EDUCATION THE KEY
- By John Antonik
- May 09, 2011 07:07 PM
Lorenzo Styles was a three-year starter at offensive guard for West Virginia University from 1990-92. Today, he is an assistant principal at Miami Carol City High School.
Styles returned to campus recently to take part in the luncheon honoring retiring associate athletic director Garrett Ford at the Morgantown Events Center.
“Garrett Ford has definitely been a special person to me,” Styles explained. “He was a gentleman that did something that my father and mother probably couldn’t do and that was get me through college. Having that connection and that father figure here on campus meant leaps and bounds for me.”
Styles was part of a wave of South Florida players brought to WVU in the late 1980s and early 1990s under former coach Don Nehlen.
After suffering through some shoulder problems early in his career, Styles became a fixture on a formidable offensive line that included consensus All-American center Mike Compton. The duo paved the way for running back Adrian Murrell to achieve 1,000 yards rushing in 1992 during a year in which an unfortunate bench clearing brawl in the Syracuse game was mishandled by the officiating crew and the loss to the Orange ultimately kept West Virginia from making a trip to a bowl game during Styles’ senior season.
The Mountaineers were 5-4-2 in 1992 with ties against Miami, Ohio and Boston College and wins against Pitt, Maryland and Virginia Tech.
Styles and Compton were nearly inseparable during their WVU playing days before Compton went on to have a successful professional career with the Detroit Lions, New England Patriots and Jacksonville Jaguars.
“I’m still trying to get Mike on Facebook, but we do talk and that was a special relationship for me while I was here, definitely,” said Styles. “We were involved in a lot of battles while we were here and we still keep in touch.”
Styles, an athletic director’s honor roll recipient and a member of the 4.0 club during his Mountaineer playing career, was also pleased to catch up with his former coach prior to the Ford luncheon.
“It’s outstanding that I’ve been away from this campus for about 22 years and my head coach still knows who I am, to know me personally, and ask me how I’m doing … my mom and I would talk about the time when he came to recruit me in Miami, it was special,” Styles said.
Today, as an educator and a molder of young people, Styles has become a living testament to the value of receiving a college education.
“Obtaining my degree has had an outstanding effect on my family,” he said. “My sister has graduated from college and now has a master’s, and it changes your whole life once you get that first degree in the family. It sets like a wild fire, so my life has totally changed from that one meeting with Coach Ford.”
Styles is now working on Robert Sands to return to WVU to finish up his coursework to earn his diploma. Sands chose to leave school a year early to enter the recently completed 2011 NFL draft where he was subsequently taken in the fifth round by the Cincinnati Bengals.
“Robert Sands was a special kid to me,” Styles said. “When I came to Miami Carol City as assistant football coach and administrative assistant he was on the team. As you can see, he has outstanding potential and he was always very special; hard working, and when his decision came down as far as what college to go to I definitely had some insight on telling him about my history here at West Virginia University, how great the fans are, how great of an opportunity it was for him to come here and all of the support.
“You talk about Garrett Ford, I know him personally, and I knew he would make sure that Robert graduated,” Styles added. “I’ll tell him he’s got to come back and finish. He needs to finish the job that he started. I know he’s going to get it together on his NFL situation, but we definitely need him to get back and get his degree.”
West Virginia University Mountaineers