Erick Wren believes you can achieve whatever you set your mind to, even if you struggle with learning differences.
The starting center was a big part of the Oklahoma Sooners’ push for a national college football championship this season. Yet, Wren came to No. 2 Oklahoma without a scholarship. And he took an unlikely path.
Wren found out he had a in grade school. He was told he wouldn’t be able to keep up academically with other students, according to an interview with NewsOK.
But Wren refused to accept that he couldn’t succeed in school. “I just believe I can do it,” he told his parents. “I believe I can do the same work that other people do.”
With faith in himself and God, Wren went on to graduate from high school. He was also a star football player. However, his combined grades and SAT score didn’t meet the academic requirements to play Division I college football.
Wren decided to attend junior college at Western Arizona. There, Wren studied hard, believing that one day he would play football for a Division I school. That opportunity came when he transferred to the University of Oklahoma.
“My attitude, it’s always driven me,” Wren told NewsOK. “Dealing with those classes, I didn’t want to be last.”
After transferring, Wren walked on to the Oklahoma football team without a scholarship. Soon his work ethic and athleticism got the attention of his teammates and coaches. He earned the position of starting center and became a fan favorite.
To the cheers of teammates, he was also awarded a scholarship for his team contributions. You can see the touching moment in the video below.
Last week, Oklahoma fell just short of the national championship game with a double overtime loss to Georgia in the Rose Bowl. (Georgia will play Alabama this Monday, January 8, for the top prize.)
Despite the loss, Wren is still living his college dream. He credits his parents’ unwavering support for his success in school and in sports.
“That’s all I could ask for was just to support me,” he said in the interview. “Both my parents really supported me and drove me to this moment.”
Learn more about different types of colleges, like junior college. And check out more stories of successful athletes with learning and thinking differences, including NFL player with a learning disability Garett Bolles.
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Tara Drinks is an associate editor at Understood.