Special day for Troup’s Mwikuta
Published 8:12 pm Tuesday, October 16, 2018
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
He knew there was work to do.
Tanner Glisson arrived as Troup High’s new head football coach late in the spring of 2015, and after getting a lay of the land, he faced the realization that the team was not quite ready for prime time.
Glisson was encouraged in one respect, though.
Troup had a talented and committed group of incoming freshmen who he believed would be the foundation of the team for years to come.
One of those players was King Mwikuta, who at the time was a soon-to-be ninth-grader who Glisson sensed had the potential to be a special player.
He was right.
Mwikuta wasn’t on the varsity roster during that difficult 2015 season when the Tigers went 1-9.
As Glisson laid the ground work for the 2016 season, though, he was counting on Mwikuta to not only play, but become an impact performer.
Mwikuta fulfilled his coach’s expectation that season, and beyond.
Mwikuta is now a senior linebacker, and he has developed into one of the state’s best players.
With that level of success come the accolades, and Mwikuta has received plenty of those.
One of those honors came courtesy of Under Armour, which puts together an All-American team each year.
The players who are selected get together for an all-star game each year, it will be in Orlando on Jan. 3.
Representatives from Under Armour hold ceremonies at the schools of each of the All-Americans, and they were at Troup High on Tuesday morning.
With his teammates and coaches there to share the moment with him, Mwikuta was presented with an All-American jersey.
It was an impactful moment for Mwikuta, who has helped the Tigers go from a one-win team in 2015, to one that is considered to be a state-championship contender this year.
“Number one, the thing that describes King is, he was a self-made man,” Glisson said. “I like those guys. Nobody gave him anything. He never asked for a handout. He’s always been a hard-worker. He’s really created a lot of this for himself. He’s had a good support system. I don’t want to discredit that. But he’s just a guy who set his sights on his dream, and now he’s fulfilling that dream.”
Mwikuta said “it feels pretty special” to be recognized as one of the top high-school players in the United States.
“I woke up this morning, and I was pretty excited about it,” Mwikuta said. “I thought, I’m really doing this. It’s a blessing, because I never thought I’d be here.”
Mwikuta wanted to make the ceremony about the team, and not just him.
He invited all of his teammates, as well as his coaches, to be there on Tuesday morning.
After Mwikuta got his jersey, he called his teammates to the stage where they stood with him for a photo opportunity.
“From where we came from, they were with me before I was even an Under Armour All-American,” Mwikuta said. “They were with me, so why not honor them, and let them be here. I look at it is, they were with me from the beginning, so they’ll be with me now.”
Glisson said that team-first attitude exemplifies the kind of person Mwikuta is.
“You can see today how he wanted to have this presentation with his teammates, what kind of character he has,” Glisson said. “He wanted to celebrate with his teammates.”
Mwikuta has, at the most, eight more high-school games to play, and that’s if Troup makes it to the state-championship game.
At some point within the next few months, Mwikuta’s time as a Troup football player will be done, and his next stop will be the University of Alabama.
“We’re going to really miss him,” Glisson said. “He was here the first day I walked in the door. It seems like he’s been here a long time. But we’re excited. It’s time for him, when this season’s over with, to go ahead and move on to the next chapter. It’s going to be really fun. It’s going to be exciting to see him play. Me and my family, we’re going to get down and watch him play.”
Wherever he is, Mwikuta will continue to adhere to an unflinching work ethic that has carried him this far.
“It’s how hard you want it,” Mwikuta said. “Are you doing to work for it, or are you going to be average?”
From Glisson’s standpoint, there is nothing average about Mwikuta, who has overcome some fairly sizeable obstacles in his life to become a success story.
Among those hurdles for Mwikuta was the death of his mother when he was 7-years-old, and he has been raised by his grandmother Yvonne since then.
“He had every reason to fail, and give up, or be frustrated, or listen to the wrong advice,” Glisson said. “And he stayed the course. We put a plan together, and he agreed to it, and we held him accountable. And I can’t say enough good things about him. He’s just a great, great success story. And it’s not over.”
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