Austin, TXLake Travis
In a state that has become a new cradle of college quarterbacks, the Lone Star State might be looking at its finest passing prospect in the last decade. While Gilbert doesn’t have the big arm that a guy like Ryan Mallett had coming out of Texas High, he rates off-the-charts in a number of other categories. The 6-4, 208-pound Gilbert is one of the most accurate passers among the high school ranks that I’ve ever seen, especially when rolling to his left or right. Although he’s not a guy that’s going to make his living at the college level making plays with his feet, Gilbert is an above-average athlete that understands his limitations as a runner, but he also knows when to pick his spots if opportunities open up. More than anything else, Gilbert’s top assets are his intangibles. As a leader, Gilbert has already proven how strong his presence on the field can be after leading Lake Travis to new heights with back-to-back state championships. In addition to the titles, Gilbert put up ridiculous numbers throughout his career. The only concern with Gilbert, who committed to Texas shortly after signing day in February, was a torn labrum that he played with for almost the entire 2007 season. But, it was clear by the second or third week of the season that Gilbert was fine and by the end of the season, it was hard to remember why anyone had any concerns in the first place. In all of the years that I’ve been in this business, Gilbert is right up there with Vince Young and Drew Brees as the best in-state quarterback I’ve seen.
Previous ranking: 1
Houston, TXCypress Ridge
What Gilbert is to passing quarterbacks, Shepard is to dual-threat quarterbacks. An amazing runner in the open field that has the kind of quickness, acceleration and raw explosiveness to take over a game, Shepard looks like current West Virginia star Pat White, but he possesses a higher ceiling as a thrower. When you look at Shepard’s skill set as a college quarterback, arm strength and mechanics won’t be an issue as much as a lack of reps in the passing game will. It might take him a few seasons to develop, but if/when the light switch comes on in that area, he could emerge as one of the most dangerous weapons in college football. Of course, there’s always a chance that Shepard could end up playing wide receiver, but the bottom line is that barring injuries, Shepard should emerge as a superstar at the next level because of his ability to make plays when the ball is in his hands. Finally, when you throw in his immense leadership qualities, the only thing to dislike is his lack of experience in the passing game. He has a chance to be the spectacular talent in this class.
Previous ranking: 3
There was a time when the national experts were sleeping on Okafor, but after an amazing spring and summer, Okafor followed it up with a dominant senior season and he ended up locking down a fifth star as one of the nation’s truly elite prospects. As a junior in 2007, Okafor was a very good player for much of the season, but once the playoffs rolled around, he was arguably the state’s most dominant defender and he helped lead the Panthers to the state championship game. At 6-5, 235 pounds, Okafor not only has the size and strength to excel at the point of attack in the running game, but his burst off the edge makes him a potential star pass-rusher at the next level. Okafor does a great job of using his hands to get off of blocks and his athleticism makes him a threat to make plays up and down the line of scrimmage. If you’re talking NFL upside, Okafor might have as much as any player in the state.
Previous ranking: 5
Let’s just cut right to the chase – Loston is the state’s top safety prospect, the most intimidating defender in the state and perhaps the best player at his position that I have seen in the last decade inside Texas borders. The 6-2, 203-poiund Loston is a sledgehammer in run support and he’s extremely comfortable playing near the line of scrimmage. Yet if you think Loston is a one-trick pony, you’d be wrong because he’s also a guy that uses his outstanding range and ball skills to make plays in coverage at the drop of a dime. That being said, Loston’s biggest asset is the fear he places in the hearts of his opponents on the field. Every receiver that plays against Eisenhower knows exactly where Loston is on the field at all times because there’s a very clear understanding that he might knock you unconscious if you’re not careful. While Loston can cover a lot of ground in the secondary, there are some questions about his cover skills and there’s some speculation that he might eventually be a player that spins down to linebacker.
Previous ranking: 4
There’s a lot to love about the skill set that Walters brings to the table as an offensive line prospect. Although he’s a dominating center at the high school level, most schools envision the 6-6, 290-pound Walters on the perimeter because of his outstanding combination of size and great feet. At this point of his career, Walters is a dominating presence in the power running game and he excels at playing in space, and he’s asked to pull from the center position quite a bit. As a physical presence, there’s not a more impressive looking lineman in the state. In fact, if you were putting together a recruiting dictionary, you could put Walters’ photo next to the definition of “idea line prospect”. The biggest knock on Walters is that he’s a little hard to project as a tackle because he’s played so very little of it at this point in his career. The projection to tackle is a bit of a leap of faith, although he showed up very well at the Under Armor All-American workouts when given a chance to play the position. If he stays healthy, Walters projects as an elite college performer.
Previous ranking: 7
Beaumont, TXWest Brook
I was a little slow to coming around on Michael because his early film wasn’t overwhelming and his numbers from his junior season were solid, but they didn’t jump out at you like some others. Yet if there’s one thing you need to understand about Michael, it’s that you can’t get a proper evaluation of this kid unless you see him in person. At 5-11, 202 pounds, Michael is the picture-perfect image of what you’d like to see from a running back physically, as he’s put together about as well as any player his age can be expected to be. In addition to his great frame, Michael is a dangerous weapon when he cracks the first line of defense and once he gets into the open field, he’s got a chance to take it the distance from anywhere on the field. In addition to that raw explosiveness, he also possesses terrific feet and the ability to explode out of one cut. Also, unlike a lot of kids with great speed and big-play ability, Michael doesn’t look to bounce everything outside. He’s a tough runner that fights for extra yards, but it’s the ability to make big plays that truly makes him a potential star at the college level.
Previous ranking: 9
Dallas, TXSouth Oak Cliff
If Brent wasn’t giving up several inches in height, he might be rated ahead of Loston because he’s an absolute head-hunter that has the ability to cover man-to-man better than Loston. Still, if it weren’t for Loston, it might be Brent that I would be calling the best safety prospect that I’ve seen in this state in the last ten years. That’s how much I think of Brent and if I had to pay money to watch one guy, I might choose Brent. It’s hard to put it into words what I like about Brent, but there’s just a brutality and viciousness to his game that makes him different than just about anyone I’ve ever seen. Whether he’s blitzing off the edge or playing deep in coverage, Brent is always looking to hit someone and if anyone gets in his way, he sends them packing with a headache. Still, if you think this kid is simply a hitter, you’re not paying attention because he can do a little bit of everything, including covering the inside slot receiver. The bottom line is that like Loston, Brent is a complete playmaker and projects as an elite-level player in college. If there’s any concerns at all about Brent, it’s that it might take him some time to make the transition to the college game. I’ve got a rule about DISD kids and it goes like this: give them three years. That’s usually how long it takes for DISD to fully make the jump to the high D1 level, whether we’re talking Sergio Kindle or Lendy Holmes. If the same holds true of Brent, he might be a bit overvalued here, but I’ve got a feeling he might be an exception to the rule.
Previous ranking: 5
There might not be a tougher athlete to project for the next level than the 6-3, 230-pound Whaley, who could play any number of positions on either side of the ball at the collegiate level. At this point, he’s going to start his college career at running back and if he doesn’t outgrow the position, he has a chance to be a unique blend of his, speed and athleticism. A relative man among boys at his current level, Whaley’s speed and power can be a terrifying combination when he gets to the second level of the defense. Although you might not expect it from a kid with his size, Whaley is also a skilled receiver that is easily comfortable as an option in the passing game. The biggest question about Whaley is where he’ll end up physically once he gets into a college weight program. With his frame, he could add quite a bit more size to his frame, which is why a lot of people project him as a potential defensive lineman at the next level.
Previous ranking: 9
San Antonio, TXWarren
Although he spent most of the recruiting year ranked as the No.2 defensive tackle prospect in the state, Howell proved with a strong senior season and an outstanding week of All-American Bowl workouts. It was during that week that he proved that while he might not be the bull at the point of attack that McFarland can be, he’s a more versatile and active player, which makes the most natural playmaker of any at the position in-state this season. At 6-3, 280 pounds, Howell uses his athleticism and quick first step to create havoc up and down the line of scrimmage. Howell does a great job of playing with good pad level and if he’s allowed to get his hands on the pads of opposing linemen, he can be unblocklable with one offensive lineman. Because he’s not the rock at the point of attack, he might need a year or two in the weight room before he’ll be an impact performer, but his playmaking abilities make him a potential dynamic inside pass rusher at the next level.
Previous ranking: 16
At 6-4, 220 pounds, Green might have the best combination of size and athleticism of any offensive player in the state of Texas. The biggest issue with Green is that he’s committed to playing quarterback at the next level, when he probably he could make a bigger immediate impact and potentially have more overall upside at wide receiver. When he attended the Texas summer camp following his sophomore season, he starred as a receiver and many that were on hand felt like he was the top 2009 prospect on the field. As a quarterback prospect, he really took his game to another level as a senior and gave reason to believe that he might just end up staying behind center at the next level. Regardless, he’s an absolute playmaker and with combination of size and athleticism, the sky’s the limit at a couple of positions.
Previous ranking: 10
League City, TXClear Creek
There’s little question that the most highly-coveted cornerback in the state is the 6-0, 193-pound Davis, who not only possesses outstanding one-on-one cover skills, but he also thrives in the running game. As a cornerback, Davis is comfortable in press coverage because of his strength and at the University of Texas one-day camp in June, he showed outstanding hips and the ability to explode out of his breaks. Davis’ versatility also makes him a candidate to end up at safety and with his ball skills and ability to make an impact in the running game, it won’t be a surprise if he ends up there in the long-term. Regardless, there’s very little downside to Davis, as he is a smart, hard-working player. If you had to nitpick, there might be some concern that his physical development is already tapped out to a certain degree, but that’s not a huge issue. He’s got a chance to be a Sunday player.
Previous ranking: 13
There’s probably not been a more talked about player in the Lone Star State in 2008-09 than McFarland, who was once rated as the state’s No.1 prospect, but slipped down the final rankings after an uneventful senior season and week of workouts at the US Army All-American game. That’s not to say that McFarland isn’t a potential Sunday player, but he’s not quite at the superstar level just yet. At his best the 6-3, 280-pound McFarland is the prototype defensive tackle prospect that thrives in run defense, while also showing the physical tools needed to excel as a pass rusher. McFarland has a quick first step and he plays with good pad level, which can make him almost impossible to block without a double team. Yet as athletic as McFarland is, his ability to anchor a line against the run is what makes him potentially a special player. When you consider his level of competition and how he fared against since his sophomore year, it would seem to indicate that there’s not a lot of downside. He projects as a very good player, but after a lackluster senior season there are questions about whether he has the stuff to be a special player.
Previous ranking: 6
There might not be a better, more natural guard prospect in the state than this 6-6, 300-pound product from the old Little Southwest Conference. Porter hasn’t even begun to fill out the way he likely will in college, but he’s already a dominant player at the high school level and he’ll be a candidate to receive early playing time. Porter has been well-schooled in pass-protection and shows a quick slide step and the ability to handle speed rushers off the edge. Despite his size, Porter does a great job of getting good pad level and he knows how to use leverage to his advantage. At times Porter can be a brutal power run blocker. If there’s a knock on Porter, it’s that he hasn’t faced the kind of speed thus far in high school that he’ll see at the high D1-level and he might have to move inside. In the US Army All-American Game workouts, Porter struggled a little against the better outside rushers, which further indicated that his future home isn’t at tackle. That being said, he’s probably the most polished lineman in the Lone Star State heading into college.
Previous ranking: 12
Sulphur Springs, TXSulphur Springs
Rollison is listed as a dual-threat prospect, but I’m of the opinion that he’s a pass-first, pass-second and pass third type of quarterback. When Rollison is really in a groove, he can be a master at the short and intermediate passing game, as his ability to throw the ball with touch and accuracy make him a tremendous high school player. He’s as strong throwing down the field, but it’s certainly not an arm strength issue because he can make all of the throws. As an athlete, Rollison has the physical tools to be a threat with his feet and he really started tapping into his athletic ability by punishing defenses that sold out to defend the passing game. My biggest question about Rollison after watching him play as a junior was his decision-making, but after a sensational senior season that watched him lead his team a state championship, a lot of those concerns were eased quite a bit. The only question mark with Rollison is on the academic side. As a talent he probably belongs in the top ten of the state, but when you consider that he might have to take a JUCO route, his overall grade takes a hit.
Previous ranking: 15
Cedar Hill, TXCedar Hill
Ashcraft first popped up on the scene as a star sophomore on Cedar Hill’s 2006 state championship team and he’s since emerged into one of the top offensive line prospects in the nation. Although he has hopes to play tackle in college, we view Ashcraft as one of the top two pure interior lineman in the state of Texas. At 6-5, 280 pounds, Ashcraft is already a brutal mauler in the running game, but his frame still has plenty of room for growth and development. As a guard for Cedar Hill, Ashcraft is asked to do a lot of pulling and trapping, which suits his skill set just fine, as he excels much better in space than most kids with his kind of size. Although he has good knee-bend and a quick slide step that will allow him to hold up well in pass rush, there are questions about whether he has the feet to play on the perimeter, Regardless, Ashcraft’s value is enhanced by the fact that he’s already a very good player on the field, but his ceiling suggests that he could just now be scratching the surface of his overall upside.
Previous ranking: 11
Round Rock, TXStony Point
He was just a dominating presence off the edge this season and he got better and better with each passing week. He's not the most explosive edge guy you'll find off the edge, but he has a quick first step and he has the ability to use his athleticism to go around guys and the strength to go through them. He's been at his best in the playoffs, reminding me of the rise that Alex Okafor made as a junior in 2007. This kid has a great body/frame that should allow him to add more weight and still maintain his athleticism. Mims can play on either side of the line, although he's better coming off the left side than the right at this point. Has the ability to make plays down the line of scrimmage. For all of his size and strength, he's not an elite-level athlete, although he's playing at an elite level on the field. He does not move extremely well laterally, but he’s not going to be asked to play in space. Overall, I felt like Mims was as good of a defensive player on the field as I saw in person this year. He flat out dominated games and was unblockable in the playoffs when his team made a run to the state semi’s.
Previous ranking: 16
In what is a bit of a down year at the wide receiver position inside the state of Texas, Timmons is the top guy available. At 6-2, 190 pounds, Timmons has the size and athleticism, if not the top-end speed, to be an elite-level performer. Although he’s already a very physical player, in a few years you could be looking at a kid that’s in the 220-pound range, and he likely won’t lose much of his speed and athleticism in the process. Timmons might not be the best runner after the catch, but his hands are as good as any in the state and he does a great job of using his body to make tough catches. His best asset after the catch is his strength, as he’s much more likely to break a tackle than he is of shaking someone out of their shoes. Although he doesn’t have elite top-end speed, he has a great initial burst that allows him to create separation. He was one of the best receivers all week at the US Army Bowl workouts.
Previous ranking: 20
New Braunfels, TXNew Braunfels
If Abilene’s Chris Williams isn’t the most physical inside linebacker prospect in the state, then it most likely has to be this England native. At 6-1, 210-pounds, Wort has really filled out over the last year and emerged as a complete middle linebacker prospect. At this point he’s an above-average athlete that has the ability to make plays from sideline to sideline, but the thing that separates him from some other guys at his position is his motor (which is always running) and his appetite for the game. This kid just loves football and his commitment to becoming the best player he can be makes him a low risk prospect in my mind. As a junior I wasn’t overly impressed with his skill set, but he’s made significant progress since I saw him last season, although an ankle injury has limited him some this season. At the Under Armor All-American game, one scout referred to him as a “football psycho” and it was meant as a total compliment.
Previous ranking: 23
Wichita Falls, TXRider
When we’re talking about Ward, we’re talking about one of the state most underrated prospects on the national level. At a shade under 6-0, Ward doesn’t size and speed aren’t off-the-charts special by any means, but the one thing that separates Ward from quite a few of his peers his playmaking ability. Some guys have it and some guys don’t – this kid has it. As a receiver, Ward possesses great hands and a great burst, which allows him to create separation from defenders and create big plays after the catch. This is also a young man that excels in the screen game and is unafraid to cross the middle of the field. In addition to his strength as an offensive performer, Ward ranks as one of the top safety prospects in Texas. Bottom – line the kid makes a lot of plays and has the potential to be a sensational college player. His only real drawback is his lack of gamebreaking speed.
Previous ranking: 17
Galena Park, TXNorth Shore
Matthews is probably one of the most difficult prospects to evaluate this year in the state of Texas. On one hand, you have a 6-2, 220-pound kid that runs the sprints on the track team, emerged as a very strong blocker and he has the ability to be a terrific downfield weapon. On the other hand, you have a guy that is a bit of a tweener at the tight end position and is probably going to be a fullback-H-back combo in college. Regardless of where you project him, Matthews has the kind of size/speed combos that can translate to being a potential match-up nightmare at the next level for opposing defenses. Although he’s a bit of a project, his skill set is unique from almost all of his peers and that’s why he rates as a state top 25 prospect. His biggest challenge moving forward will be developing his skills as a receiver because the tools are there for him to emerge as a weapon, but he has some work to do.
Previous ranking: 14
Pratt is that he has the size, frame and athletic skill to be a standout on either side of the football. In fact, there are a number of people who feel like he’d rank as the top linebacker prospect in the state if he wanted to focus on that side of the ball. That being said, he’s being recruited as a running back by most schools and there’s reason to believe that he can be a standout there at the next level. At 6-2, 220 pounds, Pratt projects as a tough inside runner that can not only produce big plays once he gets to the second level, but he’s also displayed nice skills as a receiver that should allow him to be a three-down player in college. If there’s anything missing from his package as an offensive player, it’s the fact that he doesn’t have that elite-level quickness, burst or acceleration that makes him a threat to score from anywhere on the field.
Previous ranking: 19
Wichita Falls, TXRider
The biggest problem facing Beaver this season is that he’s coming out in a year when the quarterback talent inside the state borders is so high that its caused him to fly under the radar a little, but make no mistake – this kid is a baller and perhaps most important, a winner. The silky smooth 6-3, 180-pound Beaver is a dangerous runner, but he’s also a skilled passer that has no fear and is willing to stand in the pocket and take a hit if that’s what duty calls for. Of course, Beaver is deadly on the run and his ability to throw well on the move makes him perhaps the best true dual-threat quarterback prospect in Texas. All of that being said, his top asset might be his set of intangibles - he’s a leader of the highest order and a player that others rally around. If not for an injury that caused him to miss most of his senior season, Beaver might have rated a little higher in the final rankings, but he just didn’t get a chance to display his skill on the same kind of big state that the other quarterbacks ranked ahead of him this year were able to.
Previous ranking: 21
There’s no question that Horn is one of the most underrated prospects in the state this year. Take a look at this kid’s film and you’ll see a lot of positives that come along with his 6-5, 295-pound frame. The first thing you’ll notice is that he’s extremely strong at the point of attack and it won’t be long before he’s a guy with a 400-pound bench press and 600-pound squat under his belt in the weight room. While his power game is his strong suit, he’s got pretty good feet and could probably play right tackle or inside at the next level. Throw in the fact that he brings a nasty attitude with him on the field and there’s not a lot to dislike.
Previous ranking: 22
This kid reminds me of former Baylor all-purpose threat Kalief Muhammad. At 5-8, 190 pounds, there’s no question that he’s not going to be everyone’s cup of team, but this kid is flat out lightening in a bottle. He’s an extremely explosive burst out of his first cut and he has the ability to get from 0-60 MPH in the blink of an eye. More than anything, this kid is just impossible for defenders to get their hands on and every time someone thinks they’ve got a clean shot on him, he undresses them in space. He projects as an immediate impact player as a return guy on special teams and if he is used properly, he has a chance to be an X-factor type of player on offense.
Previous ranking: 23
Dugat is just a good football player that always seems to make a lot of plays. At 6-0, 200 pounds, Dugat is built a little like current Texas wide receiver Quan Cosby. Also, like Cosby he lacks a great top-end speed and he has some athletic limitations. That doesn’t mean that he’s not a good athlete, it’s just that he doesn’t possess an elite-level tool set. Still, the kid makes a LOT of plays and has the ability to make them in a variety of ways. There’s an inner drive that he possesses that drives him to beat the guy on the other side of the ball competing against him and it’s helped elevate him from a good prospect into one of the state’s best in 2009. As a senior at Dayton, there probably wasn’t a receiver in the state that made as many big-game plays and meant as much to his team, as Dugat put the team on his back at times and helped lead them to the state title game. At the end of the day, we’re just talking about a good football player that can be a solid offensive and special teams weapon at the next level.
Previous ranking: 25
All you have to do is take one look at Brockers’ physical make-up to know that the kid is a big-time prospect. At 6-6, 255-pounds, Brockers has the kind of frame that might be able to carry 300 pounds without him losing much of the athleticism and skill that make him a potential star performer. In fact, hen you look at his physical development, it’s not hard to imagine him spinning down inside to defensive tackle or even emerging as a top offensive tackle candidate when it’s all said and done. Although he has a quick first step and shows skill as a pass rusher, Brockers can play a bit stiff and his pad level will need to improve because he’s not an elite-level edge rusher. Brockers’ top asset for me is that he plays a physical brand of football and plays with attitude. He’s going to need to be coached up some and the level of increased competition will take some time for him to adjust to, but by the time he makes those adjustments he might be 6-6, 300 pounds and a potential monster as an interior player. If he hadn’t been such a lock to LSU, his offer list would feature every top school in the country.
Previous ranking: 28
He’s not the biggest guy in the world, but Williams is simply a football-loving-sonofagun that personally reminds me a lot of current Texas redshirt freshman Earl Thomas. At 5-10, 160 pounds, Williams will need to get stronger before he’s ready for combat on the college playing fields, but this is a kid that has tremendous athletic ability and ball skills, while also possessing a nose for the football and a thirst for contact. There are other sin the state that have better physical tools, but few can excel in man-coverage as well as Williams and they also doesn’t possess his natural football instincts. The kid was born to play football.
Previous ranking: 40
When college coachers hit the road each spring, they are looking for cornerbacks that look just like Barnett. At 6-2, 180 pounds, Barnett has the combination of size, athleticism and cover skills that college coaches dream about. Despite his height, Barnett seems natural in man-to-man coverage and he’s able to turn his hips and run with smaller players with relative ease. At times Barnett does a great job of locating the football and turning into an offensive player on the defensive side of the ball, but at times he doesn’t finish plays the way you’d like to see from someone with so much physical ability. Needs to get stronger before he’ll be a huge factor in defending the run, but he’s shown a willingness to mix it up and throw his body into the fray. Physically, he reminds me of exactly what former Texas cornerback Aaron Ross looked like at the same stage of his career. A torn ACL during his senior season causes Barnett to drop lower than he might have otherwise ended up because there were some that felt like he was on his way towards possible National Top 100 status before the injury.
Previous ranking: 27
There’s no question that Hurst possesses the kind of natural skills as a cornerback to be a very good player at the next level. At 5-11, 170 pounds, this is a kid that excels in man-to-man coverage and he possesses a above-average ball skills. As he continues to develop, he’ll have to get stronger and get a little more physical because that’s an area of his game that lacks a little right now. When watching film of Hurst, I’ve never been blown away by his play or his athleticism, which is why he ranks in the bottom half of the top 100. He’s a good player that has the ability turn his hips and run as a corner, but there’s no “wow” factor about his game.
Previous ranking: 86
If you’re talking about guys that are in competition for the honor of being the best pound-for-pound football player in the state of Texas, this is a kid that has to be in the discussion. The 5-11, 190-pound Burkhead is a do-it-all performer at the high school level and that’s how you envision him at the next level as well. He’s best suited to play in a spread offense as an all-purpose back that carry and receive the ball out of the backfield. In some ways he reminds me of current Texas freshman Brock Fitzhenry, but he’s not quite that explosive. The thing you can’t shake when talking about Burkhead is the fact that he was perhaps the most dominating player in the Metroplex for two straight seasons. Special physical tools or not, there’s a reason why he earned the nickname “Superman”.
Previous ranking: 26
Royse City, TXRoyse City
This kid is one of my guys. Yes, he’s probably a shade under 6-0, but if we’re two inches taller he’d be on everyone’s short list (no pun intended). First, I think the kid is just a great player that has the ability to take over a game with his arm and feet. Also, you don’t have to project Morrison like some of the other quarterback prospects in the state because he’s already proven to be a viable all-around playmaker with more than 8,000 passing yards and nearly 2,000 rushing yards during on his career resume. As a passer, Morrison’s arm strength is solid and after playing in a spread offense that features his arm first, he’s already comfortable with a variety of throws in the passing tree. More than anything, I think this kid has the kind of on-field intangibles that you hope the taller, more prototype prospects dream about. The kid just makes plays time and time again and he seems to always come up with one when his team needs him. Overall, this kid is flying under the radar big-time nationally. Don’t be surprised if he ends up becoming the Pac-10’s version of Todd Reesing.
Previous ranking: 30
At 6-5, 305 pounds, Wade reminds me of a big dancing bear because of his ability to thrive in space. Not only does Dickinson ask Wade to pull from his tackle spot quite a bit, he thrives in that role and he excels at finishing blocks at the second and thirds levels as well as any player in the state. He’s a much stronger player at the point of attack than he is in pass-protection at this point and it’s one of the reasons a lot of people feel like he’ll be a guard in long run. That might very well turn out to be the case, but he can play tackle for quite a few people. While he doesn’t have the knee bend that you’d like to see, he’s got underrated feet and he’s a good athlete. His best position might be at guard, but I think he’s a capable tackle and he kind of reminds me of a poor man’s Justin Blalock.
Previous ranking: 31
Austin, TXLake Travis
There’s probably not a lineman in the state of Texas that has drawn a wider variety of scouting reports than Kelley. When I first scouted Kelley as a sophomore in 2006, he was the best young offensive lineman that I saw in the entire state that year. However, an injury that he suffered that season limited his work in the weight room and I’m positive that he was slow to get back to 100% last season. With Kelley still trying to regain form last year, he didn’t always perform at an elite-level in terms of showing the kind of flexibility and quickness needed to play tackle at the next level. However, Kelley made great strides in the off-season and he put together a senior season worthy of an elite-level prospect. As a pass protector, Kelley is very well trained and has a great feel for what he wants to do, but he struggles with elite-level athletes and that showed up in the Under Armor All-American game., which is the smart money has him playing in the interior when it’s all said and done. In fact, if there’s one area where Kelley is probably underrated, it’s in the running game. Even though he plays in the pass-happy Lake Travis offense, Kelley plays with good pad level in the running game and does a great job of finishing blocks. Kelley is a hard worker, he’s a winner and he plays with moxie. In my mind he’s got a chance to be very good.
Previous ranking: 29
Garland, TXNaaman Forest
Miller isn’t the biggest guy in the world, but his big-play abilities make him one of the state’s top all-purpose backs. At 6-0, 180 pounds, Miller might not be an every-down running back, but his ability to hit the hole quickly and put pressure on the defense with his speed and quickness are tremendous. Frankly, he’s a home-run hitting guy all the way and as he learns the nuances of the position, strengths his body and develops his skills as a receiver, you can see where this kid has a chance to be hell on wheels in space at the next level. One of the things I like the most about Miller is that he has the ability to reach top speed in the blink of an eye, which makes him look much more explosive than his reported 4.5 speed would seem to indicate. As soon as the kid gets his shoulders square and finds the seam, he’s through it in the blink of an eye.
Previous ranking: 44
If you’re looking for a classic NFL-style quarterback prospect, take a look at the 6-4, 200-pound Mossakowski, who carries the best arm strength of any quarterback prospect in Texas. After watching him in person, you’ll see that this kid throws the ball pretty effortlessly, while also showing pretty good footwork for a kid at this stage of his development. Like a lot of players with big arms, Mossakowski needs to learn how to corral that big right arm of his, but that’s a problem you’re always willing to deal with. Also, don’t confuse Mossakowski’s strength as a passer to mean that he’s not a good athlete because he moves and throws pretty well on the move. He’s never going to earn his scholarship on a consistent basis with his feet, but he’s capable of making plays with his feet.
Previous ranking: 32
San Antonio, TXJames Madison
If you haven’t seen film of Green yet, you should take at him because he might be the best prospect in San Antonio this year. As a 6-0, 181-pound cornerback prospect, there’s not much to dislike. He’s extremely comfortable in man-coverage and he backpedals effortlessly and turns his hips extremely well. In addition to that, he’s a tremendous leaper and he’s shown a knack for having outstanding ball skills. As a run support guy, he’s not afraid to throw his body into the fray and he’s an outstanding open-field tackler. There’s no question in my mind that he’s a state top 50 talent and one of the top defensive back prospects in the state.
Previous ranking: 37
Call this kid Mr. Excitement because when the ball is in his hands, it’s worth stopping whatever it is you might be doing because he might give you a highlight reel moment. At 5-8, 177 pounds, Stephens is obviously a small guy, but he has great feet and he’s hell on wheels in the open field because of his ability to undress players in one-on-one situation. His ability to cut laterally at a top-end speed might be as impressive as anyone in the state. If there’s a knock on Stephens it’s that he doesn’t have home run speed and there are times when you’re waiting for him to pull away and separate from defenders and it just doesn’t happen. Still, his first 20 yards is as good as anyone’s and if his skills as a receiver develop, he’s going to be a terrific all-around threat out of the backfield at the next level.
Previous ranking: 39
Irving, TXIrving Macarthur School
When Allen can get his shoulders turned and is running downhill, he’s the best linebacker in the state of Texas. A true middle linebacker prospect, Allen plays downhill better than any linebacker in the state and when the play is between the tackles, he’s as comfortable as a pig in slop. He’ll cheat a little when taking on blockers and he’ll have to learn to fight through blocks better before he’s a collegiate standout, but he plays well in traffic and has a nose for the football. The biggest question mark surrounding Allen is his ability in pass defense. At the 2008 Nike Camp in Fort Worth, Allen didn’t appear nearly as comfortable in coverage as he obviously is in defending the run. In fact, there are some people that believe his final destination will be at defensive end. At this point in his development, he’s a classic two-down linebacker that will need to improve in coverage, or he’ll be limited on third downs and against teams that use spread offenses designed to pass-first.
Previous ranking: 33
Few had heard of the diminutive Hubert before the start of the season, but perhaps no player in the Lone Star State has created a bigger reputation for himself in such short time. Although he stands at only 5-8, Hubert's a viable option for a lot of teams because of the advent of the spread offense because of his speed (4.4), great feet and ability to make guys miss in a phone booth. Like fellow Central Texas star Lache Seastrunk, Hubert is the kind of guy that can take any play the distance if he's given a sliver of daylight. Perhaps the most surprising aspect of Hubert's game is his toughness between the tackles. Although he doesn't have the size to likely be an every-down running back in college, there's no questioning his toughness after watching the workload he experienced this year for Midway. Although I wasn't blown away the first time I watched him on film, he's starting to remind me of former Arlington Grace Prep star Justin Forsett, who I absolutely loved in high school, but didn't have the guts to rate higher when he was coming out of high school. I won't make that mistake this year with Hubert. Yes, he's small, but he's got a gear to his game that can't be coached and at his absolute worst, he should be a fantastic return man at the next level. The biggest concern with Hubert deals is on the academic side and it’s one of the reasons why he’s not been as highly recruited as he should be.
Previous ranking: 33
Although Clark is projected as a tackle at the next level, one of the things that I love about this kid is that he has the ability to thrive as a guard or tackle. At 6-5, 267 pounds, Clark has a great frame to grow into and while it will likely take a few years in the weight room before he’s ready to play at a high D-1 level, there’s no denying that he has a very high ceiling. One area that he excels in is blocking in space. When he’s asked to pull from the tackle spot, he moves pretty effortlessly in the open field and he has a feel for being able to get into defenders and actually finish the play. While he’s got good feet, he can get a little sloppy at times in pass protection. There’s no doubt that the kid needs to get stronger, but he’s a good football player and it’s hard to imagine that he’s not going to be productive in college.
Previous ranking: 46
Austin, TXS. F. Austin
Blake is an interesting player because he emerged as a potential elite-level prospect after his sophomore season, but a number of injuries limited him as a junior and he’s just now starting to scratch the surface as the kind of player that he can be at the next level. At 6-1, 194 pounds, Blake has the size that you covet, but his first step, burst and explosiveness are a little underrated because of his lack of top-end speed. The best word I can use to describe Blake is smooth because he makes everything that he does look pretty easy. As a player that’s starting to take games over during his senior season, his stock is definitely on the rise. A high character kid that lacks elite athleticism, but is still a playmaker.
Previous ranking: 35
Missouri City, TXFort Bend Marshall
If you’re looking for a running back that can live between the tackles and thrive in a smash-mouth kind of running attack, look no further than the 6-1, 205-pound Davis, who not only invites contact, but he often seems to seek it out. There’s nothing flashy about Davis’ skill set, but when he gets headed North/South quickly and once he gets a head of steam, he can just run through an entire defense. Davis probably accumulates more yards after contact than any player in the state at his position and he also does a nice job of catching the ball out of the backfield. Only an ankle injury that has sidelined him for the season is keeping him from being much higher on the list.
Previous ranking: 38
Although he was mostly an unknown commodity when he committed to Texas A&M during his senior season, there’s a lot to like about Porter upon further evaluation. At a listed 6-2, 205 pounds, Porter is a little raw, but he plays balls to the wall at all times and the guy is just a playmaker that has a nose for the football and when he gets there, he usually provides strong contact. He needs to get stronger and he’ll need to be coached up a little because he cheats a little too much at this point in his career. He won’t be able to jump around blocks and still get back into the play with such ease at the next level, so it’s likely going to take a year or two of seasoning before he’s ready to contribute a high level, you have to love the fact that this kid actually has some playmaking skills in his bag of tricks. So many guys that have the physical tools lack the natural football instincts that Porter possess. If he were a little more gifted athletically, there’s no question that he’d be a four-star level prospect. As it is, he’s a good athlete, but he needs to improve his footwork a little and get rid of some of the wasted steps that he takes. At the end of the day, if you can give this kid a good linebackers coach, you’re going to get yourself a good player.
Previous ranking: 43
Dallas, TXBishop Lynch
Is the kid undersized? No question. Is the kid a tweener? Yes, you betcha. We’re talking about a high school defensive end that is being projected as a possible linebacker. Still, here’s the one thing I can’t shake free of – the kid plays at a high speed and is so desperate to get to the football that it looks like his body is on fire. In this age of college football when there’s so many spread offenses and playing in space becomes the number one criteria for evaluating linebackers, this kid does it with ease and he does it at high speed. Plus, the kid just plays mad all the time. It’s like the other team stole something from him or something. I like that about him. He’s going to need a year or two of seasoning, but I just love the fact that the kid is a great football player, even if it is in an unusual physical package.
Previous ranking: 41
From a pure physical tools standpoint, Pachal has as much ability as any quarterback prospect in the state. He possesses a great combination of size, athleticism, running ability and on top of that, he’s got a live arm. The problem with Pachal is that he hasn’t ever been able to put his tools together in a way that have elevated him to more than a bit of a project at quarterback. During the course of his high school career, he would go from outstanding to frustrating to watch in the matter of seconds. The tools are there, but I question whether his natural football instincts are as sharp as they need be. If he can harness all of that talent, he’s got a chance to be an outstanding college player.
Previous ranking: 50
Vaccaro is yet another player in-state this year where you will receive a lot of mixed reviews on. If you simply look at his highlight tape, Vaccaro looks like a no-brainer pick for the state top 15, but when you watch a full game film of Brownwood from last season, you’ll come away with as many questions as you will answers. At his best, Vaccaro can be a game-changer because of his physical play and outstanding balls skills, but too many times last season Vaccaro disappeared for long stretches in games. Although he was a borderline four-star prospect coming into his senior season, a torn ACL in his first game caused him to miss the rest of the year and it kept us from getting a look at what a more developed player might look like after another full off-season.
Previous ranking: 46
Jones looks remarkably similar to former Kilgore defensive end Eddie Jones, but he’s not quite as dynamic off the edge as the Class of 2006 star was at similar stages of their careers. Jones is very well-coached and plays with excellent pad level, which allows him to hold up well at the point of attack despite his lean frame. Jones is an above-average athlete that has seems to still be growing into his frame and his best football should be ahead of him. Unlike Eddie Jones, there’s little question that Dominique has a physical ceiling that’s not tapped out. The fact that he made major strides as a senior, both in the weight room and with his play on the field shows that he’s a kid that’s still ascending as an athlete. With his athleticism, he could be quite a pass-rusher off the edge if he remains patient and can continue to develop physically.
Previous ranking: 65
Keller, TXFossil Ridge
Mahoney is another guy that has the physical tools to be a top-level college player. At 6-2, 210 pounds, Mahoney has the frame to carry more weight without losing any of his speed and quickness, which is the area in which his game is built around. Mahoney definitely needs to get stronger, both physically and at the point of attack, but he has legitimate sideline-to-sideline ability. If there’s a real knock on Mahoney, it deals with his natural instincts as a player. When he’s able to run downhill he can be a difference maker, but he often struggles in traffic and doesn’t always get off of blocks easily. Overall, he’s an upside guy, but he has enough ability that he could eventually emerge as the best linebacker in this class if he develops fully.
Previous ranking: 49
What I love about Ash is that he’s got some real nastiness in his demeanor on the field. If he gets a chance to put someone head-first in the ground, he’ll take it. That’s not something that can be taught, he’s just like that naturally. Two points for him. You also have to like the fact that he’s 6-5, 265 pounds and possesses a frame that will fill out considerably after a few seasons in the weight room. He’s got good feet and he has shown some ability to play well in space. Overall, we’re talking about a good football player and I think he has a chance to be a very good college player after a few years of seasoning.
Previous ranking: 61
This kid really won me over at the Under Armor workouts a month before signing day. When Najvar first arrived on the recruiting scene, he had the physical make-up of a kid, but over the course of the last year he’s really started to come into his own and now we’re talking about a 6-6, 240-pound pass-receiving prospect that made improvement in the blocking department as a senior. At the UA workouts, he showed that he has the physical tools that can make him a vertical passing threat, while also displaying very nice hands in the process. He needs to get better at the point of attack and he’s not an explosive, quick-twitch athlete, but he has everything needed to be a good college tight end. I think there are going to be a lot of in-state teams that regret not recruiting him harder.
Previous ranking: 77
You can tell that Moss is a coach’s son because he has an intimate understanding of the game and his football instincts are off the charts. At 6-2, 209 pounds, Moss is a sure tackler that has the ability to get off of blocks and make plays inside the box. The real question mark with Moss deals with his ability to plays outside of the tackle box. Although he’s a good athlete, he doesn’t have great lateral ability and could have some limitations at the next level because of it. Still, he’s an incredibly smart player that is always around the football and if he lands in the right scheme, it’s easy to see where he could eventually emerge as a top-level inside linebacker. There are some prospects that you simply have to describe as born football players and this kid is one of those guys.
There’s a lot to like about Williams and a few things not to like. First, there’s no question that when it comes to running downhill and striking a ball carrier, there might not be another player in the state that can knock the conscious into the unconscious world. From that standpoint alone, it separates him to a certain degree from a lot of his peers that might possess better physical tools, but lack his ability to change a game with his impact style of play. The bad news with Williams is that he struggles in space, doesn’t move especially well laterally and doesn’t always appear comfortable when facing up against spread offenses. In all likelihood, Williams is going to need to transform his body a little and he might have a career that’s similar to Sergio Kindle’s, although he’s not nearly that kind of athlete. As a middle linebacker he has some range limitations, but he might end up being quite being someone that can be a nice rusher off the edge. A torn ACL that was suffered during his senior season at Abilene also caused him to drop slightly in the rankings from where he might have been without the injury.
Previous ranking: 54
Houston, TXClear Lake
Barrera is a tough, physical kid that specializes in beating up his opponents at the point of attack. As a defensive player, there’s nothing flashy about his game, but he plays with great pad level and can be very tough to single-block. Most project him as an offensive lineman at the next level and it’s an easy projection to follow. At 6-5, 290 pounds, Barrera has the frame to play a couple of positions on the line, but I think he projects as an interior prospect. Although he has good feet, I’m not sure that he’s best-suited at tackle. With his physical style of play and his high motor, he could emerge into one of the state’s top linemen after a few years of development.
Previous ranking: 52
Ok, let me get this straight. We’ve got a 6-3, 234-pound strong-side defensive end that’s great at the point of attack, plays with an incredibly high motor and possesses a quick first step. So, what’s the problem? Eguae is a guy that’s seems very comfortable playing inside, but there are some questions about how good of a pass rusher he can be at the next level. Although there’s no question that he’s an above average athlete, I haven’t seen him display the kind of skills off the edge that you really covet in this age of spread football. In some ways he reminds me of current Texas defensive tackle Lamarr Houston and I can’t help but wonder if he’s not going to eventually develop into an interior player.
Previous ranking: 47
Fort Worth, TXAll Saints Episcopal
The more I watch of Prioleau, the more I like him. At a legit 6-5, 243 pounds, he actually projects as a nice pass-catching tight end at the next level. He’s not a quick-twitch athlete that possesses a lot of explosiveness, but he’s a good route runner and when he gets a head of steam going, he can be a handful for defenders to bring down in the open field. The question marks about Prioleau deal with his level of competition and whether he’s reached his ceiling as a player/prospect. When you look at his vitals on paper, he certainly looks the part, but I’ve yet to see game film of him that makes me think he’s an upper-echelon prospect. Considering the lack of quality tight ends in-state and across the country, he holds a higher value this year than he might have had a year ago.
Previous ranking: 48
At 6-5, 235 pounds, Graham has really been one of the most interesting case studies in the state. When he first arrived on the recruiting scene, he was known more for his upside and skill as a pass-receiving threat, while his blocking skills weren’t quite as affluent. Yet when I watched Graham as a senior, he was a bull as a blocker that Midway was able to use in a fullback/H-back fashion, but he struggled as a receiver at times and I was left with some questions about his natural ball skills. From a physical standpoint, Graham has really grown up and he’s got the physical side of the game down, but he really needs to work hard at improving his skill as a receiver. He’s a plus-athlete that moves around the field pretty effortlessly, but he’s just a little rough around the edges at this point.
Previous ranking: 45
Perhaps the only thing Lowe needs is a college coaching staff that can get the most out of his abilities. At 6-6 and nearly 300 pounds, Lowe has just about everything that you’re looking for in a big-time offensive tackle prospect. The size is obviously there and he’s got the kind of quick feet and natural athleticism to be a good player, but he hasn’t yet consistently performed at a high level thus far in his high school career. When he’s at his best he can be a dominant force in the running game and he has the kind of feet that allows him to perform well on the edge in pass coverage, but he’ll tease you at times with his uneven play. In fact, when I scouted him in person during his junior season, I was really disappointed in his inability to dominant lesser competition. The key with Lowe is that he does show flashes of brilliance that suggests he can be a really good player, but it sometimes doesn’t surface very often over the course of an entire game. His ceiling is much higher than a lot of guys on the list, but he’s probably not as good of a natural football player at this stage than you’d expect, which is why he’s ranked lower than his physical attributes would suggest.
Previous ranking: 58
Hurst, TXL. D. Bell
Mauro has been a personal favorite of mine for quite some time because I felt like at 6-6, 230 pounds, he’d be a very good tight end prospect because of his size/athleticism combo. I wasn’t as high on him as a defensive prospect after watching his junior season film, but if you saw this kid as a senior, you’ll know two things – Mauro grew up a lot physically in the last year and he can play the hell out of some football on defense. Although his physical maturity caused him to lose a little bit of his fluidness as an athlete, he’s much stronger at the point of attack than he was a year ago and he’s still a good enough athlete that he can finish plays behind the line of scrimmage. The only question mark about him now is whether he’s a little bit of a tweener between defensive end and defensive tackle. Personally, I think he’ll be a very good strongside defensive end in a 4-3 scheme.
Previous ranking: 81
Karam’s biggest problem as far as I can tell is that he plays in a state that produces so many high-level quarterback prospects that he’s gotten lost in the shuffle to a certain degree. At 6-1, 197 pounds, Karam doesn’t have any special physical qualities, but he has a great feel for the game and he has the ability not only to make a lot of throws, but he’s so good at managing a team at the quarterback position that it’s easy to see where he’ll eventually develop into a very solid college player. More than anything else, this kid oozes intangibles and that might be the number one quality I look for in a quarterback.
Previous ranking: 60
San Antonio, TXAlamo Heights
Put Allen into that category of quarterbacks that have a lot of talent, but just happen to be coming out in a year when an obscene amount of top quarterbacks are available. At 6-5, 210 pounds, Allen is a plus-athlete that has a nice all-around game. As far as arm strength, there are times when he’s more impressive than others, but the important thing is that he’s not going to be restricted from fully developing into a quality college starter. Overall, he’s certainly not a wow guy, but he’s a good, solid prospect.
Previous ranking: 63
Terrell really made an impression on me during his senior season when he became a key playmaker in their state championship run. Some guys are prospects and some guys are players – Terrell is a player. He has some limitations as a corner because he doesn’t always turn his hips well in coverage, but he’s a guy that makes plays. He possesses really good closing speed and he’s not afraid to throw his hat around. As an athlete, he’s pretty solid, but he’s not really off the charts good in an area. But, the kid is a damn good player.
Previous ranking: 87
Nwachukwu is a tough nut for me to crack. On one hand when you watch the kid work out in shorts, you can’t help but take a double take. Seriously, this is a 6-1, 186-pound prospect with legit 4.42 speed, a 41-inch vertical and a 300+ pound bench press. Yet when you turn on the film the guy that you would expect to see just doesn’t show up. In fact, you’d never believe by watching him play that he has the type of physical tools that he actually possesses. So, I can’t really figure out where to slot him this year. He’s a four-star talent and he plays like a two-star player at times. That probably means that the truth is probably somewhere in the middle of those two.
Previous ranking: 57
Wichita Falls, TXRider
One of the top do-it-all players in Texas this year. At 5-11, 195 pounds, there’s nothing special about Thompson’s physical attributes, but we’re talking about a kid that has great feet, balance and vision as a running back. Although he’s listed as an athlete, we like Thompson on the offensive side of the ball because of his versatility. There’s no question that he best-suited for a one-back, spread offense and in that role he has a chance to be a really good college back. As a runner he does a good job of getting downhill and there’s not much wasted motion with him in the open field. His quick burst makes it tough for defenders to get a proper angle on him and it’s rare when the first defender gets him to the ground. He’s also a capable receiver out of the backfield. While we project him as an offensive player at the next level, some like him on the defensive side of the ball because of his range and hard-hitting style of play. Overall, he’s a kid that has a chance to be an all-conference performer if he lands in the right system.
Previous ranking: 56
Plano, TXPlano East
In a year when there are so many small backs in the state, Opurum presents a different type of back because of his 6-2, 230-pound frame. They key to Opurum’s game is versatility. Although he’s a talented runner, one of the things that jump out at you is his abilities to make plays as a receiver out of the backfield. Although he’s probably not a true 4.5 guy, he has enough speed to effectively get to the corner and he’s very good at making people miss in tight quarters. Despite his size, he’s not really shown himself to be a workhorse tailback that can make a living between the tackles. It’s not so much that he can’t do it as much as I haven’t seen him used in that role. The one thing that we know for sure is that he has the potential to be a match-up problem for opposing defenses because of his pass-catching skills. In a lot of ways he reminds me of current UT starting running back Chris Ogbonnaya.
Previous ranking: 55
You know it’s a deep year at defensive back in the Lone Star State when a kid as talented as Kande ranks as only the fifth or sixth best defensive back in the state. The 5-11, 182-pound Kande is going to enter his fourth season as a starter for Euless Trinity and he’s, proven to be one of the top playmakers for one of the state’s top programs. Although he’s plays some cornerback and is comfortable in coverage, he’s at his best when he’s roaming the field as a centerfielder at safety. A tough run defender that doesn’t shy away from contact, Kande also has a lot of range and good ball skills. He probably doesn’t have an elite-level set of physical tools, but he’s another kid that is just a fantastic football player and I expect him to be an early contributor in college.
Previous ranking: 63
Thomas is a prospect that’s a major work in progress, but there’s no question that for a kid that comes in a 6-1, 195-pound frame, he’s got a lot of the physical tools needed to excel at the next level. My problem with him as a prospect is that I’m really not sure where you play him at the next level. On offense, I’m not sure that he’s a natural at running back or receiver, although he’s another player that reminds me a little of current UT running back senior Chris Ogbonnaya. As a defensive player, he’s a bit of a tweener, but he looks like he’s probably headed for a future at linebacker, but he really needs some instruction early in his career. One thing to keep in mind about the kid is that he’s a high motor kid and plays with a lot of passion and want-to. So, while he’s definitely going to be a bit of a project, his athleticism, versatility and attitude could translate to good things down the road.
Previous ranking: 75
Abilene, TXAbilene Cooper
If you’re looking for a safety that has sideline-to-sideline range and has the ability to be a downhill force, this West Texan is your guy. An extremely active player, Ford is a tackling machine and he plays without fear. The thing that seems to separate him from some of his peers is his closing speed. When this kid locks in on his target, he can close in on them in the blink of an eye. An above-average athlete, there are some questions about just how good of a coverage safety he’ll be at the next level, but he’s proven to be a solid player in that respect thus far in his career. At the end of the day you won’t find an elite-level athlete when you look at Ford, but there’s no question that he’s a hell of a pure football player.
Previous ranking: 66
McAllister is another kid that I like a lot, but he’s a classic tweener. At the moment he’s most comfortable with his hand on the ground, but his body type is best suited for playing linebacker. The problem is that he’s played so much at defensive end that he’s just not ready to spin back to linebacker with a seamless transition. If we can get past the fact that he’s a bit of a player without a natural position, it’s important to note that when he’s coming off the edge as a pass rusher, he can be a dominant force because of his lightening quick first-step and explosiveness off the edge. He’s a total project at this point, but at the end of the day he has a gift that can’t be taught – he can rush the passer and he can rush the passer well. That ability alone makes him an attractive commodity for me. If anyone can help him harness all of that ability, he’s got a chance to be an impact college player.
Previous ranking: 67
Grand Prairie, TXSouth Grand Prairie
The Longhorns are looking for linebackers that have sideline-to-sideline range and that’s something that Nkwopara definitely possesses. Although he’s smaller than you’d like you’re linebackers to be, the 5-10, 205-pound Nkwopara does a great job of finding the football and he has shown flashes of being a playmaker. Although his performance as a junior was a little uneven, Nkwopara was sensational as a senior and earned district MVP honors, as he emerged as a playmaker on the field. With the advent of the offensive spread game in college football, the ability to play in space and cover a lot of ground is a dire necessity, and Nkwopara gives you that. He might need a few years before he’s ready for prime time, but the kid showed a lot of promise as a senior and there’s reason to think his best football is in front of him.
Previous ranking: 92
Scales will usually create a different emotion every time you watch him play. On occasions he can be a physically imposing force, especially in the running game. Yet there have been occasions when I’ve seen him and wondered what planet I’m living on because he just doesn’t always play with the level of consistency you’d like to see, but that’s not completely uncommon at this level, especially when you’re talking about kids that have always gotten by on their size against smaller players. All of that being said, this is a kid that passes the eyeball test in person and he obviously has some impressive tools. Although he’s listed as a tackle in the Rivals database, I tend to view him as an inside player because he’s not a fluid enough athlete to play on the perimeter at the next level. As inside player, I think he’ll have a chance to be a plus-run blocker and an adequate pass blocker in the early part of his career.
Previous ranking: 69
Dallas, TXW H Adamson
Here’s another favorite of mine that I think has the potential to be a much better prospect that his Rivals ranking my suggest. Although he’s currently 6-2, 200 pounds, it would be a huge stretch to suggest that he can add another 25-30 pounds to his frame without having to give up a lot in way of speed. As a defensive back, his range is somewhat limited. However, as a linebacker prospect, he rates as a plus-athlete that can potentially emerge as a sideline-to-sideline guy. He’ll be a work in progress for a couple of years, but this kid’s ceiling is high.
Previous ranking: 67
If you just look at this guy’s highlight film, you know that he has a ton of upside after the third clip. At 6-1, 175 pounds, he has a little “juice” as a threat in the open field and when he’s used as a receiver, he can turn a small play into a big play in the blink of an eye. He doesn’t possess elite-level speed, but he has a great initial burst that allows him to create separation from defenders. The biggest question facing McNeal deals with why he wasn’t a better overall player in high school. Although he probably should be focusing on receiver, he gave an uneven performance as a senior and split time with another player. The productivity hasn’t been there and that’s why he’s a little further down the list than the film probably suggests he could be. If there are five guys in this class that I might end up regretting not having higher, he could be one of the guys.
Previous ranking: 82
Taylor is like a lot of the backs in the state this season in that he’s best-suited to play in the spread offense and excels on draws and zone-read type plays. Although he likes to bounce everything outside, he doesn’t have the burst and speed that some of the other prospects in the state possess and I do wonder how his game will translate when he’s forced to compete against tougher competition. That being said, he’s a good North/South runner and he can make people miss in space. He’s just a little less dynamic than some of the other prospects at his position in this class in my mind.
Previous ranking: 64
Houston, TXCypress Ridge
At 5-11, 201 pounds, Lipscomb claims a 4.38 time in the 40 and while I’m not sure if he’s that fast, I know he’s almost always one of the fastest and quickest guy on the field. He’s at his best when he’s featured on draws and on the zone-read, so it’ll be important that he plays in a spread offense. He should be a player that has a chance to have an immediate impact on special teams. The knock on Lipscomb is that he’s a bit of a one trick player because he looks to bounce everything outside and he’s not a player that appears comfortable in the middle of the field at this stage of his career. He’s going to need to get stronger, improve his receiving skills and learn that the entire field can be his friend.
Previous ranking: 53
This one is pretty simple to explain. Of all the prospects in the state of Texas, Goodwin might not be the most developed player at this point, but he’s a legitimate world-class athlete in his age group. At 5-10, 170 pounds, Goodwin is still very raw, but it’s easy to see where he has the potential to be a difference maker on special teams in the return game and as a slot receiver on offense. There’s a good chance that Goodwin will never step foot on the gridiron when he gets to college because of his elite-level track and field abilities, but from an explosiveness standpoint, there’s really not anyone else in the state like him. As a junior, Goodwin was a key component in Rowlett's state title in track and field, finishing first in the triple jump (50-00.50) and long jump (26-01.15), second in the 100 meters (10.38) and also running a leg on the 4x100 and 4x200 relay teams which finished first and third, respectively. Goodwin's mark in the long jump is actually more than one inch better than the best mark turned in by all of the Big 12 this season. If we actually knew for certain that he was going to concentrate on football at the next level, he’d rate as a state top 40-type recruit.
Previous ranking: 65
Garland, TXNaaman Forest
Like his brother (Melvin), who is currently playing in the NFL, this Bullitt will arrive at the next level with the physical tools needed to excel at the next level. In fact, in a lot of respects, I think Terrance is a more complete football player at this stage of his development. At 6-3, 178 pounds, Bullitt is a plus-athlete, but he lacks great speed and that’s the big knock on him at this point. Still, he’s looks like a very instinctive player that’s comfortable playing near the line of scrimmage or back in coverage. Consistency is an issue because I’ve seen games where he looks great and others where he’s hardly a factor, but there’s no question that he’s a high-effort player that has a chance to develop into a very good player.
Previous ranking: 83
At 6-1, 180 pounds, Jackson is a developing athlete that will certainly go up in the air to get the football. That’s the first thing that jumps out about his skill set as an athlete. As he continues to get stronger and perhaps faster, he’s got a chance to be a very good possession receiver at the next level. The drawback on Jones is that he’s not a quick-twitch athlete and isn’t going to run away from college defensive backs at this point and there’s not a lot of wiggle in his game. He’s a straight-line runner that’s not going to create a lot of noise after the short catch.
Previous ranking: 93
This is a player that Texas was reportedly high on, but the lack of numbers prevented the Longhorns from going after Williams. At 6-3, 185 pounds, Williams is an active player that possesses plus-athleticism and has shown the ability to cover the field from sideline-to-sideline. He needs to get stronger and more physical in run defense, but he’s an active player that has a fairly high ceiling.
Previous ranking: 96
A high school quarterback in college, Jones projects as an athlete that can play on either side of the ball, but he’s probably best suited for playing at receiver on offense. Physically, he reminds me a lot of former Texas wide receiver Billy Pittman. He’s got good speed, quickness and a good one-cut burst that allows him to separate from defenders, but he doesn’t have the type of big-time athletic ability that is going to allow him to finish a lot of potential big plays at the next level. Overall, he’s a good athlete and he has a chance to be a nice all-purpose weapon.
Previous ranking: 68
There’s a lot to like about Swope because he’s a versatile player that possesses a good size/athleticism combination. In fact, Swope is probably a better athlete right now than he is a football player, which is both a good and bad thing. On one hand, he has more physical upside than some ranked ahead of him, but he’s just not emerged yet as a truly elite-level player on the field. As a runner, he’s a straight line guy that can take it to the house if he gets a seam. He’s also a very good receiver out of the backfield and will be a terrific screen guy in college. All of that being said, he just never impressed me as the kind of guy that jumped out as one of the best players on the field every time I watched him.
Previous ranking: 84
A high school receiver by trade, the 6-4, 211-pound Darden looks like a future tight end/H-back that could end up being a very good college player. Darden is a good leaper that has the ability to snatch the football out of the air with his hands. Despite his size and abilities as a receiver, Darden lacks game-breaking speed and will likely have trouble creating separation against high-level defensive backs, which is why he’s best suited to add some weight to his still growing frame and play at a different position. Darden came into the season as a guy that I thought might move into the top 50 with a strong senior season, but after he suffered a fractured fibula and a torn ankle tendon early this season, there are some obvious red flags because of injury concerns. Still, this is a kid that has legitimate pass-catching abilities and with his size and athleticism, he possesses a high ceiling. If not for the injury, he’d probably be rated a little higher.
Previous ranking: 71
Dallas, TXSt. Mark's
On paper this is a kid that you’d probably project as a top 15-20 type prospect, but when you watch Ussery on film, you’re wondering why he doesn’t perform at a higher level than he has, especially when you consider the lower level of competition. The good news is that at 6-3, 175 pounds, Ussery is a tremendous leaper and he has above-average speed (sub 4.5). He’s a little raw and he certainly is going to need some talent, but his physical tools are good enough that most coaching staffs across the country will be willing to show a little patience in the hope that if he can ever put it all together, he’s got a chance to be a very good college player.
Previous ranking: 70
Matthews is just a good player that performs much better on the field during actual game action than he would at a combine. At 6-3, 180 pounds, Matthews doesn’t have the strongest arm and he’s not the best athlete out on the field, but the kid is a terrific field general that simply knows how to make plays. In a lot of ways he reminds me of former Arlington Bowie quarterback Sherrod Harris, but he’s probably a little bit ahead of where Harris was at during the same stage of their developments because he hasn’t had the injuries that Harris had and he’s enjoyed more overall success as a player. A very good runner that has the ability to make people miss in space, Harris needs more development in the passing game, but his work in the passing game is still a work in progress. Still, he’s comfortable throwing the football and has the ability to make a lot of throws that he’s going to need to make. He’s probably a few seasons away from being ready to compete for playing time in a conference like the Big 12, but he’s another kid that has a pretty high ceiling.
Previous ranking: 72
Gray is another big kid that gives maximum effort at all times, but definitely lacks some of the elite physical tools that would make him an a blue chip player at the highest order. At 6-6, 288 pounds, Gray has the size/frame that everyone covets, but doesn’t have great knee-bend and he doesn’t look to have the kind of quick feet needed to play left tackle in college. Frankly, when it’s all said and done, he might best-suited to play inside because his strongest parts of his game right now is his ability to get physical in the running game. Keep in mind that Gray missed time as a junior because of a serious injury, so he’s likely going to be a player that gets a lot better as he’s able to get a couple of full seasons in the weight room. At the end of the day, he’s a smart, hard-working player on the field that has the potential to be a much better player than his ranking might indicate.
Previous ranking: 73
Missouri City, TXHightower
Here’s the deal: this is one of my favorite sleepers in the state. At 6-2, 177 pounds, I don’t view him as a safety prospect as much as I think he could eventually grow into the linebacker position and if that the case, his playmaking ability could make him one of the more dynamic players in the state. As a defensive back prospect, I’m concerned about his lack of top end speed and range, but he’s a very physical player and he just seems to make plays when he’s out on the field. He’s a total projection guy, but his ceiling is much higher than some other guys if he is given a few years to develop into the position.
Previous ranking: 78
Weaver’s problem is that he’s a classic tweener that reminds me a little of former Tyler Lee star Nic Redwine. Usually four out of every five guys like him really struggle at the next level when asked to make the change in position that he’s going to attempt to make. The truth is that he’s an explosive player at defensive end with a quick first step and he’s strong at the point of attack. The issue is that at 6-2, 210 pounds, he’s going to likely have to move to linebacker. When you evaluate him as a linebacker, you worry a little about how well he’ll play in space. He’s at his best when he’s moving forward and able to turn his aggressive style loose, but it remains to be seen how his skill set will translate to the college game.
Previous ranking: 79
At 5-11, 200 pounds, Isadore doesn’t have ideal size or speed as an inside linebacker, but one of the things that he does do is get the absolute most out of his abilities. A tough, hard-nosed player that can often be a vicious hitter, Isadore is comfortable in dropping back into coverage and he’s a pretty fluid athlete, but there’s no question that has some range issues and he’s going to have to prove that he can overcome some of his size/speed issues. He’s the kind of kid that you wish were 6-2, 225 pounds because most of the kids that do possesses that kind of frame aren’t nearly as good of players.
Previous ranking: 80
At 6-3,233 pounds, Kirby is a good defensive line prospect, but I question where he’s best-suited to play the next level. While he currently plays up and down the line of scrimmage for Huntsville, including snaps as a standup defensive end/linebacker, it’s hard to imagine him being a high-level defensive end because he lacks the burst and athleticism to be a true playmaker off the edge. His best bet might be to add some more size to his still developing frame and see if he can make the transition to defensive tackle. IThe good news for Kirby is that he’s a very good football player that should be able to develop into a very serviceable player if he can make that transition, but he might need a few seasons of development before he gets there. That being said, his lack of plus-athleticism limits his ceiling to a degree.
Previous ranking: 86
If the 6-2, 230-pound Maponga were a more naturally fluid athlete, he’d rank much higher on the list, but that’s the issue with him. When you watch him up-close, you see a hard-nosed, high-effort player that gives 100% on the field, but he has some limitations because he doesn’t have a great burst or truly-plus athleticism. Still, he’s really strong at the point of attack and might just need to be coached up a little more. Right now he’s a bull in a china closet on the field, but with some polish he might have a chance to emerge as a quality defensive end.
Previous ranking: 87
Finding quality interior defensive line prospects isn’t an easy task, which is why Tuipulotu has emerged as a key in-state recruit for a number of programs. As a high school player, this is a kid that can control the line of scrimmage and beat one-on-one blocks with ease. He’s got a quick first step and he’s relentless in his pursuit of the ball. The sticking point for a lot of people is his size. Although he’s got a thick trunk, you can’t help but wonder how he’ll hold up against the monsters he’ll face at the next level. If he succeeds at the next level, he’ll need to be a master of leverage and pad level because he struggles at times at this stage of his development with getting off of blocks if he can’t beat his guy off the snap. At this level he’s able to pretty much outmuscle his opponents, but it might take some time for him to adjust at the next level.
Previous ranking: 74
Tyler, TXChapel Hill
Tucker’s an interesting prospect because he’s kind of a poor man’s Dexter Pratt. At 6-1, 215 pounds, there’s no denying that the hard-charging runner has been a major success at running back in high school, as he racked up nearly 4,000 yards in his final two seasons at Chapel Hill. As successful as Tucker has been, he’s not an elite level playmaker and because he’s a little heavy-footed, it’s tough to judge just how easily he’ll be able to make the adjustment to the speed changes of the next level. Personally, I view Tucker as a potential defensive player that has the mindset and physical tools to be a good linebacker with some schooling.
Previous ranking: 76
Round Rock, TXStony Point
Martin was a do-it-all performer for a very good Stony Point team. Although he’s not a quick-twitch, ultra-explosive back that is going to make a lot of miss, he’s got great ball skills and his size and balance allow him to break tackles and fun for big plays. In my mind, his skill set will be best utilized in a spread offense that allows him to play a multitude of roles besides the conventional receiver/tailback role. At the very, very least, Martin should be an excellent prospect in the return game and I expect him to be a very serviceable college player.
Previous ranking: NR
If Cobb were a little lighter on his feet, he’d be a strong candidate for the top 50 as a safety prospect. As it is, the 6-1, 195-pound Cobb is a little bit of a tweener between defensive back and linebacker, but there’s no question that he’ll strike anything that moves and he’s a pretty good athlete. His biggest problem is that while he’s a great downhill player, he sometimes has a tough time moving laterally and it’s why most schools view him as a linebacker at the next level. Overall, he’s a productive player that just doesn’t have the elite-level feet and quickness to be a super blue chip prospect, but there’s more than enough talent to work with for him to emerge as a viable college defender..
Previous ranking: 89
Port Arthur, TXPort Arthur Memorial
When I look at Scypion I see a pretty good player with a nice frame that probably is going to need to completely commit himself to becoming the best player that he can become because his natural athletic skill isn’t good enough to think he can simply rely on that. At 6-3, 214 pounds, Scypion is a pretty good pass rusher, but he doesn’t have a great first step and probably isn’t going to be a high-level pass rusher. Also, he handles himself fairly well at the plan of attack, but he obviously needs to get in the weight room as soon as he reports to college. Overall, he’s a nice player/prospect that has the frame you’re looking for, but he’s a definite project that will likely need a few seasons before he’s ready for prime-time.
Previous ranking: 90
Mesquite, TXNorth Mesquite
There’s no question that this kid has the size to play at the next level. At 6-5, 347 pounds, this is a guy that can block out the sun by simply turning to his side, but the question is whether he has the kind of feet and athleticism to play at a high level against elite-level competition. There’s no doubt that he’s going to be playing inside and his strength as a player at this point is definitely in the running game. As a pass protector, he really needs some retooling and he might be a guy that needs a few years to develop before he’s ready for serious playing time. If he can keep his weight under control and improve with some coaching, he’s got a chance.
Previous ranking: 94
Elysian Fields, TXElysian Fields
This East Texas product is a football player’s football player, but there’s some question about where his long-term home will be at the next level. Although he plays defensive end in high school and is being recruited as an end by the Longhorns, Kriegel isn’t an elite-pass rush prospect off the edge. However, what he might lack in elite quickness, Kriegel more than makes up for it in other areas. He’s strong at the point of attack and is better with an inside rush than he is with an outside rush, which makes him a strong candidate to move inside if he can gain added size to his frame.
Previous ranking: 91
Brown doesn’t get by on athletic ability as much as he gets by with a punishing style of play. At 6-6, 312 pounds, Brown has the ability to maul people in the running game, but his footwork and play in pass protection need some schooling. Still, he plays hard, has a reputation for being a hard worker and he has some upside as a long-term project.
Previous ranking: 97
Franklin is another tweener type on the defensive line that just doesn’t possess the elite-level physical tools to be regarded as a higher-rated prospect. At 6-3, 200ish pounds, Franklin is an undersized defensive end that seems to have some physical limitations that might make him a definite defensive end prospect and not someone that can be spun back to linebacker. He’s a good player at the point of attack and he can be a disruptive player, but does he project as a dynamic college player? The jury is really out on that one.
Previous ranking: 99
White’s a pretty easy kid to project because his size limits him to a large degree. He’s an all-purpose threat in the return game and on offense, and if he lands with the right scheme/coaching staff, he’s got a chance to be a very good offensive weapon. At this point he’s more of a running back than receiver, so his ball skills as a receiver are doing to need to be developed, but he’s got good speed and explosiveness. It might take some time for him to develop, but he has a tool set that will allow him to be an above-average college performer.
Previous ranking: NR
Along with Barrett Matthews, this kid has a chance to emerge as one of the top fullback prospects in the Lone Star State this year. At 6-1, 215 pounds, Robinson has the size and skill to develop into a versatile fullback prospect. The kid has very good feet and possesses the ability to make guys miss in space, but he’s not going to run away from many people at the next level. Although he’s not a quick-twitch athlete, he’s very good in goal line and other short-yardage situations. Overall, the kid comes from one of the state’s top programs and he’s been a very productive player throughout his high school career. Yes, he has some limitations, but he’s got the ability to be a good college player.
Previous ranking: 94