Jerry Maynard, a 1983 Reidsville High School graduate, was recently named to the Winston-Salem State University Sports Hall of Fame as a football player.
Maynard’s path to the Hall of Fame was an unusual one to say the least, especially considering the first time he ever played football in his life was his senior year of high school.
A big man recruited out of the halls at Reidsville, Maynard made an impact on the field as a defensive tackle although he didn’t really think what he was doing was making a difference at the time.
“To me I didn’t think so because I had never played before and I was just learning the game. I never played anything organized. I never played pee wee - I was just learning the game,” Maynard said.
In high school, he played under former Reidsville head coach Gwynn Brooks, but he said that the coach that really made a difference in his life was the late former assistant Charles Boler.
“Coach Boler was the one that really brought me out and told me I could be something. When coach Boler had me out there, he inspired me and he gave me the fortitude to do some of the things that I did,” Maynard said.
Since he played just one year in high school, he wasn’t highly recruited, and his ticket to WSSU was a happy accident you might say.
One of his former Reidsville teammates, James Wheeler, called Maynard one Saturday morning and asked if he wanted to go to Winston-Salem State with him for a planned workout for former WSSU head football coach Bill Hayes.
After Wheeler was done, Hayes noticed Maynard, who at the time was over six feet tall and over 300 pounds sitting on the bleachers.
“After he (Wheeler) got done working out coach Hayes came over to me and asked if I wanted to work out - and I said sure. So after working out for coach Hayes he took me into his office and he offered me a full scholarship on the spot. As they say, the rest was history,” Maynard said.
At WSSU, he was converted to offensive tackle and he said making the transition to not only a new position, but also competing at the college level, was not an easy one.
“It was very difficult, but the thing from my childhood I always carried with me, is anything I put my mind to I believe I can achieve. So I just worked really hard to try to figure out what I needed to do to get on the field, and I knew I had to know my playbook, so I studied my playbook real hard and that enabled me to get on the field. I was still lacking some technique, but through the course of time I picked up, and I was able to get out there,” he said.
His combination of strength, speed and commitment laid the foundation for his playing career. For a man his size, Maynard was tremendously quick, running a 4.85 40-yard dash which set him apart from the other players and earned him playing time.
But it was his extraordinary strength that his coaches were particularly impressed by.
“Back then, I was just a country boy. You put the wagon wheels on and I’ll push ‘em up all day long,” Maynard said with a laugh.
When all was said and done, Maynard finished his collegiate career as a two-time All CIAA recipient, an NAIA All-American - and he later played in the Freedom Bowl in 1987.
Following his senior season at WSSU, he was picked up as a free agent by the Los Angeles Rams and played behind the legendary Jackie Slater.
Maynard said he felt like he was going to make the final roster, but during a blocking drill, he injured his knee. After rehabbing back in North Carolina he tried out for several teams but had lost the strength and agility in the knee which ended his NFL career.
After his playing days were over, he worked in logistics for 23 years and is now a life coach, mentoring and trying to make an impact on young people’s lives by sharing his inspiration story.