CHICAGO — Life without football simply didn't work for Robert Gregory.
During his senior season, Gregory, the star quarterback at Simeon, was suspended from his team's second game for what he called "off-the-field issues." He wasn't allowed to travel with the Wolverines and stayed home instead.
"It was a great lesson for me to have that feeling of life without football," said Gregory, now a junior safety at Purdue. "It wasn't something I was too fond of."
Gregory, of Bronzeville, said he's matured greatly since his senior year as his Boilermakers (1-3) prepare for their game at No. 2 Michigan State (4-0) in the teams' Big Ten opener at 11 a.m. Saturday. (ESPN2).
Simeon's athletic director, Reginald Brock, said he's been pleased to watch Gregory grow as a person.
"In high school, he was a little immature, silly and emotional," Brock said. "Today we can say Robert has made the transition and he has grown into the young man we all knew he would become."
Gregory has 19 total tackles and an interception for the Boilermakers this season. Purdue head coach Darrell Hazell said Gregory has "been a very physical player for us."
Gregory is consumed with football — games, practice, film study and weight lifting — but also with his educational major of "law and society." After graduation, Gregory wants to enter law school and then become a sports agent.
"I want to pass the bar and be an agent who represents athletes," Gregory said. "I feel like I can set the tone and do whatever I want with a law degree."
Gregory rarely returns home to Chicago, especially because of "all the violence that's in the news," he said. His mother, recently retired Chicago Police officer Karyn Gross, visits him frequently in West Lafayette, he said.
And Gregory said he's glad his days of doing the wrong things in high school are in the distant past.
"There was trouble I've been in, in high school," he said. "I've learned a lot since then."
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