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Talk centers on football for Legens

Talk centers on football for Legens

Posted: Friday, October 21, 2011 12:03 pm

By MIKE HUTCHENS
Press Sports
Steve and Beth Legens expect to have all three of their boys at home at some time during the upcoming holiday season.
The dinner table conversation will almost certainly revolve around football.
The Legens family sons — Brady, Buddy and Barkley — all played at Westview High School with both Buddy and Barkley now competing on the next level at different colleges.
And it is middle child Buddy who has earned the right to speak first in any chat centering around the gridiron.
A two-way starter at Rhodes College, Buddy is a team captain as a senior for the Division III Lynx, who are 2-3 entering this weekend’s home game in Memphis with Austin (Texas) College.
The team’s top receiver and No. 1 pass-catcher in the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference with 42 receptions for 454 yards and 2 TDs is a college game rarity as a two-way starter for Rhodes at both a wideout and cornerback. He ranks in the Top 10 in 10 different statistical categories for the Lynx.
Buddy first attended Wheaton (Ill.) College — the alma mater of Billy Graham — after graduating from Westview, where he was a two-season multi-purpose threat on offense and ball-hawking defender from the secondary.
He said he was attracted to the school in the West suburbs of Chicago because “it was a Christian school with a different environment and a lot of people there shared the same values and beliefs I have.”
The opportunity to continue playing football was there, too, he said, though a longing to return closer to his southern roots and sporadic playing time on defense over his two years there prompted him to seek a new college home.
“The northern environment… it was way to cold up there,” Buddy joked.
He’s certainly fit comfortably at Rhodes, where he earned second-team All-SCAC honors as a junior last season as a receiver (47-497 4 TDs) while seeing double-duty both then and this year while regularly playing more snaps than anyone on the team.
“It’s definitely been exhausting,” Buddy confirmed. “When I transferred to Rhodes, the lure of playing both ways was something the coaches talked about.
“At first, playing receiver was my favorite, but I’ve really started to like defense a lot more because it’s all about seeing the ball and reacting. It’s a good balance for me playing both sides of the ball.”
Though not heavily recruited out of high school, Buddy said he simply wasn’t ready to hang up his helmet after his final Charger game — thus inspiring him to find a place to play in college.
“Once I played my last game at Westview, I knew that wouldn’t be it for me,” he insisted. “Even though it’s not Division I, it’s still football. It’s competition and the passion is the same.”
Buddy’s baby brother, Barkley, will get the chance to put his two-cents worth in during any family time where the discussion centers around the pigskin.
Barkley is redshirting his freshman year at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia (Ark.) after a standout prep career at Westview, where he was a two-time all-region player and voted the Chargers’ MVP on defense his senior year.
A defensive end who ultimately and ironically ended up being the team’s only two-way starter his senior year, he is sharpening his skills as an end/linebacker against a Tiger offensive unit that he says includes three All-Americans.
“It’s tough, but it’s going OK,” Barkley stated. “We have mainly a junior and senior team and there were only about five freshmen who didn’t redshirt. We work out four days a week and going against those guys who are so good every day in practice is only going to make me better.”
The youngest Legens sibling said middle child Buddy encouraged him to continue playing after high school, citing his similar love for the game. He chose OBU, a Division II school that is a member of the first-year Great American Conference and currently sports a 4-2 overall record that includes a 3-0 league mark.
“Coach (Trey) Cantrell really helped me and wanted me to go on and play somewhere,” Barkley said, referring to the Westview assistant coach. “He worked extra with me and really encouraged me to go on beyond high school.
“I have a lot of fond memories of Westview. We had a good group of guys to come up together. I guess beating Milan and stopping their long winning streak my senior year is one of the things I’ll always remember the most.”
Arkadelphia is “a lot like Martin,” and “about five hours from home,” he said. He attended several of his brothers’ games last year, but said he won’t see him play this year for a couple of more weeks.
Both Legens boys say they got encouragement — but not pressure — from their parents from youth league football through high school and then to their current situations.
And that’s not surprising since Steve played at UT Martin during two separate stints and then served as a volunteer assistant at Martin Middle School, while Beth was a high school athlete herself, according to Buddy.
Steve and Beth have traveled extensively while following Buddy’s career, never missing a game, they say.
Eldest Legens child Brady, who played for the Chargers before graduating in 2006, will join the holiday conversation as well upon returning to Martin from graduate school at San Diego State after earning a degree at UT Martin.
The talk likely won’t center much around his schooling nor the opportunity Buddy will have to intern next summer at Ernst & Young — one of the world’s top accounting firms — though Buddy says he hopes to transition the lessons learned on the gridiron into a team environment in the workforce.
“Brady always gets together some guys when we’re all at home for a game of two-hand touch,” Barkley said.
Seemingly, there will always be games to be played where the Legens family is concerned. Published in The WCP 10.20.11

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