Even though recently graduated Eastside star Eric Stokes was working out in the same vicinity as the Eagles’ football team on Thursday — Stokes was taking laps on the track that surrounds Eastside’s practice field — the soon-to-be Georgia Bulldog wasn’t feeling much nostalgia for his high school days.
While the Eagles were getting ready for their 2017 high school football season, Stokes was trying to get in some work toward being ready to kick off his time as a college football player. The three-star defensive back prospect and track state champion paused his workouts long enough to chat with The Covington News sports editor, Gabriel Stovall about his health after injury and his excitement about moving to Athens.
STOVALL: Congratulations on graduation this past weekend. How does it feel to be an official Eastside alum now?
STOKES “Oh, it feels great actually. I mean, just knowing I don’t have to go back to school from a high school standpoint, that feels amazing.”
STOVALL: You’re out here running and working out on the track. Is this just you trying to get ready to report to Athens and hit the ground running?
STOKES: Yeah. Hopefully some time next week I’ll report. The coach hasn’t told me yet, so I’m waiting for the call. But for now, I’m just trying to get in shape, since after (the track and field state meet) I took three weeks off. So I’m trying to get my body back in shape, so that about time I report, I mean I know I’m gonna die when I get there, but I figure I’d might as well be in better shape than I was so it won’t hurt so much when I start working out there.”
STOVALL: So are you looking for some immediate playing time or would you be okay with a redshirt season?
STOKES: I’m trying to contend to get on the field early. That’s just me as a competitor. I’m not going to settle for anything. I’m not going to settle for a redshirt or nothing. I’m just gonna work my tail off so I can see the field.”
STOVALL: You’ve got a former crosstown rival in Newton’s J.J. Holloman already down there making strides. How often do you guys talk about teaming up as Bulldogs?
STOKES: “We talk whenever we see each other in public. We’ll talk about it in public. But other than that, that’s pretty much it. But, yeah, we’re real cool with each other and everything.”
STOVALL: The college life is almost a reality for you now. What are you most excited about regarding your soon relocation to Athens?
STOKES: “I’m really ready to be around new people and just to meet new people. I’m looking forward to being able to have fun and basically get ready to start a whole new life up there.
STOVALL: Last question for you. We know that you’ve been a little banged up since the end of the football season, and even the end of track season. How’s your body feeling now?
STOKES: “Well, I messed up my hamstring, the week before we went to state. We were at practice, and I just messed it up, and it sucked big time because I wanted to be full speed. I Thought I’d be fine when state came around but it wasn’t. But the time off, it really did help. Now I can feel myself running way, way faster than I did three weeks ago.”