Every so often, one of Davian McEwan's teammates can't resist tapping on his shins.
The dull sound intrigues them and makes the Dacula senior laugh.
"They'll come over and knock on (my leg), they like the sound of it," McEwan said. "It kind of sounds like you're knocking on wood."
That's been the case since his football teammates found out that McEwan, a key wide receiver, starting placekicker and reserve defensive back, has no bones in his lower legs. His tibias were replaced long ago by titanium rods that hold his body up like his leg bones never could.
The issues started in infancy for McEwan, whose malfunctioning legs kept him from walking unassisted until he was 6 years old. Crutches and braces moved him along small distances until a life-changing surgery when he was 6 removed the leg bones and replaced them with the rods.
Another surgery followed almost two years later to insert permanent rods in his legs. Suddenly a kid who longed to play soccer and wondered why he couldn't play outside with his friends, could walk.
"I definitely remember (walking for the first time)," said McEwan, who was born in Canada but lived in Jamaica until he was 9. "I can't really forget that. You can't walk and then you do. It felt different. It's something I never thought would happen. I thought it was amazing to get to do what other people are doing."
Walking was one thing. Playing sports was another.
Yet McEwan somehow talked his parents into letting him play soccer with his friends in Jamaica. When he moved to the U.S., he wanted to play football with his friends. They relented to him on that decision, too.
"Football was another level of physicality (from soccer), but they let me play," McEwan said. "I took a chance and ever since I kept playing. I took some hits on my knees where I was scared a few times, but I've never gotten hurt."
Not only does McEwan play football, he plays at a pretty high level. He scored two big touchdowns in last week's win over Parkview -- one a long pass and the other a blocked punt return -- and will be an important player as the Falcons begin the state playoffs Friday vs. Norcross.
He plans to play college soccer, but he's got a little more football left to play.
"You would never know about (his legs) unless he tells you," Dacula head coach Jared Zito said. "He never tries to use it to his advantage, it is just a circumstance he has learned to adapt and overcome. ... Davian has done a great job for us this year on the field. He is an explosive player who can really run and is very athletic. I am more impressed with the person he has become this year. ... He has progressed each week as a person and player and I could not be more proud of him for that."
Will Hammock can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. His column appears on Thursdays. For archived columns, go to www.gwinnettdailypost.com/willhammock.