Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Owens Turns Corner; Jackson Standout Finds 'Right Path,' Earns Scholarship to Georgia

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Owens Turns Corner; Jackson Standout Finds 'Right Path,' Earns Scholarship to Georgia

Article excerpt

Byline: HAYS CARLYON

Jackson coach Kevin Sullivan saw the potential in Derek Owens as he entered high school.

Not just on the football field, but in life.

Four years later, Owens is many things. He's one of the best cornerbacks the school has ever produced. He's headed on a full scholarship to play football at Georgia.

He's one of Sullivan's greatest victories.

Owens intercepted 20 passes in his career and was the area's best cover corner this season. For his accomplishments, Owens was a lock for the Times-Union's Super 24 team, which honors the best college football prospects in the newspaper's coverage area.

"I wasn't on the right path when I got to Jackson," Owens said. "My grades were bad. Coach Sullivan sat me down and told me I could be one of the best to come out of Jackson. He told me if you hang with dogs you get fleas and that I needed to be around a better crowd. I didn't have a father around and he changed my life. I wouldn't be going to Georgia without him, and I love him to death."

Jackson won 11 games this season and has accomplished a great deal in Sullivan's 11-year tenure. But few things make him beam like talking about Owens.

"He's like a son to me," Sullivan said. "I love that kid. I'm really proud of him. He bought in at a time when so many kids close the doors on their academic future. So many kids never turn the corner. Derek understands the opportunity he's worked for to get to play at a program like Georgia and get a great degree."

Sullivan is a big part of that opportunity. His coaching peers are well aware of his dedication to the Jackson community and his pupils.

"I don't know if anybody goes further with his guys than Kevin," St. Augustine coach Joey Wiles said. "There are a lot of guys in coaching and not all of them have their heart for the kids. Kevin does. He doesn't brag about the things he does, but you hear it through other people."

Other people often talk about Owens' skills on the field. …

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