Oklahoma State football: Mother's suggestion puts Alex Elkins on path to football career
OSU linebacker Alex Elkins had never played organized football before going to a Blinn College tryout that his mother found out about. He thought he might be a quarterback, but they already had one: Cam Newton.
STILLWATER — By now, the Alex Elkins story has made the rounds.
Kid with no football experience answers a cattle call to try out for two roster spots at a junior college, makes the team and eventually plays his way into a scholarship and starting linebacker role at Oklahoma State.
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And it's a grand story.
Yet only part of the story.
Just how did Elkins end up at Blinn College on that 108-degree July day in 2009?
Now that's a story.
Mother knows best
After graduation from Keller High School in a northern suburb of Fort Worth, Elkins sought clarity for the next step in his life.
Moms are good for that.
“She called me and asked me what I was going to do for college and I wasn't sure yet,” Elkins said. “I kind of play things by ear. That's kind of my fault, because sometimes I procrastinate on things.”
Elkins had actually already talked to a Navy recruiter and was intrigued.
“I wasn't sure where I was going in life,” he said. “I was kind of nervous about leaving high school and not really knowing where I was going. I like structure. I like knowing what I'm going to do. That just seemed like a good opportunity.
“I talked to a Navy recruiter and he said the baddest dudes in the world are Navy Seals. So I said, ‘That's for me.'
“If I'm going to do something, I want to go all the way.”
Laura Adamson, Elkins' mom, was on the case, too. She found a football tryout at Blinn, 220 miles away in southeastern Texas.
“She's a Googler,” Elkins said, explaining how his mom discovered this opportunity.
Never mind that Elkins had never played organized football. He had wanted to and was even recruited to play by the coach in his one year at Keller. But some life curveballs and a job move for Laura put Elkins behind in school, resulting in a repeat of his senior year. And as a fifth-year high school student, he was ruled ineligible.
Still, Elkins was an athlete. He'd played baseball and wrestled before arriving in Keller. And there he got into rugby at the local YMCA.
Adamson, like most moms, never doubted he could excel at football.
Unlike many moms, she was right.
“I've told him,'” she said, “‘If you truly believe that you can set no limits to what God can do, and always look up and believe, deep in your heart, and always push forward looking up, you can make the best out of every opportunity that you have.'”
In this case, mother and son are tighter than tight.
Family issues have galvanized their bond.
“We've been through a lot together and it's brought us closer and closer,” Adamson said.
Elkins eludes the details, but confirms their reliance on each other.
“I'm definitely a momma's boy,” he said. “She raised me the second half of my life, basically by herself. I've had some father figures, but I haven't had the father figures that some people have had. But there's people all across this world who don't have a father figure or a mother or whatever.
“She did a really good job with me. I owe her a lot of credit for who I am.”
Because of their bond, Elkins didn't flinch when Mom suggested driving off to Blinn for an opportunity that shaped up as a long shot — at best.
“Everything fell into place when my mom called me,” Elkins said. “I felt like if she believes in me to do that, why not? My mom knows my character. My mom knows I'm a very competitive individual. No matter what it is, a game or grades, I really just strive to be my best. I've never taken anything lightly in my life.
“So, hey, let's go do it. That's my mother. I trust my mom.”
Against all odds
In agreeing to make the trip to Blinn, coaches told Elkins they were expecting about 70 prospects to an open tryout for a handful of walk-on spots.
“I showed up and there were probably 260 kids,” Elkins said.
It was a crossroads of dreams — mostly pipe dreams — for all sorts of players with all sorts of stories and backgrounds, clinging to a hope of a future in the game.
Nobody had a more interesting tale than Elkins.
And few — on the surface — could have faced longer odds at emerging as one of the chosen ones through the tryout.
Not that any of it discouraged Elkins.
“I was like, ‘Geez, these guys look like some athletes,'” Elkins said. “But in the back of my head I said, ‘I'm an athlete. Why should they make it and me not? Yeah, they have experience, but I have heart. And I have the will to learn.'”
The process, from start to finish, was exhausting.
“We stood in a long line, got him registered,” Adamson said. “I went into the stands, where I sat all day and watched. It was 108 degrees that day, just burning hot in July.
“Of course, I'm watching him and believing in how Alex can perform. And it's going exceptionally well. I just knew. I felt it.”
With the workout set to begin, one coach pressed Elkins for a position. A former pitcher, Elkins figured he'd make a good passer and proclaimed himself a quarterback.
“I told them I wanted to play quarterback,” he said, clarifying the conversation. “I never actually said I was a quarterback. I had been a pitcher in baseball, so I figured, ‘I've got an arm, give me an opportunity to throw the ball.'”
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