It was a year full of surprises.
The biggest sports headline in the Crossroads may have been the 2012 NFL draft. Big Spring native and Texas A&M alum Ryan Tannehill was chosen as the eighth overall pick by the Miami Dolphins to add some stability to the vaunted quarterback position.
While the locals may have had faith in Tannehill, many sports world talking heads remained skeptical. Boy, were they wrong.
Tannehill may not have sizzled in the rookie record realm, but he showed he had the leadership qualities to direct a pro squad and the determination to win.
In his his first year, Tannehill racked up more than 3,000 yards for Miami and completed nearly 60 percent of his passes. He helped guide the Dolphins to a 7-9 record, a one-game improvement from 2011. Two of the losses came in overtime. Not bad for a first-timer many had written off as a pipe dream selection at the QB position.
During his time in Big Spring, Tannehill helped guide the Steers to playoff contention. In his senior year (Class of ‘06), BSHS went three rounds deep into the Class 4-A playoffs, with Tannehill racking up 1,258 passing yards and 617 rushing yards.
Tannehill’s parents, Tim and Cheryl, are both Texas Technical University alumni. Growing up a TTU fan, that’s where Tannehill had hoped to play college ball, but the Red Raiders didn’t recruit him. He was looked at by several schools, including TCU, Houston and UTEP, but decided Texas A&M was a good fit.
Originally, the Aggies played Tannehill at wide receiver for his first two years at A&M, but he was converted back to quarterback midway through his junior year, and finished with an overall record of 12-7 as starting quarterback.
He also appeared in three bowl games, earning a win for A&M when they defeated Northwestern by a score of 33-22 at the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas last season.
Tannehill is more than just a football player.
According to BSHS Principal and avid football fan Mike Ritchie, Tannehill is a class act on and off the field.
“I have watched (Tannehill) grow up,” Ritchie said. “He epitomizes the student athlete. He was third in his class. He went about his business academically. He was a well-rounded kid.”
Tannehill received a bachelor’s in biology from A&M and plans to attend medical school to become an orthopedic surgeon.
Given his impressive debut as a NFL QB, med school may be on hold for a while.
“He’s got everything you would want in an NFL quarterback,” Ritchie said. He belongs in the top three. The league is transitioning from a running power league to a passing league. The buzzword these days is the franchise label. And I think a lot of teams wouldn’t want to miss an opportunity to draft someone like Tannehill.”
Ritchie compares Tannehill to another great Texas quarterback — Troy Aikman — the former gunslinger for the Dallas Cowboys.
“I liken him to Aikmen,” Ritchie explained. “He has that type of physical look and a strong arm. And I have had the opportunity to see him play, and I’ve seen the intangibles he can bring.”
The Tannehill family is a family of athletes. But Ritchie believes that in addition to raising stellar competitors, Tim and Cheryl Tanehill have raised great kids.
Ryan’s younger brother Tyler shined for the Steers during his time on the varsity squad. He may have had a chance to play college ball if it weren’t for multiple knee injuries that hampered his prospects.
Tobyn Tannehill, a sophomore, is the youngest of the three brothers and like his siblings, is involved with sports as well.
The youngest Tannehill also had a stellar debut as a quarterback — for the Big Spring Steers — leading BSHS to its first win dating back to 2010 in the opening game of the 2012 season — a 49-0 shellacking of Fort Stockton.
The Steers won their first five games — an impressive feat from a team which went winless during the entire 2011 season.
Though stiff district adversity halted the Steers at 5-5 on the year, Head Coach Phillip Ritchey has plenty of faith in his budding QB.
“(Tannehill) is very mature,” Ritchey said. “He always does what is asked of him and he became a leader out there for us.”
Other athletes not named Tannehill collected accolades throughout the year also.
The Lady Steer volleyball team made it three rounds deep in the postseason before being eliminated in a close match against Lubbock Copper.
Carson Reibe was named Defensive Specialist of the Year when District 4-3A honors were handed out and also garnered an All-State award for her role on defense.
The Steer baseball squad earned a postseason berth also. BSHS made it to the second round of the playoffs after their best season in several and will be returning a slew of starters including sophomore hurler Adam Franco.
Some milestones were also set for BSHS, most notably, the Lady Steer track & field team, who unseated Abilene Wylie for the first time in over 20 years to win district, then went on to dominate at regionals and pull a runner-up designation from the state championship in Austin.
The BSHS golf squad also did well, earning a trip to state after winning district and turning in a strong regional showing.
Head Golf Coach Chris Joslin expects another strong year in 2013, as he will be returning all of his golfers.
Howard College also fared well on the diamond. The baseball team made it to the regional championship before falling to rival Cisco and the softball athletes — led offensively by the nations’ home run leader — sophomore Olive Naotala — made it as far as the JUCO national championship tournry in St. George, Utah before being eliminated.
The lone state title in the Crossroads area went to Forsan High School, who placed first in the state cross country meet in Round Rock.
Jeremy Cervantes finished third and Tyler Evans fourth to seal the Buff’s banner year and bring home a nice addition to the trophy case.
Forsan’s Sydney Holdampf settled for state runner-up at her second straight state tennis meet appearance. Holdampf went on to sign a letter of intent to swing the raquet for the University of Texas Permian Basin.
Former Howard College alum Jae Crowder was drafted by the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks. Crowder — the No. 34 pick overall in the draft — has already seen playing time in a back-up role for the Mavs.
The 79th Annual Cowboy Reunion and Rodeo drew enthusiastic crowds, as well as some of the top rodeo names in the nation in June.
And finally, Memorial Stadium got a much-needed facelift, as artificial turf was laid over the summer.
There is never a dull moment in the world of Crossroads sports. 2012 proved that.
And with so many talented athletes returning to fill local sports rosters, 2013 may shape up to be even more exciting for sports fans.