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University of Alabama linebacker Reggie Ragland spent his Sunday afternoon meeting fans and signing autographs at the Dick’s Sporting Goods in the Patton Creek shopping center in Hoover.
Ragland, who was named the 2015 SEC Defensive Player of the Year as well as to the 2015 All SEC First Team, said fans are one of the most important parts of the game for him.
“It makes me feel great that they travel numerous hours just to come see me play on Saturdays, and for me just to come up here and just talk to them for a couple hours and make their day, it means the whole world to me, because if it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be the person I am today,” Ragland said.
He hopes fans will remember him as a kind, “people person” and credits his parents for instilling those goals in him.
Fans were given wristbands at the door, and some stood in line for hours to meet him.
The first fan through the line, Thomas Grohs, arrived at the store around noon to secure his chance at meeting Ragland. For Grohs, who hails from Sylacauga, this kind of event not only benefits the community, but also shows how much the players care.
“It’s special that they actually come out and do things for the public,” Grohs said. “It shows the love the people have for the players, plus also the way the players feel about the community.”
Matthew Edgeworth, the community marketing manager for Dick's, said the store was very happy with Sunday’s turnout as well as the response to the store’s College Football Playoff National Championship celebration. Not only did the store host Ragland on Sunday, but it also opened its doors late on Jan. 11 and into the early hours of Jan. 12 for fans to buy championship gear immediately after the win.
“The state really has a lot of passionate Alabama fans,” Edgeworth said.