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Alabama in the Pros

An inside look at ex-Alabama quarterback Blake Sims’ signing to Atlanta Falcons

Fomer Alabama quarterback Blake Sims (No. 6) holding his daughter, Kyla, after 2014 SEC title game vs. Missouri: Cedric Mason - Touchdown Alabama Magazine

TUSCALOOSA, Ala.| The Disney World of sports strikes again.

Ex-Alabama standout Mike McCoy has always viewed life through a biblical lens; a lens that started from the perseverance of his mother, to an NFL dream he pinned in his bible as a child. He was not granted a full chance toward his professional goals, but it’s motivated him to help the next wave of athletes find success.

After mentoring highly-profiled names, including Russell Wilson, Alfred Morris, Luke Kuechly and Mohamed Sanu, McCoy returned the favor to his Alma mater. He prepared Marcell Dareus, Courtney Upshaw, Trent Richardson and Dont’a Hightower for the National Football League. The latest Crimson Tide alumnus from McCoy’s gym, Warehouse Performance Institute, that heads to work is quarterback Blake Sims.

Prior to WPI, Sims played five seasons at Alabama (2010-14) and earned tryouts for the Green Bay Packers and Washington Redskins. The Georgia native made it into the record books as a senior, totaling 3,487 passing yards (season record) and 35 touchdowns to 10 interceptions in the 2014 season. While Trent Richardson was pushing for an NFL comeback during the offseason, Sims decided to join him in being trained by McCoy.

McCoy’s process earned Richardson a shot with the Baltimore Ravens. Though Sims was proud of seeing his former Tide teammate get another chance, he stayed in Birmingham and remained faithful to the grind.

In talking with TDAL Magazine, McCoy said the biggest thing with Sims was challenging him mentally.

“The mind is a powerful thing,” he said.

“No one was challenging him mentally, so I got him to start reading more. When he came in with Trent and stayed, I told him to ‘trust the process and enjoy it’. We talked, checked off goals and he bought in.”

As Sims poured of himself into each student in McCoy’s high school camps, McCoy poured back into him. A combination of strong conversations, rigorous training and a healthy diet, whipped Sims into football shape.

“Our agenda was to train for quarterback, running back and wide receiver,” McCoy said. “We worked on step and drops for quarterbacks, coming in and out of breaks for receivers and found ways to clean up his diet.”

He was overlooked in the 2015 NFL Draft and did not have a secured role in the Canadian Football League, nevertheless, McCoy never gave up on Sims and he never gave up on himself. Calls slowly started coming for Sims last week to workout for NFL teams. Four to six franchises looked at him, including the Atlanta Falcons and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Falcons’ coach Dan Quinn loved what he saw from the 2014 Southeastern Conference championship quarterback, and signed him to the team’s practice squad as a running back.

McCoy said he could feel Sims’ emotions when he called him.

“I knew he had gotten signed before the media found out,” he said. “He called me on Sunday while my wife and I were at a church camp. All I heard was him crying as he told me ‘they signed me, Mike, they signed me.'”

Now was McCoy surprised by this? Of course not. However, he was very proud of Sims.

“I tell people all the time that I have the best job in the world,” McCoy said. “When you get a positive message, it makes your job better. I was happy for him. We formed a bond, and he’s a little brother to me.”

Another person in Sims’ life that’s screaming for joy is his daughter, Kyla.

She warmed the hearts of national media in holding a pink “Roll Tide” poster in the air, during Alabama’s match-up against Missouri in the 2014 SEC title game. The girl who encouraged her father before and after games would get the final words on Sims’ season, telling CBS’ sideline reporter Allie LaForce “daddy did well.”

“I am so happy for her,” McCoy said on Kyla Sims.

“That’s Blake’s biggest fan. She is all he talks about and for him to be able to provide for her is huge.”

For a man who did not coin the phrase “you got to get some square out of your circle,” McCoy uses it for every client that comes through the Warehouse. Regardless of whether one is a professional athlete or a high school student, it’s a venue where people can block out external factors and reach for what they want to obtain.

The final thing McCoy told Sims on Sunday was to “cherish the moment and run with it.”

“He’s an employee now,” McCoy said. “The NFL is a bottom line business.”

For Sims, the landing spot could not have been any better. His team is an hour away from his hometown, Gainesville, and he has a chance to crack the 53-man roster. Both Sims and McCoy know how good of an athlete Sims is, now it’s time for Sims to join Hightower, Dareus and Upshaw in dominating this league.

Stephen M. Smith is a senior analyst and columnist for Touchdown Alabama MagazineYou can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @Smsmith_TDALMag.

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Stephen Smith is a 2015 graduate of the University of Alabama. He is a senior writer and reporter for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. He has covered Alabama football for 10+ years and his knowledge and coverage of the Crimson Tide's program have made him among the most respected journalist in his field. Smith has been featured on ESPN and several other marquee outlets as an analyst.

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