Best NFL Draft Story: The Ballad of Big Mike

Here is a story that my friend Joe Sullivan showed me who knows when since the story is initially dated September of 2006 but it really takes another step today. The entire story is available through New York Times: The Ballad of Big Mike.

It is about a guy named Michael Oher who had a really tough childhood which father not being around and his mother who had cocaine addiction problems. He never really got the proper education and ended up repeating first and second grade. He also attended 11 different schools during his first nine years as a student.

His life completely changed when he was 16 years old and had gotten into a private school named Briarcrest Christian School through a person he was living with. There,  a white couple with a daughter, Leigh Anne and Sean Tuohy, allowed Oher to move in with them and began taking care of his needs after becoming familiar with his difficult personal circumstances

At that age of 16, Oher had a measured I.Q. of 80, which put him in mankind’s ninth percentile. An aptitude test he took in eighth grade measured his “ability to learn” and placed him in the sixth percentile. He had finished his sophomore year with a 0.9. A better performance at the back end of his junior year, when he moved into the Tuohy home, raised his cumulative average to 1.564.

The Tuohy family connected him with a tutor, who worked with him for twenty hours a week, eventually bringing his low-D performance up to a 2.05 grade point average. A series of internet-based courses from Brigham Young University served as replacements for poor marks earned earlier in his academic career, enabling him to become eligible to play football in college.

After receiving scholarship offers from the University of Tennessee, Louisiana State University, the University of Alabama, and North Carolina State University, among others, Oher ultimately decided to attend the University of Mississippi, the Tuohys’ alma mater.

Oher started in 10 games as a guard during his first season with Mississippi, becoming a first-team freshman All American. He shifted to his natural position of left tackle for the 2006 season, and was named to a variety of preseason All-Conference and All-American teams. He currently has a listed height of 6’6″ and a listed weight of 322 pounds. He was named a second-team SEC offensive lineman after his sophomore season and a first-team SEC offensive lineman after his junior season.

Last January, he declared for the NFL draft before deciding to change his mind and return to Ole Miss for his final season. He is projected to be a quality first round draft pick in the 2009 NFL Draft that is starting today in about an hour.

Once again, the entire story is available through New York Times: The Ballad of Big Mike.