherspoon has blown average away throughout 12 seasons in the league.
The Class of '98 Rutherford grad knows his time as a Ram got him ready for his time as a pro.
"The first thing that comes to my mind is the coaching staff," says the former USA Today Florida High School Player of the Year. "The coaching staff with coach Hardin, and coach Rivers, coach McCrory, Springer, and everyone else there. And then, of course, the guys I played with. At any point in time, I could depend on any of those guys for anything. I've carried that same level of trust everywhere I've gone and how I want guys to look at me."
Will was a third round draft pick out of the University of Georgia in 2002 by the Carolina Panthers. Through 2014, he's played in a Super Bowl, had three triple-digit tackle seasons, and become a role model for our area's football players.
"Knowing that they can sit there and they can say 'Wow, he made it out of this, and he did this, and he accomplished these things. What does that mean for me?'"
Will advises "Think big, think outside the box. And think about what you can do and who you can be."
Witherspoon looks to motivate young NFL dreamers because he knows the odds of making it pro, and staying there, aren't high.
"Put in in reality. This is the one percent of the one percent. And even that is a one percent per year. You've got to prove yourself year in and year out that you're still capable, you're willing, and you're able to do everything that's asked of you."
Through nearly 200 games and close to 1000 tackles, Will's gone above and beyond what's been asked of him, and ready for more.
"You know, I've been extremely blessed to make it this long in this game and to look at it from the standpoint of saying, 'I can do this more'. Rutherford set a lot of foundation into that. I've always done it with the 'I can' attitude. And I've always done it with the understanding that no matter what the opportunity or the disadvantage that I had, I'm gonna figure out a way to get around it and do what I need to do."
Will is currently a free agent but he is hoping to play a 13th season. He tells us he's in talks with the Falcons and Rams about a contract.
NOTE: We cannot attach the video corresponding with this story because of the use of copyright images not permitted for online use.