But he was always a devoted father.
“For me, the focus has always been getting Ereck where he needed to be,” Everald said. “As soon as he was done with school, I was there to pick him up, take him to practice. If I wasn’t coaching him, I was mentoring him.”
Everald said he never dated much after Stokes’ death.
“I didn’t have much time for a personal life,” he said.
Neither has his son, who only began playing on the offensive line and taking football seriously during his junior year at Miami Dr. Krop. By the time he transferred and became an All-American at Miami Norland, Flowers grew from 6-4, 260 pounds to roughly what he is today.
Although UM was among the last schools to offer Flowers a scholarship, once coach Al Golden told him he could compete for a starting job on his official visit, Everald said his son committed to the Canes and began focusing on graduating early. Ereck took night and online classes while opening holes for Mr. Florida Football and current UM teammate Duke Johnson, who led the Vikings to a 15-0 record and Class 5A state title.
“He skipped homecoming, prom, graduation,” Everald said. “As a parent, you’re proud. But at the same time it’s what we’ve been working for. We’re just seeing the fruits of our labor. He says, ‘Dad, somebody might be better than me or faster than me, but they’re not going to work as hard as me.’ ”
Since coaches told Flowers he needed to get stronger after the spring game, Everald said his son has shed 7 pounds and gone from 15 reps at 225 pounds (NFL testing standard) to 25 reps.
Hard work pays off
In addition to the grueling workouts Ereck participated in over the summer at UM, Everald said he also drove to Coral Gables four nights a week to put his son through two extra hours worth of workouts a night. They lifted weights, did plyometrics and footwork training — all to get Ereck ready for fall camp and a shot at a starting job.
“He’s kind of put the Xbox aside, studies offensive linemen on video all day,” Everald said. “He made me take him down to Dolphins practice once or twice going into his senior year to study Jake Long. A good night for him is football, workout, studies and then sleep.”
Everald said although he’s thrilled his son will start against BC, the game the entire family has circled on the calendar takes place the following Saturday in Manhattan, Kan.. His mother’s family will make the hour drive west to be at the Kansas State game at Bill Snyder Stadium.
“He’s definitely different than that 6-year-old boy they remember. He’s a man,” Everald said. “I tell him all the time his mother said she would be at all his games. I know she’s looking down and is proud of him.