By RYAN HERMAN
Cedric Herndon will be the first to admit he’s made mistakes, so much so that those mistakes became the only thing people said he’d be known for.
Herndon, a former Lincolnton High running back who played on its 2007 state 2A championship team, has shaken his former life of mistakes and bad choices to make his dreams of playing professional football a reality.
Herndon tried out on Saturday –– his 24th birthday –– for the upstart Atlanta-based Georgia Stealth, one of six indoor football teams that make up the newly-formed X-League.
It didn’t take long for him to show he belonged.
“I used to be bad. A lot of people were telling me, ‘You’ll never amount to anything,’ and ‘You’re not capable of (playing professional football)’ because I had such a bad reputation of being a bad guy in school, because I was. I used to get suspended all the time,” Herndon said.
“The people that told me that, I just fed off of it and I kept going.”
Due to a lack of credits Herndon didn’t get to graduate with the class of 2008, but he did stay the course and finished school.
He never went to college, but found a home with the Catawba County Hornets, a semi-pro football team based in Newton.
After three seasons with the Hornets from 2010-12, Herndon is now preparing himself for the inaugural season of the X-League, which begins in March.
“All the people that said I couldn’t do it, I’m saying, ‘Look at me now,’” Herndon said.
Herndon said when he turned 21 he finally realized it was time to clean up his act.
His family –– his biggest supporters, Herndon said –– told him that he needed to put his potential to use, so he did.
Three years later, he’s fulfilling his dream of playing the sport he loves professionally.
“If you keep going for your dreams and never give up, anything’s possible,” Herndon said. “Keep God first at all times, never give up, and you can do anything you put your mind to.”
Five months ago Herndon and his fiancée –– now his wife –– moved to Atlanta, he said, and he joined a nationally-ranked semi-pro team called the Georgia Bandits. And he immediately made an impact.
Herndon said he started at running back for the Bandits –– something he hadn’t done since starting at North Lincoln as a junior in high school, he said –– and that got him a tryout with the Stealth.
Herndon, whose full-time job is a security officer at the Mall of Georgia in Atlanta, may have taken the road less traveled, but he made it.
“I knew I messed up so I had to do something about it. So I did something about it,” he said. “Things happen for a reason. God put me in that position and in that predicament at that time to bring me out and to bring me up. He had to make me see that, yeah, you can struggle and you can mess up, but you can also turn it around.”
Not only will Herndon make his professional debut with the Stealth, but he and his wife are also expecting their first child and he has a meeting scheduled for February with the B.C. Lions of the Canadian Football League, he said.
All because he decided to make things better for himself.
“I wasn’t always good but look where I’m at. You can’t tell me anything’s not possible because it is,” Herndon said. “A lot of people told me I wouldn’t be playing pro ball but I am.”