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NFL HALL OF FAMER ED “TOO TALL” Jones had a short-lived boxing career following his playing days with the Dal- las Cowboys. While Jones’ foray into
the ring was somewhat of a novelty, a Hickory
Ridge football player doesn’t take the sport lightly
and uses it to his advantage on the football field.
Nate Mullen, a 5-foot- 8, 155-pound slot receiver and kick returner at the Harrisburg, N.C.,
school, has been boxing since the sixth grade –
a time when most kids are participating in traditional team sports like basketball and baseball.
Mullen’s father introduced him to boxing during
middle school through a trainer at a local gym.
“I really started liking it,” he said. “It’s very
In high school Mullen has spent the time
between football and track seasons honing
his boxing skills. As a sophomore he fought
in a Golden Gloves tournament in Charlotte,
N.C., and upped his career record to 2-1 in the
162-pound weight class.
Mullen says boxing has improved his mental
toughness and coordination, which helped him
score 19 touchdowns (rushing, receiving, kick
return and punt return) in 2013 as a junior and
31 for his career.
But how does football com-
pare to boxing?
“It’s a lot more nerve wrack-
“The football pain lasts longer because the
ing in boxing because I’ve
been playing football my whole
life,” Mullen said. “When your
adrenalin is going you don’t
feel [getting punched]. It’s in
and out of your head quickly.”
As a receiver and kick re-
turner Mullen is used to taking
hard hits on the football field,
too. While he hasn’t suffered
any major injuries in boxing
– only aches and pain – he’s
says he gets more banged up
in the ring than on the field. It
usually takes him several days
to recover from a fight and 48
hours or so to get over a football game.
game is longer than a three-round fight,” Mul-
He describes football pain as “soreness in
the body,” but in boxing the injuries are more
visible – black eyes, swollen face and tender
jaw. As a rising senior, Mullen recently tried out
for the North Carolina Shrine Bowl team with
hopes of making the All-Star squad.
He’s been offered scholarships by Charlotte
and Gardner Webb and received interest from
East Carolina, N.C. State, Charleston Southern
and Coastal Carolina. If football doesn’t work
out, Mullen says he’ll always have boxing on
which to fall back.
Wr, Hickory ridge
BENJAMIN LEMAY HAS HAD PLENTY of role models and support as a student-athlete and person. The 6-foot-0, 195-pound, junior
running back from Butler High School has
watched his father and mother build a successful ministry in Charlotte, N.C., and seen
two older brothers sign letters of Intent to
play football collegiately. As the youngest in a
football-playing family, LeMay has gotten the
same backing from his parents that his bothers
received and tried to mimic the things Christian
and Uriah did on and off the field.
His father, Dr. Stacy LeMay, a former Florida
A&M football player who founded Champion
Kingdom Center, and mother, Dr. DeNae LeMay,
have always been his No. 1 fans and made sacrifices for him along the way.
“They’ve come to all my games and sup-
ported me. My dad has taken me to college
campuses and talked to the coaches for me. I
know he has a busy schedule, but he’s there
for me,” LeMay said. “That’s one thing a lot of
people take for granted – having a dad at home
and being a role model for you.”
Christian was a four-star quar-
terback and the 2009 Gatorade
Player of the Year in North Caro-
lina, leading the Bulldogs to a
state championship by throwing
for 3,296 yards with 48 touch-
down passes. He signed with
Georgia and backed up Aaron
Murray but has since transferred
to Jacksonville State.
“[I admired] his character on
and off the field,” Benjamin said
of Christian. “He was the same
guy everywhere he went and was
Uriah was a three- and four-star wide receiver
at Butler, catching 43 passes for 842 yards
with 14 touchdowns in 2011. He also signed
with Georgia, transferring to Charlotte this past
“[I admired] his personality,” Benjamin said.
On the heels of a sophomore season in which
“He’s a go-getter and that’s what I like about
Benjamin also said he has an uncle in Florida,
Freddie Lucas, who has been like a second fa-
ther to him. The LeMays are a close-knit family,
spending Sundays at church and having a meal
together after the service.
he rushed for 1,380 yards and 26 touchdowns,
Benjamin received his first offer in the spring
from Charlotte, the same school Uriah attends.
“MY DAD HAS TAKEN ME TO COLLEGE CAMPUSES AND TALKED TO THE COACHES FOR ME. I KNOW HE HAS A BUSY
SCHEDULE, BUT HE’S THERE FOR ME.” — BENJAMIN LEMAY
“THE FOOTBALL PAIN LASTS LONGER BECAUSE THE GAME IS LONGER THAN A THREE-ROUND FIGHT.”
— NATE MULLEN