Lamar High School: “Once A Redskin, Always A Redskin.”
There’s a saying at Lamar High School in Houston, that once you suit up as a member of the Redskins football team, you’re a Redskin for life.
That has proven especially true for Lamar alum
Redskins.comTV caught up with his high school football coach, Tom Nolen, who has been the head football coach at Lamar High School for the last 28 years.
Nolen discussed the mercurial rise of the undersized linebacker with the deep voice, but first shared his thoughts on how the Redskins mascot that has become synonymous with high school football success in Texas.
“Our school is 75 years old and there’s a lot of pride in it,” he explained. “I think it’s a great mascot, as all of the traits of a Redskins warrior are something to be admired.
“I’ve lived in Houston all my life and for this school to be called anything else would seem extremely strange.”
Last year, Nolen coached his team to a 15-1 record and to within one game of the Texas 5A Division 1 state championship.
This is not the first talented roster that Nolen has coached, as he now has three players in the NFL: Orakpo, Cleveland Browns receiver Josh Gordon and Carolina Panthers receiver Brandon LaFell.
“We’ve been really blessed to have some good players come through here,” Nolen said with pride. “It’s always a good day to be a Redskin.”
Although Nolen could tell that Orakpo had the skills necessary to make it to the NFL, it was hard to predict Orakpo would change body composition so drastically during his time at the University of Texas.
“Brian’s actually a great story, in that he was actually a year ahead in school, so he was actually a year younger [than his peers],” Nolen recalled. “As a senior in high school, he was probably 6-2, 210-205, somewhere in there, just a tall, lean kid.”
Nolen also serves as the athletic director at Lamar, and watched Orakpo excel at basketball with his speed and quickness. He said the potential for greatness was always there for Orakpo.
“You kind of knew that he was going to mature, and he certainly had the ability,” he said. “But nobody knew that he was going to go to Texas and put on another 50 pounds, win the Lombardi Award, be a first-round draft pick and a Pro Bowler.
“He’s just a wonderful person, and has all of the characteristics that all the great players have.”