Keith Ford's remarkable senior season blazed new trails at Cypress Ranch High School.
The 5-year old school — in its third season of varsity football — made its first playoff appearance, and stunned the Texas high school football world by reaching the fourth round.
Ford also earned the highest of praise from his well-traveled and highly successful coach.
“He's the best,” said Cypress Ranch coach Gene Johnson. “I've been coaching 15 years in the state of Texas. Been a head coach 12 seasons. I've signed quite a few kids ... sent kids all over. And he's the best.”
Ford, who rushed for more than 1,700 yards and 20 touchdowns as a senior, is expected to sign a National Letter of Intent with Oklahoma on Wednesday morning.
The four-star prospect — ranked by Rivals as the nation's 48th-best overall prospect — is the Sooners' only 2013 running back commitment.
With senior Damien Williams returning as the Sooners' starting running back, along with senior Brennan Clay and redshirt freshmen Alex Ross, David Smith and Daniel Brooks, Ford appears likely to redshirt next season in Norman.
“At the end of the day, it's a place he felt comfortable,” Johnson said. “He felt like the proper support was there for him to be successful academically and athletically.
“You go to Oklahoma, and a portion of it has to be the track record of producing great players, especially at the running back position.”
Ford highly enhanced his own reputation during Cypress Ranch's historic 2012 season.
After clinching their first-ever playoff berth, the Mustangs won two straight postseason games to set up a third-round showdown with Manvel, which entered the game 11-1.
The Mustangs' impressive playoff run appeared over with less than three minutes remaining that night, when Manvel held what appeared to be a comfortable 42-28 lead.
But Ford gained 34 yards on a screen pass, setting up a Mustangs touchdown. Ford took an option pitch for a successful 2-point conversion to bring Cypress Ranch within six.
An onside kick, Ford's 36-yard reception and 5-yard touchdown run with 11 seconds remaining gave Cypress Ranch an incredible come-from-behind victory, during which the future Sooner accounted for 278 total yards and two touchdowns.
“Keith is an exceptional player,” Johnson said. “He's a very hard, physical running back, and also has the ability to make people miss.
“He's a hard worker ... I do think he's gotten better throughout his career here because of that hard work.”
The Mustangs' storybook season came to an end the next week, when they lost to OU defensive end commitment Matt Dimon and eventual champion Katy.
Following the season, Ford returned a kickoff 64 yards in the Under Armour All-America game, and shot up 65 spots to No. 48 in Rivals' final 2013 player rankings. He is Oklahoma's only 2013 commitment in the Rivals100 rankings.
“I'm sure those rankings are nice and flattering,” Johnson said. “But that's far from why Keith plays.”
Last week, OU running backs coach Cale Gundy visited Cypress Ranch to watch Ford play basketball. After the visit, Gundy called Cody Thomas, Oklahoma's 2013 quarterback commitment from Colleyville Heritage.
“He said he looked a little odd out there with his thick neck and everything,” Thomas remembered with a laugh. “He said he didn't look like a basketball player, but said he was unbelievably athletic.
“I've watched all his highlight tapes and everything. I can see him doing huge things for us.”