SURGOINSVILLE — Growing up in Kingsport, former UT football defensive back Malik Foreman had a morning pre-test ritual that included a Pal’s tea, sausage biscuit and cheddar rounds, but he attributed his success to hard work and preparation.
On Thursday, Foreman was at Surgoinsville Middle School to help inspire students to work hard and be prepared for the upcoming tests in their lives — specifically the TN Ready state tests that begin later this fall.
Thursday evening SMS hosted a College and Career Fair.
Foreman traveled to the school with his mom, Tanya Foreman, who is Eastman Chemical Co.’s education manager, to offer students encouragement to do their best and to believe in themselves, and impress upon them that preparation pays off.
In fact, Foreman is a living example for SMS students of how hard work yields dividends.
The former Dobyns-Bennett football star played 44 games in four seasons at UT (2013-16) and ended his career with 71 tackles and three interceptions en route to earning a degree in sports management.
“He’s accomplished a lot and he knows a lot about hard work and preparation, so I though he could speak to that,” Mrs. Foreman told the Times-News.
Foreman, 22, is pursuing an NFL career. He was on the Saints’ preseason roster earlier this year before being cut and recently had a tryout with the Jets. He was at home this week, so his mom asked him to tag along Thursday.
Prior to the event, Foreman met SMS football players in the field house, signed autographs and offered words of encouragement about their upcoming game Thursday night.
Later he and Mrs. Foreman spoke to students and parents in the school theater.
Foreman said if there’s one message he'd like students to take away from meeting him, it’s always to work hard at whatever they do.
“Whether you want to be a firefighter, or a painter, or any kind of thing, not just playing football or sports, just work hard at everything you do and have faith it will all work out at the end of the day,” he said.
And his academic success can’t be attributed solely to his Pal's pre-test ritual.
“Being prepared means if you know there’s something you have trouble with, just work harder on it,” Malik told students. “If you know there’s a part of the test you might get stuck on, just work on that a little bit more.”
He added, “Just relax, have fun, and be ready when the time comes.”