Dallas Cowboys draft Flower Mound HS football star, James Hanna

Hanna honed skills in a Big 12 football program, but it all began in humbler circumstances. Photo: James Hanna & Coach Brake in Africa

Flower Mound TX, May 5, 2012—The Dallas Cowboys drafted James Hanna, the powerful tight end from the University of Oklahoma. Jerry Jones, owner of the storied franchise, makes it known that he wants to draft talented players with good character. Dallas’ 6th round choice of James Hanna fulfills both requirements. 

James comes to the Cowboys with great credentials earned at Flower Mound high school and the University of Oklahoma. In 2011 he was named All-Big 12 second team by the Associated Press and coaches with a resume that included 25 receptions, 363 yards, and two touchdowns on a football team featuring wide receivers rather than tight ends. In 2010 as a junior he received All-Big 12 honorable mention after a season yielding 292 yards and seven touch downs. 

Dallas head coach, Jason Garrett enthusiastically rehearsed James’ potential characterizing him as fast and athletic. Hanna startled the scouts when he ran a 4.46 40, the fastest time among all tight ends at the pro football combines. Despite his 252 pound 6’4” frame he was nimble on foot with a vertical leap of 36 inches.

At Flower Mound high school James was selected to the Texas Sports Writers’ All-State team honorable mention. Playing as a wide receiver, he hauled in 53 catches for 765 yards and 11 touch downs. Rated by ESPN as the 13th tight end in the nation, James caught the eye of D-1 college recruiters.

Unlike most drafted players James’ football career began in a small private Christian school, Coram Deo Academy in Flower Mound, TX. The first signs of his potential surfaced when he played Texas six-man football. His first coach at Coram Deo, Donnie Brake recalls the success the team enjoyed while James played. The school’s first Texas Christian Athletic Fellowship state high school championship (11-1) lined James up as a running back, wide receiver, line backer, and defensive end.  Even as a gangly teenager, his speed and size were his greatest weapons.

The other side of James’ appeal to the Cowboys is his character. As one reporter put it, “Jerry won’t lie awake at night wondering whether or not his draftee is getting into trouble.” James is a mild mannered kid who knows the value of a good character.

James’ character was molded early by the guidance of his godly parents.  His first schooling, including his freshman and sophomore high school years, was spent studying in a Christian atmosphere with an academically rigorous curriculum. He demonstrated an aptitude for studies as well as athletic promise. 

James may not do a “Tebow” after every touchdown, but he quietly credits his creator for gifting him physically by the genetic heritage of his mother and father.

At a young age James voiced his interest in Christianity. Between his Flower Mound high school and University of Oklahoma football experience, James took time for a short-term mission assignment in Sudan, Africa with Sudan Evangelical Alliance Partners.

James helped build elementary classrooms and developed relationships with the young Sudanese. James’ African experience reinforced his belief that God had blessed him in an unusual way. Not only with material things, but in an environment that gave him the best opportunity for life. His experience in Africa deepened his compassion for those who have so little while they face violence and warfare nearly every day.   

From a small school with barely enough players for six-man football to the Dallas Cowboys, James has a lot for which to be thankful. His childhood dream was to play with the University of Oklahoma and the Dallas Cowboys—the April 28 draft fulfilled James’ dream.

The Cowboys have drafted an unusually talented young man with a zest for life and will be a welcomed influence on the roster at Valley Ranch.

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Donald L. Brake, Sr.

Donald L. Brake, Ph.D., is Dean Emeritus of Multnomah Biblical Seminary, past president of Jerusalem University College, Israel; author of A Visual History of the English Bible: The Tumultuous Tale of The World’s Bestselling Book; Baker Books, 2008 (a 2009 ECPA Christian Book Award finalist), A Visual History of the King James Bible: The Dramatic Tale of the World’s Best-Known Translation, Baker Books, 2011, A Royal Monument of English Literature: The King James Bible 1611, Credo House Publishers, 2011; and antiquarian collector with his extensive collection of rare and significant Bibles and artifacts currently at the Dunham Bible Museum, Houston Baptist University, Houston, Texas.


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