Football is in my blood. Always has been; always will be. The passion started young, watching from the bleachers with my dad and listening to his old stories of playing running back for the the Faith Christian Lions.
In middle school I finally got a chance to suit up in the red and white for the Faith Christian 7th grade team. Chad Wilson was our starting running back and I only got a few carries a game. I was a better athlete, but being the coach’s son has its perks. Coach Wilson gave me a few carries a game on offense, but asked me to primarily play linebacker instead. I’m always #2.
In 9th grade a new coach came, Coach Hank. And with the coaching change I finally got my chance, on a level playing field, to win the running back job. I never felt more alive than I did with the ball in my hands, slashing through the line and bowling people over into the endzone. The high school coach asked me to come play linebacker for the J.V. team but I declined. I was a running back at heart, just like my dad.
I was a 3 year starter in high school at running back and shared a backfield with QB Austin Bowman. Austin was a gunslinger and had great command of our offense. Our vertical style attack didn’t give me the most opportunities, but I managed to put up back to back 1,000 yard seasons as a sophomore and junior. I didn’t get any attention from the news or scouts though because of a running back from Broken Bow, TX named Shamar Burroughs. I’m always #2.
Burroughs was a class ahead of me in grade, but worlds behind me on the field and yet no one could seem to see it. Burroughs played in a power running attack for the Broken Bow Savages, our rivals from down the road. He put up huge numbers in High School and led Broken Bow to 2 consecutive conference championships his sophomore and junior season. His numbers were impressive at a glance (and massively inflated by his offense) but anyone should have been able to see that I was the better player. His senior season we were the only thing standing between him and a 3rd consecutive conference title. The Savages were protecting a 3 point lead with 2:30 to go and they went into their 4 minute offense (which is pretty much the same thing as their normal offense). But OLB Jonathan Shultz burst through the line, laid a monster hit on Burroughs, and knocked the ball lose. A scrum ensued but we emerged with the ball! Three plays later, I burst through the line for a 43 yard TD run to win the game and prevent the 3-peat. It wouldn’t be the last time we would meet on the field.
Shamar signed with TCU following a widely covered recruiting battle. He had all the hype going into his freshman season. Meanwhile, I quietly returned for my senior year of high school and signed with the University of Oklahoma without much fanfare. Burroughs’ “Horney Toads” and my Sooners met on the gridiron twice in our collegiate careers.
The first time was in 2020, Week 11. We won 22-17 and I outrushed Burroughs 129 yards to 88. The second time was 2021, Week 7. This time we lost in a blow out 35-3. I outrushed Burroughs 98 yards to 29, but he had the benefit of a much better team.
Shamar finished his college career with 3,705 yards (#9 on the Big XII leaderboard) and 48 TDs. I finished mine a year later with 6,579 yards (#1 on the Big XII leaderboard) and 68 TDs. Shamar got all the hype in high school, but I was the better collegiate player. Last I heard he was hanging out at Broken Bow, working out with the High School team while he waits and hopes for a call from an NFL team looking to add him to their practice squad. He got all the hype while I was considered second best, because I’m always #2.
Soon I will play my last game for my beloved Sooners (hopefully in the National Championship) and then I will enter the NFL draft. My illustrious college career has gone by like a flash. I will always fondly remember my days in Norman, but I am looking forward to the next challenge in the NFL. I’m widely considered the #1 RB in the draft and my agent has heard rumors of a top 5 pick. And then I got the call, Solomon McLaughlin from Texas Tech has decided to forgo his senior season and enter the NFL draft. And just like that, I’m back to #2.
Solomon is a fantastic player and a great guy. We got the opportunity to hang out at the Heisman ceremony and he is one of the most authentic, humble people I’ve ever met. In his 3 year career he has put up eye popping numbers. 5,587 yards rushing and 73 TDs. He is only 2 TDs away from breaking the Big XII record. He has been the entire offense in Lubbock since day one. He will get drafted before me, I’ve accepted that as a fact.
But here is what you need to know about me: I have been pushed aside and cast as the 2nd best option at every step of my career. I’ve been doubted and met with low expectations, all while my colleagues have been lauded with fanfare. And every time I have risen to the occasion. I may always start as #2, but I never stay there. I always rise to the top. Solomon may be a consensus top 5 pick and I may slide in the first round; but I promise you this: the GM that writes my name on a card and hands it to the commissioner on draft day will look back on that moment as the defining choice of their career.
There is no player that has ever worked harder than I will work to prove you right. There is no student of the game that has ever watched more film than I will watch. There is no team that will ever be changed more by the addition of one player than the one that calls my name. Take a chance on me, and I will make your career. I may be #2 now; but if history has proven anything, it is this: I never stay there for long.