COLUMBIA – Tedder Easton was playing basketball. Rock Bridge High School football coach A.J. Ofodile was only following a tip.
And that is how the two met.
Easton was participating in a Rock Bridge basketball camp the summer before his freshman year when Ofodile saw him. Ofodile quickly asked Easton to play football for the Bruins.
No. 3 Blue Springs (8-1, 1-1) vs. Rock Bridge (1-8, 0-2)
WHEN: 7 p.m.
WHERE: Rock Bridge Field
RADIO: KFRU/1400 AM
“He was so big and intimidating then,” Easton said. “Being that young, I didn’t know if I should say no to this guy. He’s still intimidating. I wasn’t even going to play football in high school.”
He began playing for Rock Bridge that fall. Tonight is the senior's final game as a Bruin.
“He was a kid who was really good athletically,” Ofodile said of his first impressions. “He had big hands and an athletic build.”
That build developed early in Easton’s life. Because of his weight, he was restricted to playing lineman in the Columbia Youth Football League.
And he thought he would grow bigger still.
“I’ve been 5-10 or 5-11 since eighth grade,” he said. “I always thought I was going to be a 6-5 or 6-6 monster. If I was, I’d probably be more focused on basketball.”
Since that growth spurt never happened, Easton focused on football but never on a single position.
He began this season as Rock Bridge’s short-yardage back before later playing defensive end, defensive tackle, linebacker and offensive guard. He expects to start at center tonight.
Those position switches have contributed to seven different jersey numbers (4, 40, 53, 54, 58, 75, and 51 tonight) over 10 games.
“My mom always tells me she doesn’t know what number I am,” he said. “I call her before every game and tell her.”
No. 53 is special to Easton because both he and fellow lineman Okoye West have shared it.
“When I first came here, people said, 'You two look alike,' ” West said. “They started calling me his little brother. The whole school believes (we are brothers). We throw some wrinkles in there every once in a while, but our stories are good.”
Once, their cover was nearly blown.
“One girl drilled me for 20 minutes with questions,” West said. “I was not ready for that. I was just making up answers off the top of my head.”
Easton interrupts him.
“It wasn’t that bad,” he said.
“That’s because she wasn’t asking you nothing,” West said.
Like some brothers do, the two play Madden football games on Easton’s Xbox and often debate the score.
“Didn’t I beat you 52-7?” Easton said.
“No way,” West said. “I was leading going into the third quarter by two (touchdowns).”
The two finally settled at 34-21, Easton’s Denver Broncos defeating West’s Cincinnati Bengals.
“Once football season is over, " West said, "we’ll be playing a lot more."