Jan. 20—Smithville's Barker O'Brian got the opportunity of a lifetime last Monday as he traveled to Arlington, Texas to compete in the Dream All-American football game.
The selection process took place in May after O'Brian showcased his skills at a camp at Oxford High School. After his strong performance at the camp, O'Brian said that he was confident that he would be one of the few players selected.
"I felt pretty confident leaving the camp that I would be selected as a top performer," he said. "Not to be cocky or anything, but I feel like I had proven myself in front of the skill base that was selected throughout the camp. I think only about 10 or 12 kids were selected from the camp, so it was an honor to be selected."
While being met with frigid temperatures once arriving in Arlington, O'Brian was put to the test early by participating in a combine and a team practice before the big game on Monday.
"On Sunday, we had a four-hour combine and a three-hour practice," he said. "During the practice, it felt like it was 1 degree outside, and the very next morning, it was extremely cold again when we woke up. Everybody was freezing, but it was fun, and the second day wasn't as bad as the first."
O'Brian showed the speed and agility in the combine that made him a successful receiver for the Seminoles during his career, posting a 4.3 shuttle time. He described last Monday's game as a surreal moment, getting the opportunity to play at AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys.
"I came in with the mindset to just have fun and if it was going to be my last game, I'd love for it to be in the Cowboys' stadium," he said. "It was pretty surreal and all I could think about was looking around the stadium and seeing how everything goes down in the NFL. I had a great experience out there and it was really fun and eye-opening."
O'Brian finished the game with a pair of catches, and he stated that his most memorable moment of the all-star event was getting to meet and compete against other talented athletes outside of Mississippi.
"It was pretty cool to meet a whole bunch of new people around the country from Minnesota, Georgia and a bunch of other places," he said. "There's a lot of football outside of 1A in Mississippi, and I learned that they hit a lot harder in 6A and 7A ball. They didn't hit me that hard in the game, but I could just tell by the way their force was that they hit way harder than 1A competition. It was just a fun, eye-opening experience, and I'm really grateful for the opportunity."