Michael Gordon (Camden, Miss./Velma Jackson) got a second chance and he's making the most of it. Early in his high school career, the senior running back was kicked off his high school team.
"Michael was really good at a younger age and in middle school," said Cedrick Wilder, Velma Jackson's coach. "He came here as a ninth-grader with the big head and bad attitude. He didn't want to work, so I told him to get off my field. I kicked him off the team."
That was the best thing that ever happened to Gordon. And he knows it.
"It was," Gordon said. "Absolutely. I did come in with the big head, and I didn't want to practice. So I got booted from the team and knew I messed up. I messed up bad and things have been completely different since. After that football season, I got on the track team and proved I wanted to work. I eventually got back on the football team the next season. I told coach that I would be the man."
Gordon, nicknamed Flash, is now a speedy three-star recruit ranked No. 13 in the state of Mississippi and the No. 40 running back prospect overall. He's also one of the fastest and strongest players in Mississippi. At 5-foot-9 and 185 pounds, he runs the 100-meter dash in 10.8 seconds and is one of the top power lifters, bench pressing 315 pounds, squatting 490 pounds and dead lifting 605.
"I think the state record in the dead lift is 635, and I want to break it," Gordon said. "That's a goal this year, for sure. I also won South State in the 100 meters, and I run the 200 (22.1 seconds) and all the relays."
As a sophomore and junior, in a backup role, Gordon rushed for 600 and 1,000 yards respectively. This season he has exploded for more than 2,000 all-purpose yards, including 1,837 rushing yards and 34 touchdowns on the ground in the first nine games.
He then exploded last week for 458 yards and eight touchdowns this past Friday night.
"Flash then completely took over," Wilder said. "He just went off. The offensive line blocked well, but he hit the holes and set up everything beautifully. It was amazing to witness that. He ran through people and just flat-out ran away from guys.
"Michael is so fast and so strong. He's a big weight room guy, and he works so hard at it. Our entire team does and his teammates really push him because they want to see him move on and succeed. I have a great senior class of kids."
Gordon's speed is his main attribute as a runner. In fact, he has wowed the Falcons fans so much they began to call him Flash. He loves it and so did their PA announcer Devin Strange.
"All of a sudden our PA guy started calling me Flash at our home games," said Gordon with a wide smile. "It took a while to get used to it but now I kind of like it. Really, it's kind of crazy if you really think about it."
Gordon has also grown so much off the field.
"Michael has turned into a very mature young man," his coach said. "Ask his teachers and people around here. They all speak so highly of him. For Michael, he had to grow up a little faster than most."
Being kicked off the team was a pretty big event for Gordon and something that made him a better person and player. But something else happened that made him look differently at life and growing up in the small town of Camden, his mom moved to Chicago and left him with his grandma.
"At that point, I knew I had to learn to stay focused," Gordon said. "That was hard. It is hard. It's my mom. But we talk every night. She visits twice a month. My grandmother is great. She's the person I talk with the most and who I am so close to."
With the numbers Gordon's putting up and his grades (3.2 GPA), it makes you wonder why he's not garnering more attention from the college football programs. Right now, Memphis, Arkansas State, UAB and Southern Miss have offered him but other schools have still not jumped in.
"He didn't camp anywhere this summer because he injured his hamstring running a relay during track, at the end," Wilder said. "I think that hurt him. Personally, I think he's the best running back in Mississippi. Flash has outstanding speed and can run between the tackles. He's played against some good competition and against some big boys and big defenses.
"Teams like Georgia Tech, LSU, Mississippi State, Georgia and others have all requested game film from this season."
Gordon has a lot to smile about these days. He knows there will be a next level for him he just doesn't know where yet.
"I know I will set up an official visit to Memphis," Gordon said. "I just haven't done it yet. They are recruiting me real hard. I would like to see Georgia Tech for sure and maybe LSU. I just need to see what happens."
Jamie Newberg has been covering recruiting both in the Southeast and nationally for 19 years. He can be reached at email@example.com.