By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN — Nosa Eguae likes pounding on running backs and quarterbacks. But when it comes to helping kids and volunteer work, he's an old softie.
The Auburn defensive end showed that again this year when he spent time at the Pine Hills Literacy Project, an after-school program in Lee County for students in the first through sixth grades.
Eguae has impressed on the football field with 78 career tackles and 31 starts in three years, but he has done good work outside of the spotlight as well.
"I've been blessed with an awesome platform and I'm going to use it to reach out, whether it be to one person or 50 or 100," he says. "That's something that I'm passionate about and something that is big to me. I was raised in a family that it was always about others. It wasn't about self."
The senior from Mansfield, Texas made an impression on the young kids in the Pine Hills program.
"Nosa was wonderful with the children. The kids really took to him," said Anne Daniels, co-founder of the Pine Hills program with former White House press secretary Robert Gibbs. "The kids were a little more hyper than usual to impress him."
Eguae said he still got the message through.
"Some of them were trying to act a little too cool when it comes to reading, but when I showed up I told them that reading is cool. We have fun and enjoy the time together," he said.
"Just being able to talk to the kids and read books with them was big. Being an athlete is great, but learning the skills of reading and writing are the most important.
"I've always been a part of some awesome schools and awesome programs that could influence," he said.
Eguae says he understands he can be a role model. "Anytime I saw a college athlete or a pro athlete, I always looked up to them."
Eguae is among current or former Auburn athletes, including Cam Netwon, who have given time to Pine Hills.
Eguae is also active in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and says he appreciates "being given an opportunity to speak in front of big crowds and little crowds. "
Eguae said C.J. Uzomah and Jonathan Wallace are among Auburn players who will volunteer for other projects this summer.
"It's important to reach kids who are close to our age who do need to hear our story," he said.