Eric Greely arrived at Missouri State as a 175-pound cornerback. He quickly added 20 pounds to his 6-foot-1 frame.
“He was one of those biscuit guys,” Head Coach Dave Steckel said. “He ate too many biscuits and went to safety.”
“Then I ate more biscuits, now I’m 220,” Greely said. “Dave was like, ‘You know what, we’re just gonna move you closer to the line. You’re getting a little too big.'”
Greely has always loved his biscuits. He’s from New Orleans, a food mecca. He smiles describing jamalaya, gumbo and crawfish étouffée like they were his cousins.
The Bears senior spent his first ten years in the Big Easy. But like everyone from the area, his life has two distinct chapters: before and after Katrina.
“We just boarded up the house, packed four pairs of clothes, like going to go see my grandma for a mini-vacation: just got to get out of the city, let it run its course. Next thing you know, we’re not coming back home.”
Eric, his brother and his sister packed for four days. They returned home a year later wearing gas masks.
“A lot of things were in places they weren’t supposed to be,” Eric said. “It was crazy seeing power lines down and everything. When you go home, you see bodies on the street and everything. That was just like, wow, this is crazy.”
With no home in their hometown, the Greelys stayed with relatives in Texas, where Eric attended three different schools during fifth grade. His mother, who worked for Folgers in New Orleans, accepted a position at the company’s plant in Kansas City. The family made the move up soon after.
With a new permanent residence, Eric and his siblings felt like life was finally normal again. He was a standout football player at Liberty High School, and Missouri State recruited him the hardest.
Five years later, Greely is preparing for his final game in Springfield, a place he never imagined he would be during the first week of started fifth grade.
“I always say it’s a blessing in disguise,” he said. “I wouldn’t be here now if it wasn’t for Katrina, so I do thank God for helping us find where we needed to be.”
Eric’s parents and siblings moved back to New Orleans when he finished high school. He said their hearts never left New Orleans.
He finds it difficult to discuss life after football, but Greely will have a degree in business construction, and said he is considering a master’s program.
And while Greely loves going back home, he is not afraid of moving to a new city. As long as they’re serving biscuits.