NFL player helps Oxford kids tackle reading

Cailyn Eller, an Oxford Elementary student, asks Line a question about reading. Photo by Elise Shire.
Cailyn Eller, an Oxford Elementary student, asks Line a question about reading. Photo by Elise Shire.

There’s no better time for young students to tackle the challenges of reading than today.

That was the message that National Football League (NFL) player Zach Line, who’s with the New Orleans Saints, tried to convey to students as he visited Oxford Community Schools March 19 for March is Reading Month.

Line, a 2008 Oxford graduate, visited five schools in the district throughout the day and spoke to elementary and middle school students about the importance of reading, doing well in school and being a good person.

Line told students that the ability to read, which he learned from his time in Oxford Schools, has made him a better football player—allowing him to read and memorize notes found within the football playbook before each game.

“Everything that I learned and committed to here has helped me through college and as an athlete,” said Line. “You’ve got to know how to learn and practice it. Those skills that your teachers teach you, those will take you a long way… In any profession, anything you want to be, having creativity can be a huge asset to you. I would push you to read more. If you read more, really you can go anywhere you want to go.”

Students had the opportunity to ask Line some questions at an open microphone.

Those who did received an autographed football.

Questions asked by students included “What’s your favorite book,” “Have you ever had difficulty reading,” and “If you could play any other sport, what would it be?”

After graduating from Oxford High School, Line attended Southern Methodist University (SMU) in Texas. An undrafted free agent, the running back went on to play for both the Minnesota Vikings for four seasons, then the Saints last season, according to

In 2015, while with the Vikings, he scored one of his two touchdowns against the Detroit Lions and later had a 49-yard reception against the Lions, both games won by the Vikings.

Line was inducted into the Wildcats Hall of Fame for his dominance in the backfield while playing for OHS and for achieving the 1000-yard rushing mark during three seasons of college football.


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