CHARLOTTE – Before the start of their game Sunday at Bank of America Stadium, the Carolina Panthers took time to honor a group of high school football players from across the Carolinas.
Newton-Conover lineman Mikey Comer was among them.
Comer was at the stadium Sunday before kickoff on a stage in the west end of the field. His name was called over the public address system and his face on the giant screen as one of the Carolina Panthers’ Community Captains.
But he wasn’t worried at first about receiving the award or the thought of all the people in the stands looking at him as he walked up a ramp to the top of the small stage.
“Mainly, don’t trip,” Comer said when asked what he thought about the ceremony. “That was definitely a big one going up there. Then give a big smile.
“It felt awesome. I’ve never been in front of that many people, and it was really cool to be in front of all those people and get an award.”
He said the atmosphere was similar to stepping on the field Friday nights at Gurley Stadium – except this had a lot more people.
Comer was selected as a Community Captain almost a month ago for his play on the field and his activities off the field. The senior lineman has an unweighted GPA higher than 3.5, and he volunteered during the summer at an animal shelter in Catawba County. The senior, who is being recruited by four small colleges, also anchored the Red Devils’ offensive line in 2010 and was the only returning starter at that position.
“When you have one of yours standing up on that stage, it’s more a feeling of pride than anything else,” Newton-Conover head coach Nick Bazzle said. “As long as I’ve known him, he has been a leader – not just on the football field but in the classroom and life. We’re just proud of him.”
Comer also received some parting gifts after the brief pre-game ceremony. The Panthers gave him an authentic game jersey with his name on the back, an autographed football, and a hat. Comer jokingly said he could not wear the jersey to school Monday because it’s too small. Instead, he wants it framed and plans to put the ball in a glass case.
“This is something not everybody gets to experience, and I’m just glad I got to,” Comer said. “This is probably a once in a lifetime experience, and I’m just trying to soak it all in.”