David Lockwood saw something special in his youngest son Ty at an early age.
However, he saw it on a basketball court.
Ty played high-level AAU basketball growing up in the Chicagoland area as his main focus and only played football on the side for a youth program. It wasn't until the family moved to Tennessee that football became a priority in Ty's life.
The Lockwoods moved to Tennessee in 2020 and Ty enrolled at Independence. That summer and fall were eye-opening experiences for David when it came to seeing the potential for Ty's future.
Intense one-on-one basketball games in the driveway with his dad helped shape Ty into a fierce competitor. David never let Ty win those games growing up. But once Ty finally beat his dad, he followed that up with a breakout sophomore football season. That's when it became clear to David where his future was in sports.
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"He's always had great hands and always been pretty big, but I didn't know that football was ever going to really be his thing," David said. "Once we got here, things just sort of took off. During and at the end of his sophomore year, that's when it hit me that this is probably his thing and will be his future in athletics."
Lockwood, a 6-foot-5, 225-pound senior and four-star Alabama tight end commitment, is No. 3 in the 2022 Dandy Dozen, a collection of the top college football prospects from the Nashville area as chosen by The Tennessean.
Ranked as the No. 9 tight end in the country and No. 2 prospect in the state, according to 247Sports Composite, Lockwood caught 43 passes for 606 yards and three touchdowns as a sophomore. He followed that up catching 42 passes for 462 yards and a pair of touchdowns last season.
"He's definitely a weapon that you don't get to coach every year for sure unless you're at IMG Academy," Independence coach Scott Stidham said. "He's definitely someone we need to get the ball to and it's nice to have him on our side because he has a lot of ability and works really hard to become a great football player.
"I like being around Ty not only because of that, but because of the person he is."
From Texas A&M to Ohio State to Alabama
Lockwood committed to Ohio State on August 19, 2021, becoming the first commitment in the Buckeyes 2023 class.
After sticking with the Buckeyes for nearly a year, Lockwood flipped his decision on Tuesday to Alabama, following a weekend trip to Tuscaloosa that ended with an offer from Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban.
However, before Alabama and Ohio State, there was Texas A&M.
Lockwood has an offer from Texas A&M, but never committed to the Aggies. Instead, he grew up an Aggies fan thanks to his dad.
David had a close friend who went Texas A&M back in the '90s so he would go down College Station and go to Aggies games with him.
They picked out the best game on the schedule every year and attended that game, a tradition they had together for 15 years. David brought his family to several games and let his sons experience games where about 100,000 people were in attendance.
"I was hooked on Texas A&M football and that's just something Ty grew up on," David said. "We were Texas A&M fans because a college football game at Kyle Field with over 100,000 screaming fans in attendance was just madness. It was something we adopted."
David will likely get the chance to see his son play at Kyle Field as soon as his freshman year, but it'll be in a different jersey than the one he grew up rooting for.
"It's really awesome to think about getting to play against Texas A&M one day and all of the other great SEC programs," Ty said. "Living in Tennessee, you're in SEC country with Tennessee and Vanderbilt here of course. It's special because everyone you know down here is likely going to an SEC school or they at least root for and SEC team so they'll still likely get to watch me play and that means a lot to me.
"I've got classmates who can see me at Alabama and say, 'Hey, I went to high school with Ty' or something like that. It's neat because we know so many people here and people at Texas A&M still so it'll be awesome to play them."
Reach Joe Spears at email@example.com or 731-343-4923. Follow him on Instagram and Twitter @joe_spears7.
This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: Alabama football recruiting: Ty Lockwood grew up Texas A&M fan