He was born into a family of privilege, in a city where the dividing line between rich and poor is more pronounced than most.

That would have been true whether John Stokes had chosen Vanderbilt or Auburn, whether he lost dozens of games or competed for national titles, whether he became one of the SEC’s top tacklers or never played a down.

But they say you go to college to find yourself. Who could have guessed where Stokes would look?

A 6-foot-5 linebacker out of Memphis University School, Stokes was one of the highest-rated recruits in Vanderbilt history when he signed in 2007. On Saturday, he will play his final game.

In the meantime, Stokes has discovered his calling not at Bryant-Denny or Neyland stadiums, but in South Africa, Belize and, yes, his hometown.

To read more, click here to read the rest of The Commercial Appeal’s Dan Wolken’s column.