In the piney woods of East Texas, the football traditions and history are rich, and the talent is deep. Growing up, Jalen Overstreet was well aware of the background, as the Overstreet family legacy extends as far as any on the East Texas gridiron.
In 1973, Jalen's great uncle David Overstreet, who eventually played at Oklahoma and in the NFL, began etching his name into the history books as he led Big Sandy to three-straight state championships, setting records and amazing audiences along the way.
Over the years the family legacy has continued. Jalen's father Anthony Overstreet was a standout at Tatum before his days at Baylor. His uncle Stephen Hodge was a standout quarterback for Tatum before heading to safety with TCU and the Dallas Cowboys.
Then, on his mother's side of the family, the athleticism continues with cousin Denarius Moore, who was a standout at Tatum before playing college ball at Tennessee and now in the NFL with the Oakland Raiders.
Football is in the blood, and as an Overstreet there are certain expectations on the field. However, Jalen is not bothered as he follows the advice of those who have come before him.
"They said to play my game. Don't try to play like anyone else," Overstreet said. "Just play my game and the rest will happen."
The rest has certainly happened for Jalen Overstreet. As a senior, he completed 86-of-168 passes for 1,471 yards and 13 TDs while running for 1,190 yards and 23 TDs on 185 carries. Over his two years at quarterback, he has helped guide Tatum to a 24-4 overall record and a quarterfinal and a semifinal finish in the 2A Division I playoffs.
Growing up, Overstreet immediately caught everyone's attention. He played all over the field, but he knew where he always wanted to play.
"Growing up I played different positions all over the field, but I always knew I wanted to be a quarterback and not just an athlete," he said. "I've always been a quarterback. It was a big deal to me. I worked at it. I worked at being good at the position."
He made his way to college camps at Baylor, TCU and Texas trying to learn the tools he needed to be a college quarterback. Overstreet learned the mechanics and footwork, but there are a couple of aspects of his game he has focused on improving a little more.
"Consistency and leadership, it gets you a long way," he said. "I want my team to be able to depend on me at any moment at any time. Even if I wasn't a leader vocally I wanted to show leadership through my actions."
There have been a few quarterbacks which Overstreet has kept a close eye on over the last few years.
"My favorite quarterbacks to watch over these past years have been Robert Griffin and Cam Newton," he said. "I'm not built like Cam. I can see my build very similar to Robert.
"I love the intensity and love for the game Cam plays with. You can just tell from watching him. You can tell how much it means to him and that means a lot to me. Robert Griffin, he's really a great quarterback and just so happens to be a great athlete. He's gotten out of that label of being an athlete on the field who plays quarterback. He is a great quarterback and not just an athlete and I respect that."
As a young quarterback-to-be, there was another source of inspiration
"Growing up, I was a major Texas football fan," Overstreet said."Especially when Vince Young was playing. That gives you hope being a quarterback with my skill set."
Now Overstreet is preparing to join his childhood favorite as a member of the Texas Longhorn family. He chose Texas over offers from Kansas, Baylor, Texas Tech, Michigan, Arkansas and Missouri. Kansas, Baylor and Texas Tech each offered him the opportunity to play quarterback, but when the Longhorns offered there was not a doubt in his mind where he would head to college.
"It was surreal. I don't know how to explain it with words. It was great. I don't know. It was exciting," Overstreet said. "It was exciting to know that a program like that actually wanted someone like me. To know they could've gone anywhere else to get someone to be quarterback but they wanted me. It felt good."
There were a lot of reasons he chose the Longhorns, but offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin's honesty went a long way with the Tatum standout.
"It's because he shot straight with me on everything," Overstreet said. "In the beginning he told me he wasn't making any promises as far as offering, but he let me know they were looking at me and recruiting me. Everything has been just so straight forward. He told me the expectations. I just like how up front and honest he was through the whole process.
"A lot of guys you can tell they're trying to sell their program to you and it's their job but he told me we want you here but if you don't want to be here we'll look elsewhere. I just like how honest he was about everything."
Overstreet is excited about the future ahead and is looking forward to getting to work as a Texas Longhorn quarterback. He will take his official visit to Austin January 20. He is currently ranked No. 66 in the Lone Star Recruiting's 2012 Top 100.