Showing up to workouts with a trio of NFL greats in the midst of a sweltering Georgia summer wearing sweatpants was hard to live down for then seventh grader Carl Lawson.
Lawson’s father, a former fullback at Georgia Tech, arranged for his son to join Takeo Spikes, Hines Ward and Jamal Lewis for workouts at XPE Sports Academy.
The group had an instant nickname for the aspiring middle school athlete.
“It’s damn near 100 degrees, and he’s wearing sweatpants,” Spikes said. “We were like ‘man, what in the hell are you doing?’ ”
The former Auburn linebacker was in town Thursday night at Halftime bar and grill for a meet-and-greet with fans in connection with the Allstate Sugar Bowl. He signed autographs and helped give away five pairs of tickets to the New Year’s Six bowl game.
Spikes laughed at the memory of Lawson, who ended up shedding the ‘sweatpants’ nickname as a standout prospect at Milton High School.
“He disappeared for like two years, then next thing I know his 10th grade year they say this man is a beast,” Spikes said. “We looked him up and we were like, ‘that’s sweatpants!’ Everybody else knew him as Carl Lawson.”
Spikes, an accomplished collegiate defender who went on to a 15-year NFL career, sees a bright future for Lawson.
Lawson is likely to forgo his final year of eligibility to enter this year’s NFL draft. The fourth-year junior participated in Senior Day activities before Auburn’s final home game against Alabama A&M.
Spikes anticipates the borderline first-rounder will shoot up NFL draft boards when he gets in front of NFL scouts for combine and pre-draft workouts.
“He’ll be a test warrior,” Spikes said. “I think for Carl it’s good he stayed healthy this year. People don’t know what he can do until he’s tested that’s where he’s going to blow a lot of people up on that.”