A Trojan Fights On, Flies Like an Eagle

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PHILADELPHIA, PA - DECEMBER 13: Nelson Agholor #17 of the Philadelphia Eagles celebrates his touchdown against the Buffalo Bills during the second quarter at Lincoln Financial Field on December 13, 2015 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

The development of Nelson Agholor began at a nationally recognized school, where you saw the birth of a mighty Trojan. Soaring high as a young, coveted Eagle, Agholor, in the upper echelon of Philadelphia’s corps of wide receivers, is thrilled he’s strapping on his helmet and tightening up his gloves for his first-ever Super Bowl.

Fight On?

Fly, Nelson. Fly.

That’s what happened this season when Agholor, the Eagles’ first-round pick in 2015, fought through adversity and underwent a significant transformation from being average to top flight. The nastiest and rowdiest folks booed him, jeered at him and berated him for enduring his lumps in recent memory.

By being part of the Eagles, Agholor was met with boos when his name was called during pregame introductions, then booed some more when he dropped passes, but he wasn’t pelted with snowballs or chased out of town by an angry mob of Eagle diehards.

For once, he was greeted by exultant cheers from boorish, insane Eagle fans. This season, in one particular game, Agholor hauled in an acrobatic catch, and tapped both of his toes in the far corner of the end zone. Sounds familiar?

He wasn’t always the fastest guy, but he was a marquee star at USC, where athletic and supernatural talent is produced, then held to higher standards. When he ran his routes across the field on numerous plays at Southern California, he grabbed the ball out of the air to make sensational catches with his quick hands.

The thing is, Agholor couldn’t get acclimated to the pros when he had finally left school to make that transition. One who took it upon himself to veer off into a new path, after vowing he’d battle his demons, Agholor took a vicious hit that snapped him back into reality, rose back to his feet and let the results speak for itself this season.

A couple of years after struggling both mentally and emotionally, the Eagles caught a glimpse of Agholor the more he played. It was the start of a tremendous season for the slot receiver, catching 62 passes for 768 yards. He reeled in three snugs for 59 yards, including a 42-yard play in the Eagles’ 38-7 win over the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC Championship Game.

There was an upswing in his game, and some big plays, and now he’s a star when he’s on the field. It has been just over several months since he was counseled by Curtis Conway, the former USC star who was the seventh player chosen in the 1993 NFL draft.

Agholor is in touch with Conway on a daily basis to break down his film. It was Agholor who sought out Conway, starting up conversations about getting on the right track, going into training and the 2017-18 season. For Conway, he’s challenging a young wideout to stay motivated and devote his time to in-depth preparations. By this point, Agholor has turned to his mentor for support and the talks they’ve had apparently benefited him as he polished up his game.

Nearly every day brings a new experience for Agholor and playing in Super Bowl LII is one of the coolest. He’s enjoying a career season with the Eagles, so much that he’s still trying to process it, filled with delight over his turnaround. He succeeded under the influence of his parents who instilled the work ethic needed to go beyond what was required of him. With an emphasis on hard work and accountability, Agholor kept his mind on quelling the fear of not measuring up to his strengths as a wide receiver.

The fourth of five kids, Agholor grew up in a three-bedroom bungalow in Tampa, raised by his parents. He wasn’t raised in a house. Or even in a 16-bedroom mansion. He was born in Lagos, Nigeria, where his father, Felix, was a soccer player. A strong upbringing has helped kept things in prospective and shaped him into a breakout star in Philly.

If there’s one thing that sticks out about Agholor, it’s mentality and, with that, he’s come a long way and has earned the trust of fans. No matter how many ups and downs he endured in the past few seasons, he took it in stride and never stopped believing in his abilities.

There was a cloud of uncertainty hanging over him, but it’s clear he has been a force to reckon with, someone who is showing off his ridiculous athleticism. There was a small blemish on his resume from the past two seasons, but it’s transparent that he’s a key element to the Eagles’ offense. He was enveloped in anonymity, but now he’s not hidden in a concoon.

Bouncing back has been a strength this season for Agholor and the Eagles. In his first two seasons, he compiled a combined 59 passes for just three touchdowns which gave Philly fans plenty to get frustrated over, but now he’s satisfying his fans and silencing his critics. For as productive of a season he’s having, being part of a team that has the full allotment of weapons to fly with Tom Brady and the Patriots’ potent offense on Sunday, Agholor is riding a wave of confidence.

Much pressure is off his back now that he’s playing as a slot receiver in the evolution of the Eagles’ receiving game, behind star receivers Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith. The loss of Eagles’ Carson Wentz was devastating and, in the aftermath of their quarterback’s season-ending injury, they were tagged with the underdog label and have embraced the role every time they took the field.

And because Agholor is making significant contributions throughout the season, the Eagles are fighting on as he’s flying high.

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