Perennial powerhouses dominate the national scene of high school football. As talent scouts scour the nation for the nation's top high school talents, many schools are overlooked because of their size. However, every now and then small town schools produce elite talent. These are the diamonds in the rough, the once every blue moon types that some are willing to pull the trigger on while others might be a bit more reluctant. Many of the reasons for being hesitate to ink a kid might fall under the level of competition or the ability to make the jump to 11-man football. However, these players are lurking out there. All it takes is an eye to spot them and the Oklahoma Sooners have struck gold in doing so.
The most recent to achieve the dream of playing in the NFL are Ronnell Lewis and James Hanna after making the jump from the small time to center stage.
Ronnell Lewis grew up playing 8-man football in Dewer, OK. He made a name for himself not only on defense, where he would end up spending his college career and now NFL career, but also on offense. Ronnell excelled at RB as well as linebacker and landed himself a spot in the Under Armor All-Star Game. After making the jump and trying to learn the schemes and defenses 11-man teams run, Lewis eventually found himself settling in to a defensive end. His athletic ability has been off the charts but he has always felt like linebacker was his best position. Now, Lewis will have the chance to move back to that position as he moves on to the next level with the Detroit Lions.
Hanna on the other hand grew up playing 6-man football in the state of Texas at Coram Deo. (I can't even imagine playing 6-man as this is what a normal flag football team looks like.) However, the thought that not many players go from 6-man to the next level he made the jump to Flower Mound, a 5A school. His dream has been to play in the NFL for the Dallas Cowboys but the jump from 6-man to 11-man was not as kind to him but he did adjust quickly. Hanna didn't realize the amount of talent he possessed as kids were more on his level while in 6-man he stood out amongst everyone. Hanna has great size and athleticism and had a ton to do with why he was drafted (knowing OU went away from involving the TE's in the passing game outside of being blockers).
Now both of these players are going to be playing on Sundays. It is a testimony that hard work and focus will get you to where you are going. That never giving up on your dream is a motto to live by. But, more so, the ability that these Oklahoma coaches have at developing talent and preparing them to play on the next level. The question is, who is next in the line of the small time schools that has big time talent?