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Faith and Football: Senior Receiver Koby Drake's Journey to Success on and off the Field

Winning seasons and making it to the NFL may be the most important things in a college football player's life, but one University of Memphis football player has a different number one priority in life. 

“He takes the same discipline and work ethic that he puts onto the football field into his love for Christ.” said Campus Outreach leader James Luecke. “He wants to make Christ known to others who do not know.” 

Koby Drake is a starting senior wide receiver for the University of Memphis football team. Fans know him as one of the Tigers most reliable and hard-working receivers on the team, but Drake spends a lot of his time outside of football building a relationship with Jesus Christ and having an impact leading by example. 

"Outside of football, I try to stay in the word to hear from God and spend time in prayer to talk to God,” said Drake. “This helps me build a relationship where Christ guides my footsteps.” 

People around Koby admire his work ethic and how his faith in God reflects in everything he does. However, he’s just as human as everyone else and deals with the daily challenges in life. Football is often viewed as an outlet for players when going through tough times, but for him, he feels his faith in Christ has pulled him through. He shares his life story with others to show how far he has come in his relationship. 

“God has used obstacles in my life to bring me closer to him and to prepare me for whatever he has planned,” said Drake. “During tough times I had no choice but to rely on him. Now that I look back on the trials, I see what God was teaching me and now I get to use my story for his good.” 

Talking to God and reading his word are the most important things that Koby says he must do every day. He’s also regularly in attendance at 901 live every Tuesday, which is a on campus bible study for students at the University of Memphis organized by the campus outreach program at Second Presbyterian Church.

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Drake(bottom middle) and his church group on a mission trip in 2021

According to his peers, he’s a person who shows a lot of humility and stays true to himself. 

“He’s a D1 athlete that doesn’t let all of the hype of being a college athlete get to him.” said Josh Laughlin, a sophomore at the University of Memphis who also regularly attends 901 live. “He shows up Tuesday nights, humbly introducing himself to people with a smile on his face, and it's clear he has a firm identity in Christ.” 

Drake feels as if God called him to witness and serve others. 

“I always try to serve my team and lead my team as a Godly man should. If anything, they can see God through me,” said Drake. “It is what God has called me to do, so of course it’s important to me.” 

Noah Upchurch, one of his closest friends, is also a Christian and admires his commitment and loyalty to his friends. 

“He’s a very committed and loyal person,” said Upchurch. “He’s been very committed to putting time into our friendship, and I see him buy in to not just me but all his friends and it's something I look up to him for.” 

Drake will graduate from the University of Memphis this spring, and during his time on campus he has left an impact on and off the football field. He looks forward to growing in Christ and looks to God to guide him through not only the rest of his career, but his life. 

“I dedicate all my time to God, including my time I spend on Football,” said Drake. “Following Christ doesn’t stop.” 

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