Eisenhower only listed five sophomores on its varsity roster last year, so it's quite a feat for a 10th grader to get the starting nod at the Houston-area school.
Regardless, that's exactly what happened in the case of Tristan Gilford, who thrived in the secondary for the Eagles during his sophomore campaign.
"It was a big deal for me to start last season," said Gilford. "Some people were worried about my ability to get the job done, but they were able to see my skills from the first play on.
"I'm a hitter. I pattern my game after a player like Brian Dawkins. I have good speed and I enjoy stopping the run. I run in the 4.4 to 4.5 range."
Gilford couldn't pinpoint the exact number of tackles he recorded in 2010, but he did remember picking off a pass in Eisenhower's 42-14 romp over Houston MacArthur.
While the Eagles had a winning season (6-5) last year, the defense did surrender quite a few points and that's something Gilford hopes to correct.
"We need to get stronger and faster on D," he said. "We're working on it. We should have nice speed throughout our defense."
Eisenhower dropped a 44-39 shootout to Fort Bend Hightower and four-star Texas A&M commit Bralon Addison to open the 2010 season. Is that a key game on the schedule this fall?
"Our loss to Hightower was very motivating," said Gilford. "Were looking forward to facing them again. Other big games include (Beaumont) West Brook (with Texas commit Caleb Bluiett), (Alief) Taylor and (Alief) Hastings."
Gilford says hopes to snare his first FBS scholarship offer this year. He does "very well" in the classroom, maintaining a solid B average.