The first time Reggie Hemphill-Mapps touched the ball in a peewee football game, he scored a touchdown.
He was no older than seven-years-old.
“The coach’s son got hurt and he put me in the game,” Hemphill recalled of his first game action.
“The ball came right to me and I scored on that first play because nobody could catch me. I was about six or seven at the time.”
He would soon get accustomed to people not being able to catch him.
A dual-sport athlete from Manvel, Texas, Hemphill succeeded both on the football field and in track.
He was the No. 39 wide receiver prospect nationally in the 2016 recruiting cycle, helped lead Manvel track and field to its first state championship in school history in 2015 and won the gold in the 4x200 meter relay in 2016.
His mentality is simple: Losing is not an option.
“I’m just a competitor. I hate losing. I work so hard, and my teams work so hard, so we shouldn’t lose. We put in the work to win. That’s the way I approach it.”
Hemphill has seen a lot of success in his young life. He was the youngest prospect to ever verbally commit to Texas, which is something he holds dear to his heart.
“I didn’t know how big it was,” he said of being the youngest verbal pledge in school history. “I was just excited to get my college paid for.
“Then I started realizing kids get offered at a younger and younger age, so I feel special because I kind of feel like I was one of the first to start that off.”
Following the staff changes in 2014, Hemphill decommitted from the University of Texas while Charlie Strong and his staff re-evaluated the 2015 and 2016 recruiting classes. But he quickly realized Texas was the place for him.
“I decommitted to see what else was out there and to enjoy the recruiting experience,” he said.
“The coaches really didn’t have to say much to bring me back. I saw how all of the players reacted to Coach Strong and how they really bought in to him. All of the coaches are family oriented guys so I wanted to come play for them”
Hemphill has since enrolled and has begun his college career. But his journey to the University of Texas was nowhere near a piece of cake.
The middle of nine children, Hemphill has encountered tragedies in his life most people hope to never experience.
One of the most horrific events occurred in February, 2015 when his father was robbed, shot and murdered in Houston.
“For me, I didn’t want to show weakness,” Hemphill said of the tragic loss. “I felt like I had to stay strong for my brothers and my mother. I really didn’t have much time to mourn the loss.”
One of the more difficult moments was watching his mother, who is his role model, mourn the loss of his father.
“It was hard to see my mother go through that mourning stage where she was just depressed and tired. We didn’t know what we would do because he was the breadwinner of the house, so we were struggling a lot.
“But she made things happen when it didn’t seem like it could. She’s a role model to me. She is strong, independent, caring and loving. She always wanted to adopt or take in kids that need help. She’s a great woman.”
With a role model like that, Hemphill wants nothing more than to repay his mother by taking advantage of the opportunity he has with his playing career at Texas.
“I’m just trying to make it out from where I am now. I want to make sure I am taken care of and my family is taken care of,” he said.
“I want to make it out and help my family get out too. I have a great chance of doing that so I am going to capitalize on it.”