MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - It was the one, two punch to the Tigers 2020 football season. First, running back Kenneth Gainwell opted out of the season just the week before the season opener. Then, wide receiver Damonte Coxie opted out days before the Tigers took on conference rival UCF, week seven.
“I had to separate from a situation and it was time for me to move on,” Coxie explained.
Gainwell opted out after losing several family members to Covid-19. “Just talking to my family about Covid, you know my family passed away so it was a tough decision,” he said.
Both of the Tigers’ offensive weapons said the decision to opt-out was one of the hardest they’ve made their entire lives.
“Before the UCF game that definitely was tough, because I knew if I would’ve kept playing it would’ve been harder for me to leave,” Coxie said. “If I would’ve kept going I would’ve played the next game, and the next game, and the next game. It’s just a love and passion for the game it’s hard to walk off from something like that.”
However, their futures include a pro career. So they shifted to training for the upcoming NFL Draft and got both physically and mentally ready for the next level.
Gainwell said he’s worked on, “Being disciplined with just going over my film and smart on how I carry myself.”
According to Coxie he spent time working on, “Really just my speed, getting in and out of routes.”
Despite Gainwell only playing one college season, he said, “They see what I did in 2019, so I mean it isn’t too much that I can do. Only thing I can do is prepare myself for the next level and prepare myself for this Pro Day tomorrow.”
Coxie and Gainwell will participate in the Memphis football pro day alongside teammates Brady White, Riley Patterson, O’Bryan Goodson and Adam Williams. NFL scouts will be there to evaluate as the Tigers hope to make their pro dreams come true. The NFL Draft is April 29-May 1.