The knee to the thigh didn’t appear to be much of a big deal.
Oh sure, it hurt. But Ke’Von Ahmad thought it would subside. Just typical contact on a kickoff scrum.
It never did. In fact, it worsened. Ahmad left in the second quarter of Colleyville Heritage’s 2016 rivalry football game against Grapevine and never returned.
What was once believed to be an innocuous injury wiped out six weeks of his junior season. He could only play at 50 percent in the Class 5A Region I championship against Denton Ryan.
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“I couldn’t even bend my leg,” Ahmad said. “I walked with a limp for a while. It was probably the most pain that I’ve ever experienced.”
The injury was diagnosed as calcifying of blood around the muscle. That caused the limp and discomfort. Ahmad appreciated his health and opportunity to play again when he became 100 percent.
As a senior team captain, Ahmad’s naturally driven in 2017. He also has the skill set to help the Panthers break barriers and push beyond their appearance in the 2016 Class 5A Division I state quarterfinals.
The toe-tap catch against Aledo was unbelievable. When you see him turn it up like he has, you’re going to get his best.
Heritage coach Joe Willis on Ke’Von Ahmad
His 4.5 speed has returned. Ahmad just missed the Class 5A state track and field meet in May in the 100-meters. However, he still ran a personal record 10.47.
Now, he’s put together a banner start. A 270-yard performance against Frisco Legacy — believed to be a single-game school record — has ignited 39 receptions for 524 yards and two touchdowns.
“The biggest thing is that he’s had a great offseason,” Colleyville Heritage coach Joe Willis said. “Running track really made a difference in his confidence. Where I saw his growth is that he didn’t ask people to do things that he wouldn’t do himself. When you find your voice and show the example, it makes a difference. He did not miss a day this summer.”
Speed has always his trademark. However, Ahmad’s hands have been as reliable as they come.
He doesn’t fight the football. He absorbs it. That allows him to make the difficult reception the standard. Witness the tiptoe sideline catch he made in the 38-21 season opening loss at Aledo.
There’s also a little shake that can allow him to miss defenders and grab extra yards.
“I’m hungrier and want to make the most of it,” Ahmad said. “I feel myself buying into the urgency every day. I’m running better routes. I’m looking at everything to make stronger decisions. I’m not trying to be faster. I just want to be at a higher level.”
That’s how the good receivers reach that next level. That’s also why he’s a coveted Division I recruit. Purdue, Louisville, San Diego State, Boise State are among those in pursuit. Ahmad was a guest at Oklahoma this past weekend when the Sooners played Tulane. The Sooners have not offered.
The injury may have impacted Ahmad’s recruitment to an extent. But whatever film he has sent off from these first three weeks against very solid competition may change impressions.
“Mentally, he’s been locked in,” Willis said. “The toe-tap catch against Aledo was unbelievable. When you see him turn it up like he has, you’re going to get his best. Against quality competition, you have to have the ability to finish. He’s been a natural leader for us.”