All across the country you can hear stories about generations of family members attending one institution of higher learning. Tennessee State is no different with legacies dating back decades. It is also the case for second generation Tigers, Lawrence Segree II and Baylor Segree. Lawrence is a redshirt junior on the football team, while younger brother Baylor is in his second season with the men’s track team.
The first step to this family tradition began in 1991 when assistant football coach Rob Ryan saw a high school wide receiver from Lakeland, Fla. The Tigers liked what they saw but did not contact Lawrence Segree right away. When Ryan finally approached the elder Segree, he came touting VHS tapes about the Engineering department, a highlight tape of four Tiger wide receivers and the coaching experience of his family – father Buddy (head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles) and brother Rex (who would eventually become the head coach of the New York Jets and the Buffalo Bills).
After both videos, Segree fell in love with Tennessee State without knowing anything about the history of the institution. To this day, Segree remembers the highlight video which featured Marcus Dowdell, Patrick Robinson, Anthony Owens and John Frierson. And oddly enough, all these years later, Segree’s second son Baylor is on the track team with Frierson’s son, John.
Segree attended TSU and made a name for himself in the record books while earning a degree in Aeronautical Industrial Technology. By the end of his career, Segree was a two-time First Team All-Ohio Valley Conference selection, was the single season receptions leader (65), third in career receptions (160), fourth in career receiving yards (2,102) and shared the top spot in receptions in a single game (12, twice).
Segree gives credit to former All-Americans Randy Fuller and Cedrick Davis for making him the receiver he was in college. Fuller, a fourth round draft pick of the Denver Broncos in 1994, and Davis, selected in the fifth round by the Arizona Cardinals in 1995, were two of the main defenders Segree had to face in practice on a daily basis.
“Randy Fuller was one of the best I ever went up against,” Segree stated. “Randy Fuller and Cedrick Davis; we battled. They would both jam me at the line as a young guy. They were faster so I had to learn how to be physical to go up and get the ball. Going against them made games easy for me.”
Segree who played from 1992-95 has had the opportunity to see firsthand many of the players who equaled or moved past him in the record books. Some were teammates or players who came in a year after and some were teammates of his son Lawrence. Last season, Chris Rowland caught 104 passes to move Segree to fifth in single season receptions. He also dropped to sixth in career receptions as Rowland and Steven Newbold both moved pass his mark. The 2019 receiving duo also passed Segree in career receiving yards moving him out of the top 10.
The 12 receptions in a game that Segree accomplished twice, ranks in a tie for fifth after Rowland posted games of 14 and 13 last year.
“It is exciting for me to watch kids grow,” Segree Sr. said. “I really didn’t know the history when I was done and I don’t really think about the numbers. I like to stay in the background and just watch. It is exciting to watch them play and succeed. I reached out to a couple of them at times to tell them good job and keep up the good work.”
Segree would also go on to meet his future wife while attending TSU. Brequia Reed hails from Detroit, Mich. and earned a bachelor’s degree in Psychology EDS. She was a part of the Student Government, where she was a member of the Student Election Commission (SEC) and served as Miss SEC. She then became Miss Senior apart of the Student Government Association (SGA). She pledged Delta Sigma Theta - Alpha Chi Chapter Spring 1996.
The Segree’s are proud alums and brought their four children to different events at Tennessee State throughout the years. Their house always had items featuring TSU as well as their diplomas on display for all to see.
But when it came to their children following in their footsteps, they left it up to them.
“We wanted them to be comfortable,” Segree mentioned. “We didn’t want to force it upon them because we went to TSU. We didn’t want them to go because of us and then hate it there. But we were both very happy once Lawrence chose TSU.”
The couples four children, Lawrence II, Baylor, daughter Taylin and youngest son Princeton, have grown up playing sports and Lawrence Sr. has been right there along side. The elder Segree has helped train his children and even served as a coach at the youth and middle school levels in football and basketball.
The two oldest would begin playing at a young age with Baylor playing up in age groups. At times they played on the same football or basketball teams. The two also played baseball growing up and took on track as they reached high school age. Baylor even played a couple years of soccer in junior high. Lawrence would play baseball and basketball for the first two years at Brentwood Academy (BA), but stopped to focus on football.
Baylor transferred to La Vergne High School after a couple years at BA. He played basketball for three seasons, but was a four year letter winner in both football and Track, like Lawrence. Baylor loved playing all sports because it helped him become more competitive. Lawrence would start to focus more on football in high school. He would take track serious, but football was always his goal.
In football, Lawrence helped BA to the first two of four consecutive Tennessee State Championships. In his final game, Segree caught five passes for 76 yards and two touchdowns, which gained the attention of TSU head coach Rod Reed who was at the game in support of his daughter who was on the cheer team.
Lawrence garnered interest from other universities for football and was weighing his options before taking an official visit to Tennessee State. He would receive information about TSU from his parents, but admitted they never pushed in that direction. Eventually, he started to lean towards the Big Blue.
Lawrence would follow in his father’s footsteps as a wide receiver at TSU. A place which has his father’s name is in the record books.
“He never bragged about himself,” Lawrence said of his father. “He would show us highlight tapes, but I didn’t truly realize how good he was until I was in high school.”
Lawrence learned more about the records once he got to Tennessee State. He would see the records on line as fellow teammates Patrick Smith, Chris Rowland and Steven Newbold started to reach his father’s marks.
“Chris would talk to me about it at times,” Segree II said. “He’d joked for me to tell my dad that he was coming for his records. My dad would always say he was happy for him and that he was rooting for them.”
Baylor would follow the path to TSU two years later, but with a different sport. The decision made his older brother happy, because they will be together.
“We grew up together and played almost all our sports together,” Lawrence mentioned. “It will be exciting. It would be like we were kids again. We never really fought, ah wait, never mind. It was never really physical. It was more verbal. I think he got tired of me saying the stuff older brothers say.”
For Baylor, football came first while growing up. He didn’t look to run track outside of high school. He started to realize it was fun during his sophomore year and it started to become natural. He began to push himself and started training hard which propelled him to the state championships in the 400.
“I thought I was going to college for football as a senior,” Baylor mentioned. “My high school coach told me I was going to college for track, but it didn’t really faze me. Then I started to post personal records and started getting noticed for track, so I decided to stay with track.”
In the middle of June, former track associate head coach Asha Gibson reached out to his father about their interest. Baylor was looking to go further away for school, but the opportunity came forward and it worked out.
“I could tell my parents were happy,” said Baylor. “Because we kept TSU in the family and they would have me close. I always wanted to go further away, but now I actually like being close to home.
“It also helped because my brother would be able to help me find my way around. Also, I definitely was going to be able to meet more people because of my brother. So I had that advantage. It is great to be around him, but I have my own teammates that I hang out with.”
Baylor ran cross country last fall and finished the indoor season, but never had a chance to run an outdoor season due to the cancellation of spring sports due to COVID-19.
Lawrence was looking to move up the depth chart with the graduation of Rowland and Newbold after playing in all 11 contests a year ago. The traditional fall season has been put on hold with hopes of playing in the spring. Segree caught five passes in 2019 for 58 yards.
The Segree brothers are now looking to make their own marks on TSU.
“For me, my goal is to help us win a team championship,” Lawrence stated. “If I do that, then those things will come.”
“My father set a mark,” Baylor mentioned. “And it gave us a bigger goal to reach. But it is time for me to make my mark. I know that many people do not know that he is still in the record book, but I know that. I know I was born to be great like him.”
Both Lawrence and Baylor believe their siblings will be collegiate athletes. They would even like to see them at TSU.
“Princeton talk’s trash at eight years old,” Baylor laughed. “He thinks he could beat me in the 400. I like the confidence, but he needs to push it down a little bit. Taylin is a positive sole. She is more reserved and let’s her actions speak.”
“I like how it is a family thing,” boasted Lawrence, “It was great to have my parents go to TSU before me. You never know, maybe my younger brother and sister would go to TSU as well.”
“We take pride in TSU,” Lawrence Sr. said. “I will always be a Tiger and I take pride that I have two children at TSU.”