Former GHS graduate finds fulfillment at Christian university

Published 5:11 pm Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Greenville High School senior wide receiver Matthew Craig fights for yardage during the Tigers’ 43-0 win over Wilcox Central High School Thursday night at Tiger Stadium. Craig and the Tigers will open the postseason Friday night by travelling to Homewood High School. (Advocate Staff/Andy Brown)

Former Greenville standout Matthew Craig is using his experience at Southeastern University to grow both on and off the field. (Advocate Staff/Andy Brown)

Matthew Craig, 2013 Greenville High School graduate, signed on to be a member of Southestern University’s very first football team with the hopes of becoming a better athlete.
But inevitably, Craig’s time spent in Lakeland, Fla., have made him a better person, as well.
As a part of the upstart NAIA program’s second-ever recruiting class, there were no football games to speak of in 2013.
But Craig said that the experience has been an enlightening one nonetheless.
“We didn’t have any games my first year, so I just trained all year,” Craig said.
“I’ve grown in my game a lot, but most of all, I’ve grown in my relationship with Christ.”
The 6-foot-3 receiver has been a member of the Lakeland community as a student athlete, attending chapel services and football practices in equal measure.
In addition to taking Christ culture classes and participating in extracurricular activities outside of the school’s walls, such as community service projects that aid the area’s homeless population, Craig also finds time to hone his skills on the gridiron.
But there were a few hurdles to overcome, at first.
“First of all, the climate and the temperature in Florida is way different, so it took me some time to get adjusted to that,” Craig said.
“The training is a bit harder because of the weather; it’s extremely hot.  And the coach is a condition junkie, so we run a lot.
“In high school, the practices were way shorter, and you can kind of lollygag through it. But here the athletic level is way higher, so you have to get out there and show that you can play.”
Craig also caught the eye of the Southeastern University’s basketball team, where he walked on and became a part of a team that made it to the NAIA semifinals.
A full schedule packed with both athletics and athletics don’t leave much time to think about home, but Craig will find himself fairly close with the first football game of the season on the road against Faulkner University on September 6.
And though he’s happy to be back so close to home, the experience of self-improvement outweighs any feelings of being homesick.
“I feel homesick sometimes, but I know that I’m bettering myself and I know that if I succeed in this, when I get ready to come home, then it’ll be worth coming home,” Craig said.
“I’m still not where I want to be, as far as my relationship with Christ.  But I’m sharpening myself as time goes by.  So I can’t complain much.”

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