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Charles Tapper made football his fast track

IRVING, Texas -- In the summer between his sophomore and junior year in high school, Charles Tapper was given a choice: Play football or get a job.

His mother, Rhonda, made the demand because she did not want him sitting around the house.

On Saturday, the Dallas Cowboys selected Tapper, a defensive end from Oklahoma, in the fourth round.

“I was a basketball player,” Tapper said. “Being from Baltimore, we love basketball. Basketball in our city is huge. It’s like being a rapper or something.”

Tapper was hoping to get cut from football. He initially played wide receiver and he said he purposely ran the wrong routes or dropped passes. He wanted to get back to the basketball court.

Then he was introduced to Cory Robinson, co-founder of Next Level Nation, a Maryland-based company designed to help athletes on the field and off. Robinson asked Tapper a simple question.

“He asked me if I wanted to drive a Honda or a Lamborghini,” Tapper said.

If he stuck with basketball, he could drive a Honda. If he moved to football, he could drive a Lamborghini. Not long after meeting Robinson, Tapper attended the Army All-American Combine in San Antonio in 2011.

He dominated the competition. When he got home, he received a call from Oklahoma assistant Bobby Jack Wright, who offered him a scholarship. He initially thought it was a basketball offer.

“I performed pretty well, ran well and won a couple of one-on-ones,” Tapper said. “At the time I didn’t have any football film.”

On Saturday, Tapper said he is still raw. He had 15.5 sacks and 26.5 tackles for loss at Oklahoma. He started 38 of his final 39 games and forced four fumbles in 2015, recovering one.

“High motor, raw, passionate,” Tapper said. “I play every play going out like it’s my last. Whatever my coach tells me what to do I’ll do at 110 mph.”

Lamborghinis move fast.