BESSEMER, Ala. (WIAT) — It’s a full circle moment for Bessemer native DeMeco Ryans. The new Houston Texans head coach is making his hometown of Bessemer proud.

Houston is where Ryans began his NFL career as a player following a successful college career at Alabama.

Bessemer City High School, formerly known as Jess Lanier High School, is where a young Ryans first set his sights on big dreams.

His former coaches and teammates tell CBS42 they are proud of his accomplishments and always knew he was destined for greatness.

His former middle and high school coach, Billy Woodham, said Ryans morals, leadership, and work ethic were unmatched from a young age. Woodham said from the get-go he knew Ryans would make a difference in people’s lives.

“When he smiles, he lights up the room,” said Woodham. “When he talks, he leads, and he’s one of those ones back to that old saying, when he walks in a room, he just kind of he takes charge.”

Woodham said he was a great ‘on the field coach’ for them, directing and leading even in middle school.

Another former middle school coach, Ronnie Rasp, said that leadership carried on into his time as a player at Alabama and in the NFL.

“When DeMeco started talking, everybody shut up because they knew he knew,” said Rasp, “He was the one lining them up, putting them in the right spot and never failed him.”

Former high school coach Barry Wilson said Ryans’ parents instilled a great work ethic in him.

“If something got easy for him, he’d make it harder. He’d go next level with the learning process.,” said Wilson.

“Always wanting to learn no matter what it was,” Rasp continued. “He’s probably still that way now.”

Former teammate, Antonio Nelson, who is also the current head football coach at BCHS, said Ryans’ personal skills are phenomenal.

“He’s a wonderful guy,” said Nelson. “And he just going to get the best out of you. He’s fiery on the field, he’s going to get the best of out of you, but he’s gonna love on you too as well.”

Superintendent Dr. Autumn Jeter says Ryans has been so generous financially to the BCHS football program and inspires their athletes.

“This is a prime example of that,” said Dr. Jeter. “That they can be anything, believe it and work toward it. They can definitely achieve it.”

Dr. Jeter says this appointment of Ryans as head coach is truly eye-opening for their students and community and she can’t wait to invite him back to share his inspiring story of achieving success in person.