Focus on God, Not Self
For anyone who has spent time around Freddie, it has been easy to see that he hasn’t become arrogant and doesn’t seem to be affected by all of the success. He is fairly quiet when spending time with friends, more apt to listen than to share his thoughts. Additionally, he dodges accolades fiercely when they come his way, especially after his team beat TCU and he and quarterback Brian Johnson were the biggest story on campus. It seems that Freddie has found a way to remain extremely level as his team is rising to its highest level in years, and he sits right at the center of the Utes magical run.
Freddie’s secret is that he gives all the glory to God. It’s not just something he says with his mouth, his life backs up this statement that he often makes. Throughout his senior season, Freddie has helped with a Bible study for his teammates and is a constant presence at a local church in Salt Lake City. It seems that even though football is pouring out its blessings on him, he knows that his satisfaction still lies elsewhere.
For Freddie, a relationship with Jesus is the thing that truly brings him happiness. Football is just a blessing along the way. At 22, Freddie shows a remarkable amount of maturity and ability to keep God first in his life. The biggest reason for this is that he never really experienced life without God at the center. From the time he was a little, his mother, a native of South Korea, would take his sister and him to a local Korean church with her. From this great woman of faith, Freddie learned what a personal relationship with Jesus looks like. Even as a little kid he was taught to look to God for direction and to read the Bible and pray. His mother provided the great foundation on which Freddie has been able to build his own relationship with God.
As Freddie entered high school, he was blossoming into a promising football star and a sharp student. Fortunately, he also began to really read the Bible for himself, and take ownership of his relationship with Jesus. High school presented lots of temptation to walk away from God. The party life was always around, but football also presented a pull for his attention that was devoted to God. Freddie knew that Jesus was a better God to follow than football. So even though it was easy to put all his focus into his sport, he continued to play ball for God first, not himself.
Had Freddie not put God first through high school, and continued to build into his relationship with God, he would have set himself up for a very hard next few years. He was a highly recruited prospect playing in an all-star game his senior year when a back injury put an end to his hopes of moving on to a big name school. The injury cut interest off, and he ended up attending a junior college the next year. The following spring, the University of Utah came calling and Freddie was off to the Mountain West power with hopes of playing significantly in his first season there. However, he was disappointed again by little playing time that year, and only a slight increase the next two seasons. If Freddie had let football become the main focus of his life, instead of Jesus, this would have been a devastating time. Freddie knew that God was a much better place to put his faith than success on the field, so he was able to shift his focus more to the friendships he had with teammates and enjoy the team’s success as they won bowl games in each of his first three years at Utah.
Freddie’s ability to keep the focus off of himself during the good and bad times of his football career is a great testimony to his strong relationship with Jesus. It allowed him to really enjoy the years when he was dying for more playing time, but just as importantly it kept him humble when he became a centerpiece in the Utes undefeated season and return the the BCS. It will also carry him into the uncertainty of the NFL draft this spring, and wherever God takes him next.