Ralph Thompson became a little emotional as he began to speak at the podium.
The Maplewood High coach was just into his introduction of James Stone, his school’s nominee for the prestigious William Hume Award, given to Metro Nashville’s top high school football scholar-athlete.
“I have been dreaming about this day since about 3½ years ago,’’ said Thompson about Stone, his all-state player who became the fourth winner from his school in the 65-year history of the award. Presentations were made by Metro athletic director Scott Brunette at the Nashville City Civitan sponsored event Wednesday at Swett’s Restaurant.
“They told me there was this kid at Gra-Mar Middle School who was an outstanding player. I couldn’t wait to start working with him,’’ Thompson said, his voice beginning to crack slightly.
“What is so great about James is not his work on the football field, not even his work in the classroom, not his 24 on his first attempt at the ACT which he was disappointed in, not the 21 DI schools trying to sign him,’’ Thompson said. “One time he came into my office in tears after he had made a C – not a semester grade or a term paper – just a test.
“It’s the kind of person he is. He is one of the most kind, caring, organized people I’ve ever known, someone who is completely together,’’ Thompson said.
Stone’s resume is completely together this week – on Monday, he won the TSSAA state Class 2A Mr. Football lineman award in Murfreesboro after helping lead the Panthers to the state playoff quarterfinals.
“I’ve been very blessed to have received an award like this,’’ said the mammoth 6-4, 295-pound offensive tackle in his usual quiet manner. “And it’s an honor to represent my school with this award.’’
Asked what it meant to his school, Stone said, “It means a lot. Maplewood sometimes doesn’t get the attention it should, and I’m glad because of this we’re getting some positive attention.’’
Stone has already made visits to Notre Dame and LSU. Still high on his list are Alabama, Auburn, Vanderbilt, Tennessee and Stanford, with several visits to take in January.
“He’s without a doubt the best and most complete player I’ve ever coached,’’ said Thompson, whose lengthy dream came true Wednesday.
• Joseph Wilbert, Hunters Lane: Warrior star was a three-year letterman, captain of the team, led his team in tackles, intercepted six passes, returned three for TDs, all-district, all-region, and is an honors student.
• Devon Warfield, McGavock: The California transfer was captain of the team, and one of the leading tacklers for the Raiders and an honors student.
• John Egger, Overton: Standout offensive tackle for the Bobcats, had a 4.0 GPA, took AP honors courses, of whom Coach Terry Anderson said, “I will miss him more than any player I’ve ever coached,’’
• Jacob Moore, Pearl-Cohn: Firebirds’ ‘do-everything’ type player, he was a co-captain, on all specials team, an honors student and scored 34 on his ACT. “He is my man,’’ said Coach Tony Brunetti. “I’d go to war with him.’’
The Hume Award, named for William Hume who was a prominent Nashville attorney, recognizes a Nashville Metro player who excels in the areas of sportsmanship, scholarship and football ability. Eddie Lawrence of old West High became the first winner in 1944.