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Former GSU star sheds business world for coaching
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Victor Cabral was doing just fine.

Sure, the former Georgia Southern defensive end had wanted to pursue a coaching career, but there weren’t any openings after he graduated. He accepted that reality and moved to Atlanta where he was excelling at his first real job, a supplemental life insurance salesman.

Business was good, but Cabral couldn’t help but feel something wasn’t right.

“It was kind of taking a toll on me because I was missing football, and I just didn’t really feel fulfilled,” said the Naples, Fla., native who suited up for the Eagles from 2000-04.

But it wasn’t until the Jan. 1 Fiesta Bowl — which saw Boise State knock off Oklahoma — when Cabral knew for certain things had to change.

“I’m not a fan of either school, but I was on the edge of my seat, yelling at 11:30 at night, just going crazy,” he said. “I was loving it, and I knew then that I had to make a move, do something else, get back into football. It was driving me crazy.”

His sudden realization brought him to a crossroads. The company he was working for was pushing him to open his own office in Statesboro, but he couldn’t ignore his overwhelming desire to get back into the game he loved.

“Do I go for football right now, or do I go and start this branch in Statesboro and make a lot more money, do my own thing and grow up a lot faster?” Cabral thought back in January. “Or I could take a huge pay cut, but do what I really want to do, what I’ve always had a passion for since high school.”

After talking it over with his former coaches, he decided to go with his heart and initially began working with the football team at Griffin High School, which employed former GSU assistants Scot Sloan and Chad Lunsford. Cabral was substitute teaching until he got fully certified and working in the weight room with hopes of becoming a full-time staff member in the fall.

Things took an unexpected turn when Lunsford was hired as the linebackers coach at Georgia Military College in Milledgeville and called Cabral to let him know about an opening there for a defensive line coach. Cabral was offered the job in March and gladly accepted the opportunity to coach the position he grew up playing. He’ll wear plenty of hats at the junior college where he’ll also assist as a strength coach, video coordinator and equipment manager.

As for influences on his coaching style, Cabral said he’s had a ton.

“I base a lot of stuff off (former GSU) Coach (John) Pate — his toughness, tough love, old-school mentality and love for his players,” Cabral said. “He’s a guy I still talk to on a regular basis. It’s still a player-coach kind of deal, but we are friends more than anything now. I’ve seen his kids grow up. It’s one of those things where I can go to him anytime, and I’m welcomed just like a member of the family.”

Cabral’s also fond of former Eagle coaches Andre Curtis, Joe Tresey and Mike Sewak.

“I grab a lot of stuff from those guys, but you also have to be yourself,” he said. “You can’t fake anything. We are having a great time at GMC.”

GMC’s goal is to help its student-athletes get into four-year colleges, and its football team has enjoyed plenty of success, including a win in the Sea Island Co. Golden Isles Bowl Classic in Brunswick last year and a 2001 national championship.

“We are pretty blessed here to have great athletes come through,” Cabral said. “The ones who buy into the military and academic aspect of it and really excel, they’re the ones who go on to the next level and perform even better. It’s a great thing we’ve got going here at GMC, and that’s a credit to the whole school.”

So with his insurance sales career behind him and GMC’s season opener 63 days away, was trading the higher-paying job for a whistle around his neck the right move for him?

“I’m the happiest I’ve ever been in my life, except for Saturdays at Paulson Stadium,” Cabral said. “I feel great. I wake up every day with a smile on my face. Life is good.”