How many kids get to live to see their dream come true? James Hannah is one of them; when he was just 16 years old, he played 6-man football at Coram Deo Academy and Donnie Brake was his coach.
Hannah remembers how he used to practice outside the building on fields that were far from perfect, dreaming about playing football for Oklahoma and then to go on playing with the Dallas Cowboys, probably because his stepdad went to Oklahoma and was a Dallas Cowboy fan. Brake recalls how the field they played on was basically made off dirt and rock and partial grass!
For Hannah, the drive from the Flower Mound home to Valley Ranch takes some twenty minutes, however the journey from that rocky and dusty practice field to the manicured and plush fields the Dallas Cowboys use was a long ride!
When Hannah was a young freshman at Coram Deo, the football program was brand new and Connie Brake and his assistants learned about the six-man game from some tapes that a friend from Austin had sent him. Coram Deo went 9-2 on the first year, and up to 11-1 the next; they won the Texas Christian Athletic Fellowship state Championship.
Connie Brake remembers how even on those days Hannah was an outstanding player, a bit like a beast! In 6-man games, there is a lot more of athleticism going on; while there is some of that in 11-man, it is more important to have the best athletes in 6-man, as it means that you will win by far, because the more strength and athleticism the better as there is less coordination in this game.
It is rare for a 6-men player to go on to play in major college football or even less in the NFL, and this was the reason why Hanna left Coram Deo for Flower Mound High School, a school where he could get noticed for his skills. In 1999 Cody Vanderford was just starting the Flower Mound’s program and had never heard of Hanna until one day during spring practice he suddenly seemed to appear out of nowhere.
It was immediately evident to everyone that they were in the presence of talent, as Vanderford remembers. While it took Hanna some time to adjust to play in 11-man game instead of the 6-man he was used to, he has so much capabilities and talent that he quickly overcame all the difficulties and was soon playing as brilliantly as he did before in the 6-man.
As a senior, Hanna carried the ball 17 times for 131 yards and he caught 53 passes for 764 yards and 11 touchdowns. Hanna remembers how there were many other teams that were coming forward with offers. Oklahoma was actually one of the last ones to offer and by then he had let the childhood dream go and thought his destiny lay elsewhere, but it turned out that Oklahoma was to be after all!
Michael Hill is an avid sports fan and a sports writer who has been in the betting and price per head industry for years. Michael writes about his experience and offers tips for other aspiring entrepreneurs who wish to make a living with sports bookmaking.
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