(Photo: REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine)
Tim Tebow may be the Christian athlete on the New York Jets who makes the most headlines, but coach Rex Ryan has another faithful athlete on his team who has a story and a faith that may rival the 24-year-old superstar.
Terrance Ganaway, 23-year-old running back from DeKalb, Texas, suffered from an enlarged heart in high school that forced him to reconsider playing football. However, his mother Charlor Mae Ganaway, encouraged him to keep playing and he eventually became a record-breaking RB at Baylor University.
As a senior at Baylor last season, Ganaway broke Baylor records for a single-season rushing total and 21 rushing touchdowns. Although college teammate Robert Griffin III was the superstar of the NFL draft this year, Ganaway put up big numbers at the Alamo Bowl, the college football bowl game that Baylor won last season with his help.
While the young RB's mother inspired him to live out his football dreams, she never got to see him make it to Baylor. Charlor died before Ganaway's sophomore year at the University of Houston, so the future NFL player transferred to a Texarkana, a community college that was closer to home.
After losing his mother, Ganaway thought about quitting on his dreams to play football. His father and church minister Joe Ganaway recalled reeling him back into the game with the help of Coach Briles, his former Houston coach that began to coach at Baylor.
"He said, 'Well, I'm just going to give up football.' So he left that fall and came home to DeKalb," Joe said in an NJ.com report. "He got back in touch with Coach Briles, and he said, 'Son, your mother wouldn't want you to quit football.' He stayed focused on what his mother would love for him to do."
Ganaway's father, former pastor of the Church of God in Christ in Bluff, Okla, encouraged his son to get back in touch with his Christian faith. The preacher and his Sunday school teacher wife would take Terrance and his 10 siblings to church when they were growing up, but the football player said his mother's death got him back in touch with Jesus.
"I grew up knowing about God, but it wasn't until my mom died of kidney cancer in 2008 that I fully came to know him," Ganaway said in a Times Record News report last month. "I tried to fill the void with other things, but none were lasting. Christ took over and showed me that although he couldn't replace my mom, he would be there with me forever."
This year, Ganaway was drafted by the Jets in the sixth round. Jets' running backs coach Anthony Lynn deemed the RB's interview one of the top three in his 12 year career when they worked out prior to the draft, according to NJ.com reports.
Still, Ganaway does not seem to mind that Tebow may be the Christian who receives the most attention on their team.
"I don't have any need for all the publicity and the hype," Ganaway said in the Times Record News report. "I'm just a regular guy."