GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas — Football fans across Grand Prairie continue buzzing about the 2020 NFL Draft. Many of those connected to South Grand Prairie High School are calling it a proud moment, as they watched Jeff Okudah drafted by the Detroit Lions in the first round.
"People are thrilled for Jeff and it reflects good on us," Coach Brent Whitson said.
Whitson is the head football coach and athletics coordinator at South Grand Prairie High School. He was among those closely watching to hear Commissioner Roger Goodell call out Okudah’s name.
”Well, we kind of expected it to be Detroit and third,” Whitson said. “We got a little nervous when they were floating some trades around.”
Whitson believes Okudah is, perhaps, the first Warrior alum to make it to the NFL as a first round draft pick. He recalls Okudah talking about his NFL dreams, ever since meeting him in eighth grade.
“Since the day Jeff walked on our campus, his maturity is what made him stand out. You know, everybody has goals and can put things out there in front of them, but Jeff was always so mature about the way he talked about it, and then the way he went about his work to achieve it," Whitson recalled.
Supporters say the NFL corner back's drive was obvious early on.
Okudah says his focus came from watching his mom and her battle with cancer.
“While she was doing chemotherapy, she was still in nursing school, and just seeing that it just instilled a work ethic," Okudah said.
The athlete chose his college, Ohio State, because he knew they produced NFL prospects, and because it was no-joke academically, according to Whitson.
On Friday, Okudah told his Twitter followers, “It was all worth it.”
Whitson says his phone has been ringing non-stop since Okudah’s good news. He says he is surprised so many people are calling to congratulate South Grand Prairie.
“We hope that we were significant in grooming him as a person,” Whitson shared.