Before Michael Jordan was making Bryon Russell fall with a killer crossover and draining the go ahead jumper to win his sixth NBA title with the Chicago Bulls, Jordan was a skinny, determined athlete dominating the competition at Laney High (Wilmington, N.C.).
Before Adrian Peterson was trucking opposing defenses and racking up 2,097 yards in a single season for the Minnesota Vikings, he was shining bright under the Friday night lights at Palestine High (Palestine, Texas), averaging 12 yards a carry and scoring 32 touchdowns.
Before any athlete can become legendary, they have to lay their foundation in the high school ranks.
Each week I’ll chat with a high-profile athlete’s former coach, mentor, family member, etc., and reminisce about their high school playing days; everything from the greatest moment to the wackiest story.
On Monday, we caught up with Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles’ high school coach at Westlake (Austin, Texas) Steven Ramsey, who now serves as principal at the school.
On Sunday night, Foles led the Eagles to their first-ever Super Bowl title throwing for 373 yards and three touchdowns and even catching a touchdown pass in route to being named MVP.
Jason Jordan: What’s your best memory of Nick on the field?
Steven Ramsey: Whoa, just one? Well, realistically I’d need several, but the one that defines Nick in a way that you saw last night was when we were playing in the state quarterfinals against Ronald Reagan High School. We were on the 1 yard line and typically in those situations you’ll try to gain a couple of yards to get room to get out of there. Well, Nick told the guys that “We’re gonna throw it” and we went 99 yards and won the game. That’s the moment when the kids all saw him as the leader and they were gonna follow him anywhere.
JJ: What’s your best memory of Nick off the field?
SR: Just the way he carried himself around campus. He could talk to his teammates or a kid that he barely knew, but he’d treat them with the same respect and kindness. Everyone respected him for that. Just a great, well-rounded kid.
JJ: I hear he was a great basketball player too?
SR: Yes he was. Football coaches would say football was his best sport, but basketball coaches would say the same about basketball. I think the team aspect with so many more moving parts in football intrigued him more. He loved both though.
JJ: If he concentrated on just basketball do you think he could potentially be in the NBA right now?
SR: I don’t know. I mean he was good, but when you saw Nick as a sophomore, junior or senior I don’t think I thought that kid is gonna be in the NBA or NFL. I don’t think you ever know that a kid’s gonna have that level of success. It’s easy to say in hindsight. I think he would say that he could’ve been in the NBA. He was good now! He loved basketball. He’ll play basketball when he’s 50 and 60 years old.
JJ: What was his game like?
SR: He’s a crazy shooter and he could get inside the lane whenever he wanted to.
JJ: What’s the craziest thing you can remember from his recruitment?
SR: Nothing too crazy. There was always the knock that he’s a traditional pocket passer so he’d never be able to run the ball, he can’t get away from people and he’s not quick enough. We did have several linemen that could run a faster 40 than him, but Nick just has laser focus and exceptional ability. He’d lock in and he just got it done. Always.
JJ: Million dollar question: Can Nick do it again?
SR: Oh I can’t predict that. They’ll be one of the favorites next year for sure. I can say confidently that he loves that organization and that city. He’s just a genuine guy and a great competitor; this sort of storybook ending couldn’t have happened to a better guy.
Follow Jason Jordan on Twitter: @JayJayUSATODAY