Born: January 13, 1988

On Kansas City’s south side, just east of old Highway 71, the football stadium at Grandview High School once featured a star attraction, blue-chip recruit Josh Freeman.

As a freshman, he won a starting role at linebacker and later spent two seasons at quarterback, a role which generated interest from Power 5 schools such as Notre Dame and scholarship offers from Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Wisconsin, Colorado, Iowa and Kansas.

Fortunately, Freeman kept it all in perspective, allowing him to succeed not only at Grandview but later in college and the National Football League. Which makes him deserving of induction into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, with the Class of 2020.

At Grandview High School, he passed for more than 7,000 yards – a school record – and earned Class 4 All-State selection as a quarterback in 2004 and 2005 before going on to Kansas State University.

With future NFL star Jordy Nelson as his favorite target there, Freeman threw for 8,078 yards in three seasons, which still stands as the best in K-State history. Overall, he threw 44 touchdown passes and ran for 343 yards and 20 more TDs.

From there, Freeman was a first-round draft pick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2009 and spent seven seasons in the National Football League. He was with the Bucs until 2013, and later played for the Minnesota Vikings, Miami Dolphins, New York Giants and Indianapolis Colts. He then retired from football in 2018.

“I remember an eighth-grade football game, Josh playing running back, where he was a little banged up and the mental toughness he exhibited said that this guy could be something special,” said his dad, former coach Ron Freeman.

By the time he graduated high school, it was easy to see why Freeman had attracted the attention of so many college football coaches. He was the prototype for a pro-style quarterback – 6 feet, 6 inches tall and eventually bulking up to 250 pounds – and had an arm.

At Grandview, Freeman emerged as a four-star prospect by both and, ranking as the No. 4 pro-style prospect in the country. He also was a top 100 Dream Team selection by Prep-Star and was one six of quarterbacks selected to play in the prestigious U.S. Army High School All-America game.

After his senior season in 2005, he received the Tony Simone Award as the top player in the Kansas City metro area. And that came after leading the Bulldogs to a third consecutive playoff berth, with the 2005 team reaching the sectionals two years after Freeman helped them reach the state quarterfinals.

Along the way, Freeman set 10 school records at Grandview, including career passing yards (7,175), passing touchdowns (78), attempts (809), completions (385), yards passing in a game (403) and TDs in a game (6).

“He was always encouraging teammates and challenging guys to step up and be better, and they responded well,” Coach Freeman said.

Off the field, he was a leader in the hallways. His dad will never forget visiting a new barber, who got to talking about some student at Grandview helping a special needs student who had gotten lost. Freeman apparently saw to it that the girl found her classroom.

“(The barber) didn’t know who I was,” Coach Freeman said. “And he said he didn’t know the kid’s name but that he was the quarterback on the football team. As a dad, that just makes you feel proud.”

At Kansas State, Freeman enjoyed a ton of memorable games, including a 45-42 upset of No. 4-ranked Texas.

As a freshman, he appeared in 11 of 13 games and was the lone true freshman QB in the country to lead a team to a bowl game. He finished with 1,780 passing yards, a school freshman record. He also was the first Wildcat since 2001 to earn Big 12 Conference Player of the Week honors in consecutive weeks.

Freeman was Honorable Mention All-Big 12 as a junior, when he started all 12 games, set five school passing records, including single-season passing yards (3,353 yards).

A year later, he was a first-round draft pick. Freeman led Tampa Bay to a 10-6 record in 2010, his first full season as a starter as he threw 25 touchdowns and had only six interceptions. A year later, he set club records for passing yards (4,065) and touchdowns (27) and later left as the Bucs’ leader in career TDs (80), completions (1,144) and was second in passing yards (13,534).

What a career it was.