Welcome back to SZN Opener, CASSIUS’ sports podcast that focuses on the unique journeys of Black student athletes.
In episode four, we meet Georgia Tech defensive back Myles “Spider” Sims. The Atlanta native came out of Westlake High School as a four-star prospect and the No. 79 overall player in the nation.
Sims describes navigating the recruitment process, fighting for eligibility with the NCAA and life as a student athlete during the early days of COVID—all while learning how to cope with the fame and pressure that came along with it.
By displaying his excellence on the field as well as the classroom, Sims received dozens of offers by his senior year of high school. “I could write my ticket to any school… because of my academics,” he says. “It makes you that much more valuable.” Sims emphasizes the importance of education in getting him to where he is today. “What played a big part in my recruitment process was my academics,” he says. “That’s the most important piece, because your education is something that nobody can take from you.”
He whittled his offers down to five: Florida, Michigan, Georgia, Clemson and Alabama—all top programs in college football. He ultimately landed at the University of Michigan but transferred to Georgia Tech in 2019. “I wanted to go play in the A. Some of the best talent in the world comes from Atlanta, Georgia,” he says. What he didn’t realize at the time was the arduous process that he would have to go through with the NCAA to play at Georgia Tech.
Still, he persevered and was able to make his debut at Georgia Tech in the season-opener against then-No. 1 Clemson University. As 2020 came around, Sims hit another roadblock—COVID-19. Life as a student athlete was over as far as he knew, but Sims continued to put in the work.
“Everybody’s coming back home, you have so much talent in this one hood in Atlanta, Georgia. We’re not about to sit down forever. So all the players, we got together and went to the field. We were at the field every single day. Because there was nothing else to do,” he says. “Training, working out, cracking jokes. Enjoying our time together because we know we’re not going to have this time back ever again. Had players from all over. Had Shaq Wiggins, AJ Terrell, Trey Dean, Lee Anthony, we had players from all over who we grew up with in the same area, training to accomplish that same goal to this day.”
As many students experienced when COVID hit, Sims’ grades suffered. “It was rough academically. My GPA plummeted that year,” he says. “On the verge of being academically ineligible, trying to fight for all the points that you can at an institute like Georgia Tech, it’s hard. But you gotta find a way.”
Listen to the podcast here on the Urban One podcasts platform or your favorite streaming app.
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