SPOTLIGHT: Sawyer Leads By Example

OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM Charles Sawyer
OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM
Charles Sawyer
OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM

Sept. 19, 2012

By Lauren McMillin
Ole Miss Athletics Media Relations

Maurice Flanagan once said, “Some are born leaders, some achieve leadership, and some have leadership thrust upon them.” For Charles Sawyer, achieving leadership has been a work in progress since his first day as a Rebel.

As an underclassman, this talented defensive back looked up to older players. Now as a junior, Sawyer finds himself in a leadership role for the young Rebel defense.  Just as former players encouraged him, Sawyer now relishes the role of encouraging his teammates through example.  For him, it’s all about having a positive attitude and never giving up.

From his early days as an athlete, Sawyer looked up to role models for leadership and inspiration. “I started playing football at the age of six,” Sawyer said. “My dad inspired me to play. It wasn’t really a love for me at first, then I started getting into it, and I fell in love with it. From then until now, it’s just been a big part of me.”

Ole Miss gave Sawyer that first step toward success. “Out of all of the schools, Ole Miss was probably the closest,” said Sawyer, who comes from Miami, Fla. “Everywhere else was all these cold, far places. Ole Miss is still pretty far, but it’s the atmosphere and the people here. It just felt like home.”

Sawyer saw drastic differences between the big city and the charming size of Oxford.

“They’re totally different,” he said. “The tradition here is different. Miami doesn’t have a lot of tradition.” While he misses family and friends back home, the University’s ongoing tradition and Southern hospitality convinced Sawyer that Ole Miss was the right choice. “I like how small it is and how everybody knows you,” he said. “People are so nice. I guess that everybody wants you to know that they are a fan. It’s pretty cool.”

Having supportive fans is a major part of achieving greatness, and Sawyer believes that Ole Miss has that. “We’ve always had a fan base, but since Coach Freeze came, and since all the players are starting to gel together, it seems like the fans are doing the same thing, every single one,” Sawyer said. “I thought it would be too late to realize that, but everything’s happening for a reason. Everything’s happening at the right time.”

In 2011 Sawyer was selected as a finalist for the Conerly Trophy, an award that goes to the top football player in the state of Mississippi. “It meant a lot,” he said. “I’m not even from here and for them to want me to represent Mississippi as one of its best players, it was a big honor, and I loved it.”

Sawyer’s talent also got him noticed on a national level. Named All-American honorable mention in 2011, Sawyer started all 12 games, finishing third in the SEC with 13 passes defended. In addition, he tied for 23rd in the nation and sixth in the SEC with four interceptions.  Sawyer finished the 2011 season second on the team with 70 tackles.

Success has inspired Sawyer to keep moving forward and improve. His goals are simple.  “I want to be an all around good football player,” he said. “I want to be a team player and to do better than I did last year, always progressing to be better. I know not to be satisfied with what I’ve done and to go far and beyond what I’ve done.”

Sawyer encourages his teammates to strive for greatness, as well. “Compete for 60 minutes and never give up. Give back to the fans, to Ole Miss, and what they’ve done for us,” he said.  

Adjusting to the role of a leader has allowed Sawyer to discover his gift for guiding others and to embrace the responsibility that comes along with it.

“It feels good. It takes a lot of responsibility, but once you take that role, you can’t back away from it. You have to keep going and lead by example, show everybody the right way and show everybody that if we’re down one game, don’t give up.”

Knowing the importance of perseverance is a valuable asset that Sawyer holds as he faces the future.  Just as he pushes his teammates to never give up in a game, Sawyer hopes to keep playing football for awhile. “I love playing ball,” he said. “I love seeing little kids with my jersey on. I love seeing all the fans and my family in the stands. I love doing it.”

Having such a strong passion for the game and a positive outlook are qualities that Sawyer believes other athletes should have, as well. “Enjoy the game,” he said. “It’s not a job if you love it, and if you love it, then you just do it. Always stay positive, and always look forward. Never look at what happened in the past, just look forward and do the best you can do all the time.”

Whether looking ahead to the next game or the next year, Sawyer’s optimistic perspective will surely lead him toward greatness.  Just as he looked up to the players before him, Sawyer has earned his place as a leader among his teammates, driving them to persevere, no matter the circumstances. “Keep fighting,” he said. “Keep fighting, and just see what happens at the end of the game.”



Ole Miss Gear
    Facebook
    Twitter
    • Loading Tweets...
      1 second ago
    Blog
    • The Season: Ole Miss Football Episode 12

      Wednesday, November 26, 2014 - Football

      The Season: Ole Miss Football - Episode 12 - Arkansas (2014) from Ole Miss Rebels on Vimeo.... read more

    • Wommack, Rebels Prep for Prescott

      Wednesday, November 26, 2014 - Football

      Battling injury, junior quarterback Dak Prescott came off the bench and helped rally Mississippi State to a come-from-behind 17-10 win in last year's Egg Bowl. He led a drive that ended with the game-tying field goal at 10-10 and then... read more

    • Rebels Not Lacking Motivation in Rivalry Matchup

      Tuesday, November 25, 2014 - Football

      Head coach Hugh Freeze called the Egg Bowl the most prized possession of this university's football program, and getting the Egg Bowl back should be enough motivation for his team entering Saturday's game against Mississippi State.  An Independence, Mississippi, native,... read more

    • Ole Miss Athletics Week in Review (Nov. 17-23, 2014)

      Monday, November 24, 2014 -

      Ole Miss Athletics Week in ReviewNov. 17-23, 2014Men's Basketball- Ole Miss posted a 2-0 mark last week with wins over Southern University and Northern Arizona as part of the Emerald Coast Classic, improving to 3-1 on the season.- Ole Miss... read more

    • Golson Named Finalist for Conerly Trophy

      Monday, November 24, 2014 - Football

      Senior cornerback Senquez Golson, one of five finalists for the Bronco Nagurski Award, which honors the national defensive player of the year, will represent Ole Miss as one of 10 finalists for the C Spire Conerly Trophy, which honors the... read more

    • Observations from the Best Seat in the House -- Nov. 23

      Sunday, November 23, 2014 - Athletics

      It's that busy time of the year with the Ole Miss football, volleyball, men's and women's basketball teams all in action. Here are some thoughts and opinions on the week that was in Ole Miss sports:- A slow start (17-0... read more

    • Rebels Unable to Overcome Slow Start

      Saturday, November 22, 2014 - Football

      FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- Arkansas jumped out to a 17-0 in the first quarter and took advantage of six Ole Miss turnovers on the way to a 30-0 shutout win Saturday in Fayetteville."I was concerned all week, for whatever reason, that... read more

    • Three and Out: Keys to Ole Miss-Arkansas

      Saturday, November 22, 2014 - Football

      Three areas to watch as No. 8 Ole Miss travels to Arkansas in its final road game of the regular season Saturday. Slowing the Hogs' Ground Attack The extra week of preparation, defensive coordinator Dave Wommack said, should prove beneficial... read more

    • Rebels Ahead of Schedule in Year Three

      Thursday, November 20, 2014 - Football

      It's sometimes easy to forget where the Ole Miss football program was just three short years ago, when Hugh Freeze was interviewing for the head coaching position. The Rebels had won just two games in 2011 and had lost 14... read more

    • Ole Miss Athletics Week in Review (Nov. 10-16, 2014)

      Monday, November 17, 2014 - Athletics

      Ole Miss Athletics Week in ReviewNov. 10-16, 2014Women's Basketball- The Ole Miss women's basketball team opened up the 2014-15 season with two wins over the weekend. The Rebels took down Grambling 92-67 in the season opener on Friday and followed... read more

    • Observations from the Best Seat in the House -- Nov. 16

      Sunday, November 16, 2014 - Athletics

      The Ole Miss football team was off, but it was a busy week in Ole Miss athletics nevertheless, as the men's and women's basketball teams opened their respective seasons. Here are some thoughts and opinions on the week that was:-... read more

    • Getting Healthy, Staying Sharp on the Bye Week

      Friday, November 14, 2014 - Football

      No. 10 Ole Miss was without several starters and regular contributors against Presbyterian, and many others were limited.  But given an extra week of rest, head coach Hugh Freeze said he expects everyone, with the exception of the players out... read more

    • The Season: Ole Miss Football Episode 11

      Wednesday, November 12, 2014 - Football

      The Season: Ole Miss Football - Episode 11 - Presbyterian (2014) from Ole Miss Rebels on Vimeo.... read more

    • Ole Miss Athletics Week in Review (Nov. 3-9, 2014)

      Monday, November 10, 2014 - Athletics

      Ole Miss Athletics Week in ReviewNov. 3-9, 2014Football- Ole Miss took a break from the rugged Southeastern Conference and earned a 48-0 shutout win over Presbyterian on Saturday.- It was the Rebels' first shutout since beating Tulane 39-0 in 2012.-... read more

    • Observations from the Best Seat in the House - Nov. 9

      Sunday, November 9, 2014 - Football

      Austin Miller handled all of this week's edition of the Observations from the Best Seat in the House. Check out what he had to say below:- The nation's best scoring defense finally got its first shutout of the season, as... read more