The Recruiting Guy:

Sage advice: Don't follow Hogs commit Hanspard

By: Richard Davenport Richard Davenport's Twitter account
Published: Sunday, October 1, 2017
Byron Hanspard Jr at the 2016 Nike Football The Opening Regional in Dallas.
Byron Hanspard Jr at the 2016 Nike Football The Opening Regional in Dallas.

When DeSoto High School football Coach Todd Peterman prepares to makes a pre-game speech, he's learned not to follow Arkansas Razorback cornerback commitment Byron Hanspard Jr.

Hanspard is the engaging and charismatic leader of the defending Texas Class 6A Division II DeSoto Eagles. Prior to their 41-36 victory over Dallas Jesuit in the first game of the season, Hanspard made an impromptu speech to the team and Peterman had the unfortunate task of following the Razorback pledge.

"He went in front of me. I was like, 'Dadgum. What am I suppose to do now?' " Peterman said. "It wasn't a comedy show, but you don't want to follow Eddie Murphy or Richard Pryor."

The following Thursday, the Eagles were on the road about to take on Denton Guyer, and in another impromptu speech Hanspard fired up the team and the coaches, including assistant head coach and special teams coordinator Courtney Sterling while Peterman was waiting in a nearby office to talk.

"I hear B.J. going again," Peterman said. "Coach Sterling comes in to get me and he has tears in his eyes. (Hanspard) brought a coach to tears and I'm like going 'I'm supposed to follow that?' So I just walked out and said, 'Alright, lets go.' "

Peterman made sure to plan ahead in order to avoid following Hanspard again.

"I said 'Son, I'll give you time, but I'm going to speak first and then you go,' " Peterman said. " 'If you need a weekly thing, I'm cool with that because we're not going to keep doing that because I have nothing. I have nothing.'

"Yeah, I'm not following him anymore. He goes behind me."

Hanspard's natural leadership abilities allows him to capture the attention of anyone he comes in contact with.

"He's incredibly special and very articulate and it's not a show," Peterman said. "It's real.

"Arkansas got a good one. They're lucky. He's not just a good player."

His parents, Byron Sr. and Yolanda, have raised him and their two younger sons with high expectations.

"I'm definitely grateful for my parents, they're definitely my biggest support system," Hanspard said.

The future Razorback has led Bible study every Thursday morning at the school for two years. He said he believes his keen ability to communicate comes from his mother.

"A lot of times people say during my interviews 'Can you slow down because you like to talk really fast,' " Hanspard said. "I never take offense to that because it's just something I've been gifted with."

Hanspard understands and embraces the responsibility of being a high-profile athlete and how he can make a positive impact.

"I know the way I'm carrying myself someone is watching," Hanspard said. "There's someone always in the corner, behind me, in front of me that's always looking to try and pick up something they can use to better themselves. I'm not prefect, I make mistakes, but I'm always trying to be on my P's and Q's."

He often offers up encouragement and biblical wisdom to people in need.

"I always take the leadership job I have very seriously," Hanspard said. "I never asked for it. It just came natural."

Hanspard almost never had the chance to live the life he has today. Yolanda was diagnosed with Crohn's disease while pregnant with him and came close to losing him three times. The third time doctors tried to prepare her for the worst after she fell, which caused her to go into labor, and the doctors struggled to stop her from having contractions.

"They said we have to save you and I said no, we're both going to make it through this," she said. "Anything that's going to jeopardize our son I'm not for it. It seemed like such a struggle to get him here, but every time the doctor would say you have a little fighter in there."

Byron and Yolanda knew junior was special when he was about five years old when he would often sing with the church choir. Yolanda recalls another time when he was eight years old and was selected to give a speech at school and church following the election of former President Barack Obama at school.

"Even the adults were like wow, he sounds like a little preacher," she said. "It's not just saying what's in the book, but he's able to give meaning. That was my wow moment."

Byron Sr., who played running back at Texas Tech and won the Doak Walker Award in 1996, is an ordained minister. He said he's proud how his son has befriended several special needs students at the school.

"He's not embarrassed where some kids will talk about those kids," Byron Sr. said. "He understands those kids didn't have a choice in how they were birthed into this world."

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