MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) - A middle Georgia high school football player is leading by example--not only on the football field, but also in the classroom.
Vanderbilt commit Nigel Bowden is a rare breed of football player.
"It's a crazy deal," says Central head coach, Jesse Hicks. "He's such a violent person on the field during a football game, but when you meet him as a person, he's just got a great heart for other people--a real mild-mannered guy."
Bowden's 22-year-old brother, Jason, lost his life in the War in Iraq in 2007. Jason never got to see his little brother put on a varsity jersey.
"He always used to call me fat boy," says Bowden, laughing. "I used to be fat all the time, and I started working out more. It kind of makes me upset but knowing that he didn't see me, I still feel like I owe him something. Something inside of me just feels like I didn't give him enough when I was younger I guess, because everything he tried to teach me when I was younger I didn't do, but now I'm trying to do it. I'm trying to make sure I try to impress him now."
His other older brother, Joe, helps keep his drive going. Bowden will soon be an SEC football player, and he sports a 3.6 GPA.
"I actually had a French teacher come to me the first month that I was at work and say he'd never met a young man that wanted to learn as much as he did," says Hicks. "(It's) just his thirst for learning."
"(The way) I see it, (if) one of my teammates tries to make better grades than me, I try to study up harder every night," says Bowden. "I'll say, 'Hey, I got a 97 on that. I got a 100 on this; I did better than you.' I feel like French and school is always a competition between somebody. I always try to do better than the next guy."
The competition might be a little bit tougher at Vanderbilt, both in and out of the classroom, but Bowden says he's ready to head to Nashville.
"I just feel like I'm not going to let any man--no matter how big, no matter how fast, no matter how small he is--run me over like that," says the 17-year-old. "I just have that mindset."
And he's got the heart, too.
After starting 0-2, Bowden and the Chargers will try to grab their first win of the season Thursday night against Rutland at 7:30 at Macon's Henderson Stadium.