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September 19, 2012

Superstar NFL agent offers insight to 2012 football squad

By: Jimmy Robertson

Classes didn’t start at Virginia Tech until Aug. 27. But members of the football team got an education on an array of topics weeks before the university’s official start date of classes.

In an effort to be proactive, Tech head coach Frank Beamer and his staff brought in speakers, some from on campus and some from off, to discuss topics like academics, parking, social media, and alcohol and drugs. But the most noticeable of the group was NFL super agent Joel Segal, who came to Blacksburg to impart his knowledge on the subject of agents.

Most Tech fans know about Segal, who has negotiated contracts for some of the biggest names in the NFL, including Randy Moss, Reggie Bush, Terrell Suggs, Percy Harvin and Chris Johnson. He also represents former Tech players Michael Vick, DeAngelo Hall, Josh Morgan and David Wilson. In the past, he represented former Tech players Cornell Brown, Antonio Freeman and Keion Carpenter. Thus, his connection with Tech gave him instant credibility among the 2012 crop of Hokies.

Segal delivered several messages to the Hokies during a 10-minute speech. But his most poignant message went to Tech’s juniors, and in reality, it was a simple one to those thinking about leaving school early and declaring for the NFL Draft.

Stop thinking about it and play football.

“When a player is going into his junior season and is a good player, he needs to focus on the season ahead,” Segal said. “There is nothing a player can gain by spending time with agents and thinking about what they are going to do after the season. Performing well during the season is the vehicle you want to use to succeed.”

Segal used Wilson, who set the school’s single-season rushing record last season, as an example. He had never met Wilson until last December after the regular season because Wilson wanted to focus on the season and getting better. In December, Segal met with Wilson and Wilson’s parents.

“He [Wilson] told me, ‘These are my people, these are my family, the people you’re going to have to get by first,’” Segal said. “He wanted me to go through his parents, and I would advise that to anyone.”

Segal also delivered strong words in regards to agents who try to cheat. Some agents approach student-athletes with benefits, such as cash or cars or free dinners, in an attempt to get that student-athlete to sign with him or her. The NCAA has strong rules against such shenanigans, which could result in a student-athlete losing eligibility or worse.

“If they’re willing to cheat now, then they’re going to cheat you when you sign with them in some way,” Segal told the team. “Please don’t let them embarrass you guys or your team or this university. It’s not worth it.”

Segal warned the players about getting in trouble off the field. He has seen players get in trouble for drinking and driving and for possession of marijuana. He told the team that the end result for such vices isn’t worth it.

“One drink is too much in a car,” he told the team. “And weed is just stupid. It’s terrible. You can get caught even if you’re not smoking. I’ve had a guy who got into a car and his friend had weed in the car, and then my guy gets in trouble because he didn’t know.

“So be careful. Positives [positive drug tests] are going to get you in trouble. Forget football, just in real life. These days, all the records go everywhere. It’ll be hard to get a job when you’re older, so be careful on that.”

In addition, he warned the players about others starting fights with them, and he told them to be careful about what they tweet on Twitter. He and Reggie Bush came up with a rule – Bush has to count to 10 before he presses the button to tweet something.

After the speech, Segal met with some of the players individually to answer various questions, and he was happy to do that. He considers Beamer and John Ballein, the associate AD for football operations, good friends, along with current whip linebackers coach Cornell Brown.

“I’ve represented players as far back as Tyronne Drakeford and Antonio Freeman,” Segal said. “I’ve got a long history of representing some great guys from Virginia Tech. They turn out great, great people here.

“I look at the players from here that I’ve represented when they’re playing football and they’ve not only become good players, but they’ve also become successful family men, successful businessmen … and I think that says a lot for the program.”