Former U of M receiver Keiwone Malone shifting focus on earning pro roster spot

MaloneWhen asked recently to assess her son’s collegiate stint, Sheila Malone deemed it necessary to allude to a super hero.

“He is and always will be Superman,” Malone said of her son, Keiwone Malone. “He has filled many roles on the team and has excelled at all them. He received the punt and made spectacular moves, scoring touchdowns and broke the high school records in Tennessee. He kicked the extra points and covered (opposing team’s) receivers. Using what gifts God has given him, he is my Superman.”

To grasp a full understanding of why Malone has dubbed her son arguably the most decorated super hero of all time, look no further than his slew of accomplishments in recent years, most notably during what was a remarkable tenure at the University of Memphis.

A native of Rosedale, Mississippi, Keiwone Malone emerged as arguably one of the best football players in the history of Memphis Mitchell High, considering he blossomed into one of Shelby-Metro’s most sought-after recruits for the Class of 2010.

Widely regarded as an “athlete” because of his versatility on both sides of the ball, Keiwone Malone was the catalyst of a Mitchell team that had become a fixture in the Class 5A playoffs for the better part of his tenure with the Tigers.

GAME CHANGER --- To his credit, Keiwone Malone is amongst the biggest reasons the Memphis program --- a doormat while enduring years of futility --- has emerged as a national standout in recent years, considering he was one of Tiger quarterback Paxton Lynch’s best options. (Photos courtesy of Memphis Athletics)

GAME CHANGER — To his credit, Keiwone Malone is amongst the biggest reasons the Memphis program — a doormat while enduring years of futility — has emerged as a national standout in recent years, considering he was one of Tiger quarterback Paxton Lynch’s best options. (Photos courtesy of Memphis Athletics)

Add to the fact that Alabama’s Nick Saban was amongst the high-profile college coaches who inquired about Keiwone Malone’s services as a four-star recruit, and it’s no wonder this do-it-all athlete still believes he possesses the skills to — what else? — do it all at the professional ranks.

Less than one year removed from having completed his eligibility at the U of M, the 24-year-old Keiwone Malone doesn’t shy away from the notion that his primary focus now is to earn a spot on a professional football roster.

“If given a chance to play professional football, I will give it my all for the (organization) every day,” Keiwone Malone told MemphiSport during a recent interview. “I’ve always had dreamt at being the best at what I do, and I want to prove to people that size doesn’t matter.”

At 5-foot-11 ½ and 168-pounds, Keiwone Malone had proven time and again that his slim frame didn’t prevent him from enjoying success while playing major college football.

To his credit, he is amongst the biggest reasons the Memphis program — a doormat while enduring years of futility — has emerged as a national standout in recent years, considering he was one of Tiger quarterback Paxton Lynch’s best options.

After transferring from Alabama to Memphis to be close to his ailing grandmother, Keiwone Malone enjoyed a stellar career for the Tigers, given his numbers progressed considerably in each of his four seasons with the program.

MOM KNOWS BEST --- When asked recently to assess her son’s collegiate stint, Sheila Malone deemed it necessary to allude to a super hero.  “He is and always will be Superman,” Malone said of her son, Keiwone Malone. “He has filled many roles on the team and has excelled at all them.

MOM KNOWS BEST — When asked recently to assess her son’s collegiate stint, Sheila Malone deemed it necessary to allude to a super hero.
“He is and always will be Superman,” Malone said of her son, Keiwone Malone. “He has filled many roles on the team and has excelled at all them.

He was especially resilient as a senior for a Memphis team that finished the 2014 campaign with seven consecutive wins (10-3), including a 55-48 double overtime win over Brigham Young in the Miami Beach Bowl.

Keiwone Malone led the Tigers in yards receiving with 45 catches for 555 yards and four touchdowns, while averaging better than 12 yards per receptions — surpassing his 44 receptions for 476 yards and three scores he registered as a sophomore.

All of which is why Lynch, a Heisman candidate who’s projected as a Top 10 pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, was extremely high on Keiwone Malone during his time with the Tigers.

All of which is why this former Tiger standout, who had proven to master major college football, believes he stills possesses the skills and mechanics to earn a paycheck at the professional ranks.

“I’m sure every mom feels their son deserves a chance, but I feel (football) is his ministry,” Shelia Malone said. “He is not complete if he is not playing football. I am his coach at home, so I am constantly giving him pep talks and keep us both prayed up. I am also constantly trying to put him in positions that can get him that chance he deserves.”

Without question, many — including Lynch — who have followed Keiwone Malone’s rise from Mitchell to appearing on a major college football stage believe he’s armed with the finesse to perform for a pro team.

The biggest question at this point is will his golden opportunity come to fruition.

Just as he played his way to earning to scholarship to play at tradition-rich Alabama, Keiwone Malone isn’t ruling out hope.

“I’m dedicated,” he said. “I work hard and I’m not one to give up or half-ass. I’m open-minded to leaning new techniques and ways of winning. I have a great sense of humor. I’m a people person. I’ve never had a coach or player since pee-wee football dislike me or my play or actions on the field. I interact well with others, and I’m a very respectful man that knows how to motivate a team to win.”

Key attributes “Superman” prays pro scouts and general managers will take into account in the foreseeable future.

 

AndreEDITOR’S NOTE: If you have a child or team that is seeking exposure and would like an in-depth sports news story, call Reporter Andre Johnson at 901-690-6587 or Facebook message him for details under “Andre T. Johnson.”

Andre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. A 2000 graduate of the University of Memphis School of Journalism, Johnson covers the NBA Southwest Division from Dallas, Texas. To reach Johnson, send an email to [email protected] Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.

 

Ex-U of M star Danton Barto gives worthy advice to pro football hopeful Braylon Burks

DALLAS — Braylon Burks doesn’t shy away from the notion that he is auditioning for a roster spot on professional football team.

PRO DREAMS --- Just recently, Dallas native Braylon Burks was introduced to Danton Barto, a former University of Memphis All-American linebacker and ex-Canadian Football League standout who currently works as a college scout for the St. Louis Rams.  According to 24-year-old Burks, he came away thoroughly appreciative and knowledgeable about what it takes to assume --- and retain --- a roster spot as a pro. (Photos courtesy of SAGU Athletics)

PRO DREAMS — Just recently, Dallas native Braylon Burks was introduced to Danton Barto, a former University of Memphis All-American linebacker and ex-Canadian Football League standout who currently works as a college scout for the St. Louis Rams.
According to 24-year-old Burks, he came away thoroughly appreciative and knowledgeable about what it takes to assume — and retain — a roster spot as a pro. (Photos courtesy of SAGU Athletics)

So much, in fact, that the former South Oak Cliff High standout has gone to great lengths in recent weeks to absorb as much pivotal advice he can as he prepares to fulfill a long awaited dream he’s had since his childhood days of playing recreational football in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Just recently, Burks was introduced to Danton Barto, a former University of Memphis All-American linebacker and ex-Canadian Football League standout who currently works as a college scout for the St. Louis Rams.

According to the 24-year-old Burks, the Dallas native came away thoroughly appreciative and knowledgeable about what it takes to assume — and retain — a roster spot as a pro.
After all, who better to learn from than someone who has spent years not just as a player in the professional ranks, but has functioned as the chief executive officer of a professional football franchise?

Barto is a former Arena Football League coach, a stint that included a brief tenure as an assistant and subsequent head coach of the now-defunct Memphis Xplorers of the arenafootball2 league. To his credit, Barto enjoyed a wealth of success in Memphis, having guided the Xplorers to a championship.

BIG CHANCE --- Fortunately for Burks, it’s safe to assume his golden opportunity to put his skills on display will take place as early as before year’s end.  Burks said he has been in discussion with team officials of the Arena Football League’s Green Bay Blizzard for a possible tryout. Also, he has generated interest from a few other AFL teams, most notably the Arizona Rattlers.

BIG BREAK — Fortunately for Burks, it’s safe to assume his golden opportunity to put his skills on display will take place as early as before year’s end.
Burks said he has been in discussion with team officials of the Arena Football League’s Green Bay Blizzard for a possible tryout. Also, he has generated interest from a few other AFL teams, most notably the Arizona Rattlers.

For someone who has familiarized himself with the pros and cons with regards to making a favorable impression on pro scouts and general managers, Barto lessoned Burks the best way he knew how during a phone conversation Burks said lasted approximately 15 minutes.

“(Barto) said there is nothing wrong with Arena Football,” Burks told Sports Journalist Andre Johnson. “He said I must learn as much as I can, stay focused, and don’t get caught up in other things.”

Other things such as what’s in the past are exactly where they belongs — in the past.

For instance, following a remarkable stint at South Oak Cliff in which he emerged as the catalyst for the Bears on both sides of the ball, the 6-foot-7 Burks consequently took his talents to Southwestern Assemblies of God University in nearby Waxahachie, Texas, where he played sparingly, in large part because of a number of coaching changes.

By and large, among those who admittedly were discouraged in Burks’ lack of playing time was his mother, Kimberly Session, who sensed her son — whom SAGU current head coach Frank Tristan in a telephone interview on Tuesday emphasized boasts “a wealth of size and is a true talent” — has possessed the mechanics all along to play major college football.

Professional football too.

DREAM CHASER --- Aside from working his daytime job and partaking in his customary community service as a way to enhance his resume, Burks trains intensely, sometimes as many as five times per weeks, sometimes as late as 10 o’clock nightly.

DREAM CHASER — Aside from working his daytime job and partaking in his customary community service as a way to enhance his resume, Burks trains intensely, sometimes as many as five times per weeks, sometimes as late as 10 o’clock nightly.

“He has been overlooked like so many other great players,” said Session, who has played an integral role in aiding her son to generate the essential exposure in hopes of playing at the professional level.

FOLLOW BRAYLON ON SOCIAL MEDIA: Facebook: Braylon Burks
Instagram: BBURKS_BALLIN
Email: [email protected]

Aside from working his daytime job and partaking in his customary community service as a way to enhance his resume, Burks trains intensely, sometimes as many as five times per weeks, sometimes as late as 10 o’clock nightly.

As he tells it, there is simply no room for error, no time to let up, especially considering his support system has become solid than it has ever been in some time.

“I am very confident in myself as well as my abilities and I feel that God has divinely favored me with a gift of being a professional athlete as well as being a strong leader in the community,” Burks said. “I perform at my best when my back is against the wall. I also feel I can play at the professional level if granted an opportunity. It takes a lot of work, patience, hard work and faith.”

Fortunately for Burks, it’s safe to assume his golden opportunity to put his skills on display for a pro team will take place as early as before year’s end.

The former high school teammate of Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end Jacquies Smith, Burks said he has been in discussion with team officials of the Arena Football League’s Green Bay Blizzard for a possible tryout. Also, he has generated interest from a few other AFL teams, most notably the Arizona Rattlers.

So far, things appear to be holding up nicely for this resilient, opportunistic youngster, who doesn’t shy away from the notion that he is auditioning for roster spot on professional football team.

“I feel like I can play at the next level,” Burks reiterated.

More than anything, he acknowledges, he plans to heed the advice given to him by Barto.

“He just said to me, ‘Keep your eyes on the prize and know what is important,’” Burks said. “He said some guys are comfortable where they are, so I must make sure I keep my eyes on the prize.”

Spoken like a big, soft-spoken athlete who’s yet clinging to Texas-size dreams.

 

AndreEDITOR’S NOTE: If you have a child or team that is seeking exposure and would like an in-depth sports news story, call Reporter Andre Johnson at 901-690-6587 or Facebook message him for details under “Andre T. Johnson.”

Andre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. A 2000 graduate of the University of Memphis School of Journalism, Johnson covers the NBA Southwest Division from Dallas, Texas. To reach Johnson, send an email to [email protected] Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.

Is Cal-area footballer Dalvin Jamal-Milton being overlooked by Mid-South, Pac 12 schools?

Lorenzo Jackson remembers that 10-foot pole, remembers it like yesterday.

At the tender age of three, Jackson’s grandson, Dalvin Jamal-Milton — a rather active, energetic kid — was seen somehow climbing atop that rather long, medal pole during what ultimately turned into a holiday worth remembering for his beloved paw paw.

CALIFORNIA DREAMIN' --- A flourishing, crafty football player Jamal-Milton has become, one, who, with another masterful display in this, his final season at Jesuit High School in Carmichael, California --- in the outskirts of Sacramento --- could very well find himself playing on Saturdays around this time next year.  A stocky, speedy, 5-foot-8 running back who has evolved as an integral force for the Marauders’ potent rushing attack in recent years, Jamal-Milton has been nothing short of impressive, although he admittedly brings into the 2015 season higher expectations. (Photos submitted by A. Jamal)

CALIFORNIA DREAMIN’ — A flourishing, crafty football player Jamal-Milton has become, one, who, with another masterful display in this, his final season at Jesuit High School in Carmichael, California — in the outskirts of Sacramento — could very well find himself playing on Saturdays around this time next year.
A stocky, speedy, 5-foot-8 running back who has evolved as an integral force for the Marauders’ potent rushing attack in recent years, Jamal-Milton has been nothing short of impressive, although he admittedly brings into the 2015 season higher expectations. (Photos submitted by A. Jamal)

“When he was three years old, Dalvin climbed up a 10-foot pole, using pure arm and stomach strength just to reach an Easter egg,” Jackson told sports journalist Andre Johnson. I knew from that point on he would be an elite football player.”

A flourishing, crafty football player Jamal-Milton has become, one, who, with another masterful display in this, his final season at Jesuit High School in Carmichael, California — in the outskirts of Sacramento — could very well find himself playing on Saturdays around this time next year.

A stocky, speedy, 5-foot-8 running back who has evolved as an integral force for the Marauders’ potent rushing attack in recent years, Jamal-Milton has been nothing short of impressive, although he admittedly brings into the 2015 season higher expectations.

Never mind the assortment of accolades he’s garnered in recent years, honors such as: the Shrine Bowl Most Valuable Player in  2011 while playing for the Rosemont Jr. Wolverines; Offensive MVP in 2012 while a member of Jesuit High’s freshman team; MVP 2012 of Jesuit’s freshman rugby squad in 2012; and Offensive MVP of Jesuit’s junior varsity team in 2013.

A TRUE TALENT --- Jamal-Milton was named the Shrine Bowl Most Valuable Player in  2011 while playing for the Rosemont Jr. Wolverines; Offensive MVP in 2012 while a member of Jesuit High’s freshman team; MVP 2012 of Jesuit’s freshman rugby squad in 2012; and Offensive MVP of Jesuit’s junior varsity team in 2013.

A TRUE TALENT — Jamal-Milton was named the Shrine Bowl Most Valuable Player in 2011 while playing for the Rosemont Jr. Wolverines; Offensive MVP in 2012 while a member of Jesuit High’s freshman team; MVP 2012 of Jesuit’s freshman rugby squad in 2012; and Offensive MVP of Jesuit’s junior varsity team in 2013.

To his credit, this thriving multisport athlete had shown flashes of resiliency during what was an efficient junior campaign.

In being installed in his first full season on the varsity squad, Jamal-Milton essentially showed no signs of rust, having ended the season with 424 rushing yards and five rushing scorers. To his credit, he managed to help propel the Marauders on effective drives, considering he averaged 5.7 yards per carry.

He was just as remarkable as a member of the school’s rugby team, given he managed to start in 10 outings.

MR. ALL-AROUND --- He was just as remarkable as a member of the school’s rugby team, given he managed to start in 10 outings.

MR. ALL-AROUND — Jamal-Milton was just as remarkable as a member of the school’s rugby team, given he managed to start in 10 outings last year.

Still, looking ahead, many who have followed Jamal-Milton’s rise and development as a football standout — he runs an average of 4.49 seconds in the 40-yard dash and bench presses approximately 225 pounds — believe he possesses the tools and skills to play football at the collegiate level, although he has yet to field any official scholarships offers.

But what does Jamal-Milton thinks about all this?

“I’ve always imagined college football as being a utopia for players who truly love the game of football,” Jamal-Milton said. “I have yet to be on a team where I could walk on the field, knowing that all of my teammates share the same passion for football as I do. This dream of mine could not get any better.”

CHECK OUT JAMAL-MILTON IN ACTION: http://www.maxpreps.com/athlete/dalvin-jamal-milton/Hlph8hysEeS00gAmVebEWg/videos.htm?videoid=46d0b324-edd6-40fe-80ae-b627453afd69

What so astounding about his athletic progress over the years, Jamal-Milton said, is that he had grown accustomed to silencing naysayers and critics — or those who sensed that as an undersized athlete, he didn’t have what it takes to compete at a high level.

Uh oh.

Somebody told them wrong.

HE SAID IT --- “I’ve always imagined college football as being a utopia for players who truly love the game of football,” Jamal-Milton said. “I have yet to be on a team where I could walk on the field, knowing that all of my teammates share the same passion for football as I do. This dream of mine could not get any better.”

HE SAID IT — “I’ve always imagined college football as being a utopia for players who truly love the game of football,” Jamal-Milton said. “I have yet to be on a team where I could walk on the field, knowing that all of my teammates share the same passion for football as I do. This dream of mine could not get any better.”

“Since the day I first set foot on the field with my helmet and shoulder pads in hand, I’ve always been looked at as a lesser child,” Jamal-Milton explained. “As a result of being looked at this way, I was moved to play on the (offensive) line. I played line until my sixth grade year. I remember my uncle, Rashad Jamal, walking into my room and asking me if I’m ready to work. I replied saying, ‘Yes, but for what?’ He replied to me, saying, ‘For your opportunity.’

“From that day on, I worked every day to cut weight in order to be eligible as a running back,” Jamal-Milton continued. “When the day came for weigh-ins, I made weight and ran the ball for the first time like I never thought I could. Every day I wake up, I remember the work and pain I had to go through that led to the life I live today. I often realize that with hard work, blood, sweat, and tears, great things can be accomplished without a doubt.”

A trend that, to his credit, has taken place time and again since he his grandfather, his self-proclaimed “No. 1 fan,” caught his climbing that 10-foot pole at the tender age of three.

For Jamal-Milton, the biggest question now is at what point college scouts will acknowledge his assertiveness and immense skills.

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: If you have a child or team that is seeking exposure and would like an in-depth sports news story, call Reporter Andre Johnson at 901-690-6587 or Facebook message him for details under “Andre T. Johnson.”

AndreAndre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. A 2000 graduate of the University of Memphis School of Journalism, Johnson covers the NBA Southwest Division from Dallas, Texas. To reach Johnson, send an email to [email protected] Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.

 

Fitness star Johnny Loper garners national recognition as motivational speaker

Loper3Long before Johnny Loper starred at wide receiver for South Carolina State from 1995-2000, he had lofty aspirations of making an NFL roster, in large part because he wanted to retire his mother from the factory job she had for years in his native hometown.

Fortunately for Loper, the Waynesboro, Miss. native made good on his ambition to his retire his mother, although it came courtesy of a much different route.

Nearly four years ago, Loper’s company, Jaylo Fitness, chose to partner with AdvoCare, a development that resulted in him earning approximately $18,000 within his first month after joining.

TRUE CHAMPION --- Loper, pictured with his wife, Weslynne, has become a fixture in recent months because of his rapid success as an entrepreneur. Loper takes part in regular speaking engagements to discuss health, wellness, and living a carefree lifestyle.

TRUE CHAMPION — Loper, pictured with his wife, Weslynne, has become a fixture in recent months because of his rapid success as an entrepreneur. Loper takes part in regular speaking engagements to discuss health, wellness, and living a carefree lifestyle.

Now that Loper has been afforded more freedom away from his gym and enjoys a mostly carefree lifestyle that includes frequent vacations and more time with his family, the former Arena Football League standout has taken part in another venture he believes will enhance the lives of others.

Because of his continuous success through Jaylo Fitness and Advocare in recent years, Loper, 38, has had the luxury of delivering speeches to an assortment of organizations throughout the Mid-South.

Given the thunderous applauses and favorable feedback he has garnered, his itinerary figures to expand in the foreseeable future.

Just recently, for instance, Loper spoke before approximately 25,000 witnesses during an Advocare Success School event at the Dallas Cowboys’ AT & T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

“A little country boy from Waynesboro, Mississippi was given the opportunity to be center stage addressing an audience that size,” Loper told MemphiSport Thursday afternoon. “That in itself should let anyone know that anything in life is possible if you refuse to give up.”

To Loper’s credit, although he twice attempted to land an NFL contract — with the Pittsburgh Steelers and Carolina Panthers — he never wavered with regards to earning a comfortable living.

Following a three-year stint with the now-defunct Memphis Xplorers of the arenafootball2 league in which he earned about $300 per week, Loper consequently started his business.

HOMECOMING --- As an avid motivational speaker, Loper will return to his native hometown of Waynesboro, Mississippi next month to speak with various athletes.

HOMECOMING — As an avid motivational speaker, Loper will return to his native hometown of Waynesboro, Mississippi next month to speak with various athletes.

At times, a regular work day for him lasted nearly 16 hours, a trend by which Loper wasn’t bothered at the time.

“I was actually enjoying life because I didn’t have kids,” Loper told MemphiSport during a February 28 interview. “It was just me and my wife. But when my little boy came along, it wasn’t about me anymore. I kind of had a sour taste in my mouth because my dad had to work all the time. He couldn’t make all of my sporting events.”

Since Jaylo Fitness partnered with AdvoCare in three years ago, Loper and his wife, Weslynne, have benefited mightily with one of the world’s premiere wellness companies, whose endorsers include an array of professional athletes, most notable Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten and New Orleans Saints’ Super Bowl 44 MVP Drew Brees.

So much, in fact, that Johnny Loper has gained a newfound passion for sharing his success in front of sizable crowds.

As he tells it, speaking in front of large audiences essentially has become apart of his vision.

“It’s always special when you are presented with an opportunity to help someone else by sharing your story,” Loper said.  “There are a lot of people in this world who are hurting or who are in need of some form of inspiration in order to make it through the day.  I consider it an honor and a privilege to be view as a leader who has the heart of a servant.”

While his requests to give speeches have increased considerably in recent months, Loper acknowledges he doesn’t always know which topics and issues to discuss once he takes the podium.

In other words, he admittedly follows his instincts with regards to grasping his audience’s attention, something his attendees have come to embrace.

“Sometimes, I never know what I’m going to say until I’m in front of the audience,” Loper said. “But I can say that I enjoy sharing my core values with my audience.  At the end of the day, I believe that success comes from strong faith, strong commitment, strong family, and strong love.   I hope that after every speech, the audience looks at me, hears my message, and leave the room motivated by the thought of, “If he can make it, then I know I can make it.”

Among those who routinely make it point to attend Loper’s speaking engagements is his wife Weslynne. According to her, people are amazed at how her husband can freely go about grasping their attention with pure transparency and eloquence.

“I am absolutely so proud of Johnny,” Weslynee said. “He is not only an awesome husband but also an amazing father who is passionate about his family. He also loves helping other families grow. Johnny definitely has a servant’s heart. He is passionate about helping other families become healthier along with financial freedom. When you have better options in life, this definitely will make a family’s dynamics grow stronger. It is a true blessing when you can help others succeed.

Especially when one is from a small, rural town such as Waynesboro, Mississippi.

“There is not a day that goes by that I don’t thank God for the things he has allowed me to experience,” said Loper, who is scheduled to return to his hometown to deliver a speech in September.  “It is those constant thoughts of my hometown and my upbringing that keeps me humble. Those thoughts keep me grounded and fuel my drive to always want to help someone else achieve prosperity.”

Something his mother witnessed firsthand the moment he retired her from her job.

EDITOR’S NOTE: To book Johnny Loper for a speaking engagement, call 901-619-5662. Also, follow him on Instagram at JOHNNY LOPER (@ JAYLOFITNESS) https://twitter.com/ JAYLOFITNESS as well as like his Jaylo Facebook fan page. 

DrePicAndre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. Based in Dallas, Texas, Johnson covers the NBA Southwest Division. To reach Johnson, email him at[email protected]. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist. 

Ex-Arena Football star Johnny Loper enjoying greener pastures as Jaylo Fitness owner

GREENER PASTURES --- Johnny Loper enjoyed a brief professional football stint with the Memphis Xplorers of the arenafootball2 league from 2000-2003, earning about $300 a week. Today, the owner of Jaylo Fitness has witnessed his annual income increase considerably now that he has partnered his AdvoCare. (Photo submitted by Jonny Loper).

GREENER PASTURES — Johnny Loper enjoyed a brief professional football stint with the Memphis Xplorers of the arenafootball2 league from 2000-2003, earning about $300 a week. Today, the owner of Jaylo Fitness has witnessed his annual income increase considerably now that he has partnered his AdvoCare. (Photo submitted by Johnny Loper).

When Olive Branch, Miss.-area entrepreneur Johnny Loper started his business seven years ago, a regular work day for him lasted nearly 16 hours.

He didn’t see a problem with that.

“I was actually enjoying life because I didn’t have kids,” Loper told MemphiSport. “It was just me and my wife. But when my little boy came along, it wasn’t about me anymore. I kind of had a sour taste in my mouth because my dad had to work all the time. He couldn’t make all of my sporting events.”

Now a father of two, Loper sensed immediate changes needed to take place once his wife, Weslynne, gave birth to their first child. Among those changes was to make certain he didn’t spend lengthy hours at Jaylo Fitness at 8325 Highway 178 in Olive Branch, the business he founded roughly four years after his minor league football career had ended.

For Loper, a Waynesboro, Miss. native who starred at wide receiver for South Carolina State from 1995-2000, he had lofty aspirations of making an NFL roster, in large part because he wanted to retire his mother from the factory job she had for years in his native hometown.

However, after being invited to try out for the Pittsburgh Steelers and Carolina Panthers following a three-year stint with the now-defunct Memphis Xplorers of the arenafootball2 league, Loper’s dreams of embarking upon NFL riches ended abruptly when he failed to earn a spot on the teams’ 53-men rosters.

“That wasn’t my purpose,” the 37-year-old Loper said during a recent interview from his residence in Olive Branch. “It was good for a season to learn different things. But that wasn’t my ending point.”

To his credit, among the things Loper learned during his brief tenure as a professional athlete was the importance of staying in good health. More than 10 years removed from having earned an Arena Football League check that paid him about $300 a week, Loper has cashed in mightily because of his stern commitment to helping individuals establish a healthy lifestyle.

Since 2011, Jaylo Fitness has partnered with AdvoCare, a premier health and wellness company that offers world-class energy, weight-loss, nutrition, and sports performance products along with rewarding business opportunities. For the Lopers, they have reaped the benefits of having joined one of the world’s premiere wellness companies, whose endorsers include an array of professional athletes, most notable Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten and New Orleans Saints’ Super Bowl 44 MVP Drew Brees.

Loper, a former South Carolina State star wide receiver, had lofty dreams of playing in the NFL when he was invited to try out for the Pittsburg Steelers and Carolina Panthers following his brief Arena Football stint. (Photo courtesy of South Carolina State University)

Loper, a former South Carolina State star wide receiver, had lofty dreams of playing in the NFL when he was invited to try out for the Pittsburg Steelers and Carolina Panthers following his brief Arena Football stint. (Photo courtesy of South Carolina State University)

Last month, Loper helped produce a 24-minute DVD for AdvoCare with appearances by Whitten and Brees, as well as a host of NFL players.

As Loper recalls, if it weren’t for the long hours he invested to a fitness business that had already earned a favorable reputation among Mid-Southerners, it likely would have taken longer for him to realize why a career in the NFL wasn’t meant to happen.

While at his facility in 2005, Loper noticed a client leaving the building. In her bag, he saw some AdvoCare products. Once he inquired about the items, that’s when his life began to change.

“It took me at least five years until I started doing AdvoCare with our business,” Loper said. “I knew the products worked because we used it when I was in college. Everybody was coming to me to get me to do direct sales because everybody’s got juices and things of that nature. But what I loved about AdvoCare  was that your money was 100 percent back guaranteed. When we began researching, we saw the credibility the company had being that Drew Brees was endorsing AdvoCare for free. It wasn’t a company that just started up.”

That Jaylo Fitness elected to partner with AdvoCare three years ago — he earned approximately $18,000 within his first month after joining — Loper has gained more freedom away from his gym and now savors a carefree lifestyle that has enabled him to spend more time with his family. A usual work week at his fitness facility is comprised of between five-to-eight hours in which he mostly spends that time teaching what he calls “Fitness Bootcamps” or conducting hour-long total body workouts before a class of about 50 participants.

In other words, a majority of Loper’s work is done from the comfortable confines of his home.

“Within a matter of a month, we had earned $18,000,” Loper said. “Tears just came to my eyes. “When (his client) explained to me what had happened, I had a golden opportunity that I really couldn’t let slip away. That changed my life completely.”

Not to mention the livelihood of his mother, Fannie Loper.

Loper not only was able to retire his mother from the factory job she held since he was a child, but she has lost about 50 pounds because of her commitment to using AdvoCare products.

“That was my whole reason of trying to get to the NFL,” Loper said. “I was trying to get my mom out of that trailer and to retire her from her job.”

He managed to do both within just three months.

Never mind his dreams of playing in the NFL are now a distant memory.

Andre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. To reach Johnson, email him at [email protected]. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.