To go from a homeless boy that was a son of a drug addicted mother of 13, to a first-round pick in the NFL draft would provide enough material for a best-selling novel. That happened for Mississippi left tackle Michael Oher, whose difficult upbringing was chronicled in the New York Times bestseller 'The Blind Side.'
"I grew up poor, and was homeless a lot growing up," said Oher who for a long time lived on the streets of Memphis. "I just worked hard and came through a lot of adversity. I just kept working."
At age 13 Oher was also taken in by a family that got him proper schooling and put him on the right track for a college education.
"They helped me get to college and pushed me," said Oher of the Tuohy family. "That's why I think I'm here today at this level."
What Oher is leaving out is his rare size and athleticism, which had college scouts drooling not long after he set foot on the football field in high school. Scouts are still enamored with his abilities as an offensive tackle, only now they work for NFL teams, with one likely to make Oher a very rich man as a first-round draft choice.
He started his career at Ole Miss as a right guard, and then played left tackle his last three seasons. But Oher's game was plagued by inconsistencies, whether it was not picking up stunts quickly enough or relying too much on his rare athletic talent instead of his techniques. Much of that changed for the better however, in his senior year.
"I think my junior year, I was too much of an athletic lineman a lot of the time," said Oher. "My senior year, I was channeling my abilities and doing the work, and I showed everyone how physical I was and that I could be a nasty player, and finish plays and took my game to a whole new level. I worked a lot more on my technique, staying low, firing off the ball and just finishing plays."
Still there are scouts that are concerned about his football instincts and ability to grasp an NFL playbook after having virtually no formal schooling until he was 13-years old.
To Oher's credit he made the dean's list as a sophomore and made the honor roll more than once in his time at Ole Miss. Still scouts wonder if the inconsistencies in his game will resurface at the NFL level.
"He's very competitive," said ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper. "He's had some outstanding games, but there were some lapses. There was some inconsistency there and when you're inconsistent in college against guys that you should be able to manhandle and neutralize every play that's a concern. In the NFL you can't be inconsistent as a left tackle.
"That's why instead of being a top five or top 10 pick he may still be there at 21 or 28 for Philadelphia or for a team that needs a tackle in that area. He has a lot of skill but has been inconsistent. If he wasn't he'd be a top 10 pick."
Oher is a prideful player and already has a workmanlike approach to the game. But Kiper is right about the concern on the part of scouts that a man with his physical ability doesn't dominate and play with enough of a mean streak enough of the time. An NFL team will need a solid and patient offensive line coach to tap into Oher's full potential.
Still with his skill set and high ceiling, and knowing he's played just three seasons at left tackle, Oher is going to be too enticing for a team to pass up. He will come off the board in round one.
That's why his story is also being made into a Hollywood movie. His life is a script made for the silver screen.
Oher, however, is focused on the career that lies ahead of him. He realizes that adjusting to the NFL will be a challenge, even for a player of his rare talent. But knowing what he's been through in his young life, and the way in which he's emerged from it has him convinced that the NFL is something he'll be able to overcome.
"I've been through a lot of stuff in my life," said Oher. "I think I can handle anything."