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 Benjamin Russell graduate Terrell Owens, left, runs a route against Za Stowes during Tuesday's spring practice.

Almost every team across the state of Alabama has started to don their football helmets and take to their fields for spring practice.

Although they all have that in common, there’s one thing most Alabama football teams don’t have — a Pro Football Hall of Famer in attendance. But Benjamin Russell was graced with the presence of Terrell Owens.

“You get a Hall of Famer that comes and stops by your practice, it’s a pretty cool thing,” BRHS coach Kevin Smith said.

Owens, a Benjamin Russell graduate and Alexander City native, is in town for his great aunt’s 90th birthday party and said he wanted to see how his alma mater was faring. So he climbed the hill he climbed many times as a high school player to stop by Benjamin Russell’s second spring practice of the year.

“I just wanted to be up here and be around them and give them some motivation and inspiration,” Owens said. “I just want to encourage them. This is where I started from. I remember going through these same spring camps, and little did I know that I would end up where my career has taken me. It’s just a matter of coming back and giving these kids some motivation to know the have the same opportunity that I did.” 

Owens’ visit to Benjamin Russell’s practice wasn’t planned. According to Smith, the six-time Pro Bowler just stopped by but proceeded to insert himself into practice, talking with the kids about routes and techniques and also discussing with Smith and the coaching staff about some specific routes and coverages.

“I think he gave us some energy,” Smith said. “He speaks to them from such a vast experience. He’s taken some passes from some legends, and he’s a legend himself. It’s wonderful to be able to have him stop by and talk to them.”

Owens has two nephews on the current BRHS squad — Za Stowes and Kaleb Stowes — and in addition to wanting to support his kin, Owens also said he wants to help his former squad achieve as well as be an inspiration to the current Wildcats.

“This is just a matter of me trying to give back,” Owens said. “This is an opportunity for kids to stay active, play a sport that they love and who knows? You never know what can become of any of these kids that are here at spring practice and trying to play beyond the high school level. If they have the aspirations to do that, then they have the opportunity to do it.” 

Lizi Arbogast is the sports editor at Tallapoosa Publishers, Inc.