Callins erasing doubts wtih each game

It has been a long road back for Guthrie (Okla.) High's Kai Callins, but he's made it. An exceptional senior season hasn't yet led to great things on the recruiting trail, but there's still time.

EDMOND, Okla. – All the tools were on display Friday night with Guthrie (Okla.) prospect Kai Callins. If you wanted to know if he was back 100 percent, he silenced critics one play at a time.

Callins, expected to be one of the top in-state prospects for the Class of 2014, has been under the radar all season. Offers that were expected to come his way haven't.

He's not bitter. Not depressed. Callins knows his time will come. And after all he has gone through, it's just another challenge.

Callins already accumulated three touchdowns in the first game of the season last year when he tore his ACL. Just like that, his junior season was wiped away.

He learned a lot about patience. He couldn't come back too fast and risk the possibility of injuring it again.

That's where his father came in. Reggie Callins was also in Kai's spot at one time. A promising football career derailed by a torn ACL. It ended his career. It wasn't about to ruin his son's.

"It was God's plan when I got hurt," Kai Callins said. "He knew what He was doing. My dad helped me with a lot of workouts. They were serious. You know CrossFit? For three straight months, we did nothing but CrossFit.

"It worked. It was a pain at the time, but I gained 10-15 pounds. I'm bigger, faster and stronger."

Physically he was fine, but as anybody who has dealt with a major injury like that knows, it's a mental hurdle as well.

Callins was well aware of that, too. Everything sort of all came rushing through his head as he prepared to take the field for the first time for Week 1.

"It felt like another game," Callins said. "Before the game, though, I started tearing up. It was tears of joy to be back. I wasn't worried about the knee at all. It felt like I had never been hurt."

The final test was on the field. And with each game, he is passing that with flying colors. Callins is still searching for that first offer, but Oklahoma, Arizona State and Ohio, among a few others, continue to keep tabs on his progress.

"If one ever offers, a lot of other offers are going to come in," Guthrie coach Rafe Watkins said. "I don't know what they're waiting for. If it's the knee, I don't know what they're waiting for. It's healed."

Watkins admits he eased Callins back into the swing of things. He's not worried about that anymore. In his most recent outing in a game featuring two of the top five teams in Oklahoma Class 5A football, Callins was at his best.

He rushed 20 times for 131 yards and three touchdowns in a 28-3 win against Edmond (Okla.) Deer Creek.

For the season, Callins has rushed for 997 yards and 20 touchdowns, averaging more than eight yards per carry.

"It has been a blessing to stay healthy this year because, you know, what happened last year with the short season. I don't feel like myself. I feel even better."

The signs were there in May when OU wide receivers coach Jay Norvell visited Guthrie to watch a spring practice. Watkins said Callins was doing spins and cuts again with no hesitation, was back to looking like that high profile prospect.

Norvell has been recruiting Callins since his sophomore season and has personally invited Callins to several OU home games this season.

Some recruits get a generic letter in the mail hoping they'll show up, but Norvell has gone out of his way to let Callins know he is always welcome at OU.

"He's a great guy," Callins said. "I can't say enough about him. I appreciate so much everything he has done for me. It's a blessing to be looked at by these schools after everything that's happened."

The debate is still raging on in terms of his position. Even OU isn't sure what it sees him as. He could be a running back. He could be a slot receiver. Or he could be a corner.

Callins said OU views him as a slot receiver or cornerback, leaning more toward slot receiver at this point because of how many cornerbacks the Sooners have signed in the last two years.

Callins has four interceptions this season, and Watkins said he's made them during some of the biggest moments of the season.

"We don't take him off the field," Watkins said. "He is such a special defensive player. He's a lockdown corner, the best we have."

Callins hasn't made any official visits yet and has only made unofficial visits to OU. His recruitment should pick up following the season when college coaches get a chance to view his senior film more.

Until then, Callins is just going to keep on doing what he's doing and silencing doubters one play at a time.


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