Dec 31, 2022

Tigers, Boilermakers Form Bonds as Focus Shifts to Gameday


By Michaelea Neal
Florida Citrus Sports

The Louisiana State Tigers and Purdue Boilermakers’ bowl trip to Orlando continued Friday with a visit to TopGolf and a fun-filled morning at Fun Spot America.

Players from both teams were greeted at Fun Spot America by young kids from the West Lakes community for a few hours of fun together.

LSU defensive lineman Mekhi Wingo enjoyed bonding with local kids through the experience, met nice people, and learned about the kids’ hobbies, families and community.

“You never know what is going to make a kid’s day,” Wingo said. “So, I enjoyed that.”

The 6-foot, 295-pound Wingo, a Mizzou transfer, didn’t ride any rides but had fun watching his teammates enjoy rollercoasters with the kids. As his teammates looked on and asked questions from the gallery, Wingo joked that he didn’t notice any scared faces among the kids but heard offensive lineman Kimo Makane’ole screaming on one of the attractions.

“He sounded like he was going to pass out,” Wingo quipped.

Purdue quarterback Austin Burton will be making his third career start when the Boilermakers take the field at Camping World Stadium on Monday and relished the opportunity to cut loose before turning his attention to game day.

“It really brings a lot of joy and seeing their excitement in the couple hours we get to spend with them,” Burton said. “It is a cool opportunity for all of us.”

Purdue defensive tackle Lawrence Johnson was one of the many players shown a great time by the kids and their uplifting energy. Johnson, who says his youth years are “behind him,” had fun running around with the kids and getting to know them.

“My experience today with the kids was great,” Johnson said. “It was a lot of fun to come out here and be with the kids that have a lot of energy.”

Johnson felt some trepidation but liked the attractions he ultimately tried.

“I am really not a ride guy,” Johnson admitted. “But I was out here with the kids, so I was like, ‘Enjoy myself, and enjoy the time with the kids.’”

The event followed a pair of player outings on Thursday night at Topgolf, a trip that came with an opportunity almost as unique as Day for Kids — a window to golf with interim quarterbacks coach Drew Brees, a 20-year NFL pro with the golf skills to match his reputation on the gridiron.

Cracked Miller: “He hit a shot lefty better than I will ever hit with my good hand.”

To view and save pool photos from Cheez-It Citrus Bowl Day for kids, see the gallery below. Any images used should be credited to Collin Thomas/Florida Citrus Sports.


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