By Cam Smith, USA TODAY High School Sports | October 3, 2017 11:43 am ET
DeSoto (Texas) wide receiver Byron “B.J.” Hanspard Jr. received his Under Armour All America Game jersey Tuesday at his Dallas-area high school as part of the American Family Insurance Selection Tour.
“When I was born they said I wasn’t going to be able to live,” Hanspard Jr. told USA TODAY. “From that point when my mother told me that story, I knew I had a reason in this world. When my father left the league and football was introduced to me, I knew I would have an identity in this game. To be able to be named an All-American is a dream come true.
“Today was an extraordinary experience. To be able to share it with my family, friends and close friends, I just want to continue to have progression not regression from this point out.”
Hanspard Jr., a 6-foot, 170-pounder is the No. 13 ranked athlete in the country and a top-15 overall prospect in the state of Texas. He is committed to play collegiately at Arkansas and holds scholarship offers from a number of other powers in the Big XII, Pac 12 and SEC.
The DeSoto star is the son of former Doak Walker Award recipient Byron Hanspard, who starred at Texas Tech before playing for the Atlanta Falcons in 1997 and 1999. Byron Hanspard Jr. said that his father is a major influence on his life, though that has positive and negative implications for his football career.
“Having a person who has been through every level of football, winning the Doak Walker award, having him in the house has it’s good and it’s bad signs,” Hanspard Jr. said. “Even if I think I had a great game, my Dad will come around the corner with a critique asking why I did something and not something else. He’ll never let me think I’ve arrived. He’ll always keep me on my toes, think that I have much work to be done to better myself on and off the field. It’s a great tool I’ll always use throughout my career and my manhood.
“It’s been a long journey and it’s still going, but I’m grateful for all of the adversity that has come because it’s helped keep me going to this point. without them I wouldn’t be the person I am today.”
Hanspard Jr. is excited to take on the competition at the Under Armour All America Game, scheduled for Jan. 4 at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Fla. The game will be televised live on ESPN2 at 6 p.m. EST.