PAISLEY, Fla. ? To say that Beaumont (Texas) West Brook running back Christine Michael's stock really took off at this weekend's FBU Top Gun Showcase Camp would be an understatement.
Not only did Michael take his first airplane flight ever on Saturday when he flew from Houston to Orlando, he's been soaring over the competition in what is easily the most talented position group in the camp.
"He's got outstanding speed and quickness," said former NFL star Lorenzo White, who's coaching the running back group for FBU. "The guys we've got here are supposed to be elite, and he's really, really shown that he's one of the best in the country. You hear about these guys and you always wonder if they're really as good as everybody says.
"He's all that they've talked about. I like all the kids in our group, but he has been the most impressive in my opinion so far."
No bad for a guy who was having a few second thoughts about even showing up for the camp because he'd never even been near a plane before.
"In fact, it was my first time ever even seeing one up close in person," Michael, who is 5-foot-11 and 202 pounds, said. "I've never even really been to an airport. I wasn't too scared, but I made my dad come with me. I wasn't going to go anywhere without him."
Family is a common theme in everything Michael does.
Without his father's persistent demand for greatness, Michael may not have ranked as one of the nation's top 100 prospects, and he wouldn't be the type of person off the field that he is now.
"I don't think words can describe my dad," Michael said. "I didn't even like football when I was little. Coming in, I didn't start football until I was 13 years old. My dad has always pushed me, telling me, 'Son this is what you have. You have a blessing from God.'
"When I first came into the game, I didn't really know how to play. I wasn't that guy that was great. Then all of a sudden in high school is when it all kicked in. I started seeing things in high school that I was capable of doing. My dad has been there since day one. He's worked with me. He works a 12-hour shift, gets off late from work and he comes and pushes me hard. He's a hard worker, just the same as me."
And that hard work and desire to be the best, has helped him become one of the best.
"My dad tells me all the time, there are always guys from different states that are actually better than you or almost better than you, so you never know," Michael said.
"He always pushes me, makes me work hard just in case. I work out three times a day. When guys are at parties, hanging out with friends getting in trouble, I'm always that guy working out. Even if it's 200 pushups or 200 squats, I'm always working out to be better than the guy in the next city or the next school or the next state."
"When guys are at parties, hanging out with friends getting in trouble, I'm always that guy working out. I'm always working out to be better than the guy in the next city or the next school or the next state."
- Christine Michael
In terms of his recruitment, it'll be interesting to see if he does leave the state.
Michael is one of the most heavily recruited players in the Lone Star State, and he said distance from home is a big reason why his top three schools have emerged.
"The best way I can narrow things down, or the strategy I'm thinking about, is picking a school that's closer to home," Michael said. "That leads me to look hard at Texas A&M, the University of Texas and Louisiana State University.
"Other schools, they always tell me the same thing. 'You can come in here and start your freshman year. We have these types of academic programs.' But you're not going to find a college that doesn't have a great academic program or doesn't have a great coaching staff. But they won't have what those three have, and that's being closer to home.
"I don't want to go too far away. That's what I tell everyone. I want for my parents to come down and check on me. I want to go home when I'm needed. I just want to be certain to have a safe environment."
He thinks all three schools have their strengths.
"At LSU, I went down there not too long ago, and they have a great academic program," Michael said. "I want to major in business/real estate with my minor in broadcasting. They have really good programs in those.
"Coach (Randy) Jordan is the running back coach recruiting me at Texas A&M. We have a great relationship with him. I'm not even at the school yet, and he checks in on me. He finds ways to check in on me and make sure I'm all right. They have a great academic program as well. I also have four guys in the past two years that played at West Brook that are there now. It'd be a good chance for me to go up there and be comfortable because I've got four guys there.
"Texas is pretty good, too. They've got a great academic program as well."
While making a decision is going to be tough for Michael, it's not tough to single him out as one of the best players at the Top Gun Camp. And he's definitely glad now he took that flight to Florida.
"It was a chance to get out and see new things," he said. "I haven't been too far outside of my state, and this is a great chance to see some of the others guys that are highly recruited. I think I've more than held my own, and I've got plenty of confidence now."