Beating the odds

CORINTH, Texas -- He walked into a crowded room Friday filled with family, teammates, coaches, reporters and school faculty. Head down, shy, reserved and seemingly embarrassed that he was the reason for the prestigious announcement.

That's Taylor Bible off the field. He is big teddy bear of sorts with a lighthearted sense of humor. It comes as no surprise that Bible was taken aback when presented with his Under Armour All-American jersey.

"This is really, really, really overwhelming," Bible said. "The hair on my neck is standing up. It's all hard to believe. It feels good to think that people think I'm this good."

For those who are close to Bible, his reaction was normal. "High character" and "unassuming" are the words used most often when describing the Texas Longhorns commit. However, his personality abruptly changes when the 6-foot-3, 290-pound defensive tackle steps foot on the field.

"He's very humble, he's very shy, but when he puts on that helmet, he becomes a monster," said Bible's mother, Joanna McAdams. He's just different. He's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde."

Like most imposing figures, Bible was the biggest kid on whichever field or court he walked onto as a youngster. The family knew early on, while he was playing soccer, that football was the sport Bible needed to gravitate toward.

"Growing up, he pretty much knew what he wanted to do. He started playing soccer when he was 4. It was time for football when he began being bored and started picking daisies on the field," McAdams said.

Bible's dad, Artis McAdams, knew immediately that Bible relished physicality and the contact that football would provide.

"When he played soccer, he was physical, bumping into the kids a lot," Artis McAdams said. "We knew pretty quickly it was time for city league football. He was one of the bigger kids on the team at 10 years old. He loved football immediately. He used to love to wrestle around in the house until he got too big. He got too big to wrestle at home. It was too much. Taylor loves contact and tackling."

Being physically dominating came easy to Bible, so facing adversity and realizing the work he would have to put in to continue his success took time.

"Taylor's always been a great character kid," Denton Guyer head coach John Walsh said. "I'd be lying if I said he came to us with an incredible work ethic, but that's something he's learned to do. Everything always came easy for him. He was the biggest kid on the football field and basketball court, but he's began playing against other big kids and realized he had to really work. His work ethic now is off the charts."

Fast-forward 10 years and Bible has developed into an All-American, but his growth and development nearly suffered a career-ending setback when he was a freshman. In May of 2007 while he was running in Guyer's offseason program, Bible's lower right leg broke and gave out.

"My wife and I were at the house in the kitchen and Coach Walsh called the house," Artis McAdams said. "We didn't pick up the house phone in time and then the cell phones rang. Coach said Taylor had broken his leg. I told Coach to stop joking with me and he said he was serious. He said they were on their way to the hospital. Coach Walsh said he had never seen a kid like Taylor. He didn't even cry when the injury happened. The only time he teared up was when he asked Coach if he would be able to play in the fall."

Walsh immediately felt the feeling of panic along with Bible, who has a titanium rod in his right leg.

"The initial reaction was a panic from him and me too. He worked through it though. He's a good Christian kid, he has a lot of faith and it has all worked out," Walsh said.

As expected from a young man with strong belief, Bible used his time of adversity to show what can result with strong-willed determination.

"Right when I broke it in offseason, I was thinking wow, I looked at it and thought there is no way I'm playing next year. It shows that anything is possible with hard work and determination. I had a lot of help. I needed help trying to overcome and a lot of people helped me out. I feel blessed to have people around me that care," Bible said.

He didn't miss a beat playing both tight end and defensive tackle. He even became a first-team, all-district player as a sophomore. Having felt a strong sense of family and trust at Texas in February, Bible decided it was the perfect fit.

"I felt like the chemistry was what I was looking for and it was family-oriented," he said. "There is a respect level they had and an honesty that they kept. It was the right place for me."

While Walsh isn't one to predict the NFL future of a high school senior, he feels strongly about Bible's ability.

"There's only 1 percent that makes it to the league, so I'm real careful on predicting the future. I do think he will be playing for Texas next year. I don't know about starting, but he'll be on the field for the Longhorns next year," Walsh said. "Anytime you play for a top team like Texas, you've got a chance to be playing this game for a long time. He's a gamer."

Gerry Hamilton has covered recruiting in Texas and the Southwest for over a decade. He can be reached at espngerry@yahoo.com.