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The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

Faith before football: how Gabe Myles coped with his roadblocks

Noah Siano | The Reflector

Gabe Myles, senior receiver from Starkville, celebrates as one of his teammates scores a touchdown in MSU’s 35-10 win over BYU.

There was an ironic meme that went around the internet earlier in the year about how athletes constantly preach work ethic and faith in God, and to an extent, there is merit to the irony, but not in the case of Mississippi State University wide receiver Gabe Myles. 

Myles is someone who lives what he preaches.  

Myles, a senior, is a local player, one who grew up in and was molded by the streets of Starkville. He spent his high school years a six-minute drive from the stadium he now plays in. However, Myles is more than Starkville’s son, he is a believer and follower of Christ and one who is not afraid to proclaim it.

Myles said he is so open about his faith because he wants others to feel like they are able to be. The modern-day college athlete lives under a microscope. Every action they make is picked  apart and criticized, so at first, Myles said was scared he “did not know what they are going to say if I am strong in my faith.” 

He continued saying he did not want to be hypocritical and feel as if he was “holier than thou.” However, over time that changed. He is the first to admit his own faults and mistakes and has opened up about his faith in a more public manner because he puts things in God’s hands instead of his own.

“I just think that it can help others,” Myles said. “Others can be like, ‘okay I see what he is doing, he admits he is not perfect, let me be stronger in my faith and let me try to say Lord here take it,’ and I  am going to try and get better and be stronger in mine as well.”

The most notable moment of his openness came on July 10 when Myles opened up about idolizing football and how his struggles on the field in the 2016 season affected him. Myles has experienced roadblocks in his career. One of the few players remaining from MSU’s 2014 season, he saw action as a freshman and looked to be someone who could break out his sophomore year. 

In the third game of his sophomore season, Myles recorded 111 all-purpose yards and scored two touchdowns. He carried that momentum into the next game against SEC foe Auburn, scoring on a 32-yard touchdown. However, in the next game he hurt his ankle and missed the following three games and struggled the rest of that season and then in the following season. 

Then as things seemed to be on the upturn his senior season, scoring touchdowns in his first two games, he was hit with another roadblock. His foot was back in a boot and he missed the following three games.

In the testimonial video released over the summer, he said his struggles on the field caused him to have an identity crisis. 

“I lost myself to football, I lost myself to something of the world,” Myles said in the video. “I had taken God and replaced him with football. I was trying to do everything that was through football to please me.”

Myles is now back from that injury this season, playing in the game against BYU and recording one reception for 20 yards. His roadblocks have done nothing but strengthen Myles and grow his faith in God. 

Myles said it hit him as he was driving off campus one day. 

“I just think God is saying look I am going to hold you so you can make sure you can get done what you need to get done,” Myles said. “Get your priorities in order and so you know what you are playing for and who you are playing for.”

“How are you going to react? Are you going to be a good teammate to your team? Are you going to be a good leader on and off? What are you going to do to really show you are playing for my [God’s] glory?”

Myles said at first he played for other people. He played for his family, friends and the city of Starkville. But he said by doing so he put a lot of pressure on himself to perform well and it caused constant worry about what others would think of every drop or misstep. 

He said the roadblocks have a way of teaching and growing him because there will come a day where he will be unable to continue playing football. However, his mentality eventually changed over time and he pointed to a specific devotional he was reading one day. 

“I read a devotional that said, ‘anytime you are more worried about what other people think, you have a made an idol of those people’,” Myles said.

Now his mentality is not viewing how people see Gabe Myles on the football field but how people can see God through him. 

“Every snap I am blessed to be out on this football Lord, I am going to go 100 percent for your glory, whatever happens, I am doing it for you [God],” Myles said. “Whatever happens, how can people see God on the football field.”

He said the change in mentality not only changed things off the field but has made things easier on the field. He said he it takes pressure off of his shoulders, “because it is like I am no longer worried about what other people think of me.”

“That kind of human stuff, it happens everybody, to the best of us,” Myles said. “But it changed my whole mindset. It is his plan, he is going to see me through it. All I have to do is keep my head up and know why I am playing and who I am playing for.”

His attitude has made waves throughout the rest of the team. Myles is one of the senior leaders in the receiver room and on the team. Sophomore wide receiver Jamal Couch had high praise for Myles’s leadership in the locker room. 

“Pretty much whatever I see him do, I try to do myself,” Couch, from Phenix City, Alabama, said.

Myles said he not only wants to leave a legacy on the field but also with the people he meets to try and grow them. He said he wants to leave a legacy that says, “Gabe, he had a purpose and he helped me.” He said that in doing so he not only grows others but they grow him. 

Growing others is something he wants to continue to do after his playing days are done. While Myles thinks college football is fantastic, he wants to go coach and teach at the high school level. He said wants to be there to encourage hardnosed players who may not be going D-1. 

“I just think high school football is the most carefree and fun football you can ever imagine,” Myles said. “You are going out with guys that are not five-star athletes all the time. My high school center was like 5’8” maybe, like 170 and we won the state championship. To see heart in guys, I am getting chills talking about it.”

He said  part of the reason he wants to be a high school teacher and coach is because he felt like there were not a lot of male African American figures in high schools. Instead of complaining or asking why it was, he asked, “Why can’t I be a male figure?” and that drives him to become that leader for high schoolers. 

“High school is the perfect time to help mold young people,” Myles said. “To have another male figure that can say, ‘look, you can do whatever you want to do.’ To go be a positive influence.”

Myles is someone who has suffered setback after setback but continues to remain driven by faith and football.

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Faith before football: how Gabe Myles coped with his roadblocks