There have been some amazing running back prospects over the years from this state, but you have to go back a decade to Cedric Benson to find a player that has built a resume quite like the one that Gray has built over the last two seasons. Like Benson, Gray is a guy that achieves his success with the other team knowing he's going to touch it almost every play and it doesn't seem to matter. One of the things that really separate Gray from his peers is the fact that he uses the entire field as his canvass. Between the tackles, he runs with a true downhill lean that slows him to finish runs with extra yardage on a carry-by-carry basis, but he brings the kind of home run pop that makes him a threat to score every time he gets through the second level of the defense. There's very little wasted motion with Gray, who gets North/South as quickly and as well as any back in the state. When Gray makes a move on a defender, he's able to do it with a smooth suddenness that allows him to make it near-full speed. The burst out of his cuts, coupled with tremendous outright speed is what makes him such a weapon in the open field. Also, enough can't be made out of the fact that Gray brings a complete set of tools to the table as a runner, receiver out of the backfield and as a blocker, while also possessing the kind of intangibles as a player that has allowed him to carry Aledo to two straight titles on his back. The running styles are not the same at all, but everything else about Gray from a make-up factor on the field reminds me of Benson.
At 6-4, 275 pounds, guys like Edwards aren't supposed to exist at the high school level, especially not when they have the quickness and athleticism off the edge to represent a dominant pass rush threat. Most players of his build would easily project as an interior prospect, but Edwards is one of those guys that has the ability to play inside or outside, even as he continues to grow into a frame that might one day carry 300 pounds. Edwards isn't lightning quick off the snap, but he's got a good first step and his ability to rush inside or out, while also doing an incredible job of using his hands, makes him a one-on-one nightmare for opposing offensive linemen. Of course, rushing the passer is just one half of the game and Edwards' ability to pursue the football up and down the line of scrimmage makes him a player that has to be accounted for on every snap. At his absolute best, Edwards is a rare defensive line prospect that can pretty much do it all and it would be a shock if he's not an early contributor at the collegiate level because he's got the skills to play right now.
There have been a lot of Tommie Harris comparisons over the course of the last year or so with Brown, but I'm not sure how spot on that is. While Harris had a first-step that Brown can't quite match, Brown's a better overall player that plays with more relentlessness and consistency than Harris did as a young player at Killeen Ellison. One thing that they have in common, aside from size (Brown is 6-2, 280 pounds to Harris' 6-3, 275-pound frame at the same stage) is the ability become a one-one-one match-up with just about any offensive lineman. Brown, who is a plus-athlete and gets off the ball extremely well, plays with great pad level and does a sensational job for a young player of using his hands to get off of blocks. Once he gets his head across his opponent, he cannot be blocked and his ability to get up and down the line of scrimmage as an athlete makes him a rare guy. Usually, when you see a guy like Brown you have to teach him the game of football, but he's just a natural football player and one of the safest players in this class. In terms of versatility, he can line-up as a nose-guard or he can line up outside on a three-man line. When you consider his gifts as a player, he has a chance to be a Sunday player in time if he maximizes his ability.
There's been a renaissance in this state in recent years with small running backs and this year's top option is Williams, who has only rushed for just shy of 4,200 yards in the last two years. In a lot of ways he reminds me of former Temple running back Lache Seastrunk, but with more well-rounded football skill when the pads come on. Like Seastrunk, Williams is a blur on the field when the ball is in his hands and every time he gets a seam or a crease, his explosive running ability makes him a threat to score. Obviously, at 5-8, 175 pounds, Williams' size is going to be a concern and he's not going to be everyone's cup of tea as an every-down back, but he's in the mold of a Jaquizz Rodgers or Lamichael James, and looks like a kid that can be more than a 10-touch per game all-purpose back in the right scheme/offense. Like those other runners, Williams' speed will cause him to bounce a lot of runs outside, but he's a tough runner that can break tackles and he won't flinch if you run him between the tackles. His overall top end speed might not be elite, but the burst and explosion over his first 20 yards absolutely is.
Pound for pound, you're not going to find many players in the state better than Sanders, who dominated on both sides of the ball last season in East Texas. As a defensive player, you can absolutely make the case that Sanders is the best corner prospect in the entire state. At 6-1, 175 pounds, Sanders is effortless in his backpedal and coverage abilities, but his ball skills and physical style of play make him potentially a special player on that side of the ball. Whether he's running sideline to sideline to make a hit or making a leaping, off-balance interception, he's a guy that can do it all. Sanders is also a talented threat on the offensive end, where his combination of size and skill make him a big-time offensive threat. Still, he's damn near the perfect defensive back prospect and that's where I think he projects the best, but the kid can be a Sunday guy on either side of the ball.
Johnson has carried a big-time rep since his sophomore season when he at times overshadowed BYU-bound Ross Apo as a quarterback for Arlington Oakridge and then as a junior when drew comparisons to Mike Davis upon his arrival at Dallas Skyline. While the 2010 season was supposed to be a breakout year for the fleet-footed receiver, a nasty ankle injury limited him throughout the season and I'm not sure we ever truly saw him at 100% after the first half of the first game of the season. At his best, Johnson is the kind of guy that can take a short hitch from anywhere on the field and take it the distance. In terms of open-field abilities, there might not be anyone in the state that's as good right after the catch at making the first guy miss. What we didn't always see from his as a junior was the ability to explode and pull away from defenders at all times, but his ankle injury was severe enough to rob him of two months of action. My bet is that he'll return to his pre-injury form as a senior and his explosiveness will again prove to be elite. The thing that also cannot be discounted is the fact that this guy is a terrific natural receiver. Johnson gets in and out of his breaks cleanly and his ability to get the football while it's in the air is supreme. While he lacks some size, he'll work the entire field as a receiver and doesn't have a lot of restrictions.
San Antonio, TXSam Houston
Big, athletic interior line prospects with the natural skill and ability make plays up and down the line of scrimmage are worth their weight and gold, which is one of the reasons why Magee has emerged as a key prospect for schools throughout the state. At 6-5, 262 pounds, Magee is just starting to scratch the surface of what he can do on the field as a player and he'll definitely need some time in the weight room to develop his upper body and overall strength, but it's easy to see him at 300 pounds in a few years and being an incredibly difficult match-up up and down the line of scrimmage for opposing offensive linemen. Currently, he plays mostly defensive end for Sam Houston, but he doesn't have the burst off the edge that would make the threat as a pass rusher you need to keep him on the edge. Still, for his size, he moves very well, plays with physicality and does a good job of defending the run up and down the line of scrimmage. That ability to flash playmaking flair, along with the type of size/athleticism combo you can't teach makes him a prized project with a ton of upside.
If we're talking natural receiver skills, Jones ranks up there with the Shipley brothers as one of the most gifted this state has ever produced. Some guys were just meant to do certain things and with the 6-3, 198-pound Jones, he was meant to play wide receiver. Despite battling injuries, Jones has caught more than 150 passes for nearly 2,000 yards and 20 touchdowns in the last two seasons, and he's produced in just about every fashion possible. A terrific route runner that is able to get in and out of his breaks with smooth ease and there's not a better player in the state at catching the football away from his body with his hands. When you mix in elite-level ball skills, you've got a dangerous weapon. More than a glider when he has the ball than anything else, Jones probably doesn't possess the elite-level burst and speed to qualify as a big-time vertical threat at the next level, but his ability to work the short and intermediate routes is top-level. You would like to see Jones do more after the catch than we've seen at the high school level, but the truth of the matter is that all of his flash comes in getting open and catching the ball when the ball is anywhere within reach. If Jones lands in the right situation, he could be an immediate producer at the collegiate level because he's as polished at his age as they come.
In a year when the state of Texas has one of the best offensive line classes that it has seen in a decade, the best of the bunch if Estelle for a number of reasons - the biggest bring the fact that nobody else in the state brings the near-college ready size on a near perfect frame to go along with terrific athleticism and dominant ability on the field. At 6-7, 292 pounds, Estelle moves around the field like a big cat and when he's asked to play on the move, his ability to effectively block at the second level is impressive. Although his primary strength as a player is in the running game, he's also possesses the feet and skill needed to thrive on an island against top-shelf pass rushers. As he continues to add upper-body strength to his long frame, he has a chance to be an elite-level college tackle with legitimate NFL upside. In all of the years I've been covering recruiting in the state of Texas, there haven't been many tackles like Estelle.
Missouri City, TXHightower
Every time I watch Addison's film, I recall the scene in the original Rocky when Mickey forces Rocky to chase the chicken, but in this film Addison is always the chicken. When Addison has the ball in his hands, he's damn near impossible for the other team to get their hands on, which makes him hell on wheels as an offensive playmaker. As a junior, he did a little bit of everything at quarterback for Hightower, amassing nearly 3,000 yards of total offense and 43 touchdowns as perhaps the best quarterback in the city of Houston. As a college prospect, he projects as an athlete that can play on either side of the ball, although his ability to put the ball in the end zone is tough to ignore. At 5-10, 182 pounds, Addison doesn't have elite-level speed, but his ability to break defenders down and leave the grasping for air is as good as it gets. In fact, he's so slippery that at times it seems like he's toying with those at the high school level. In terms of feet and quickness, he's got it all, so it's easy to see him as a game-breaking receiver/return man at the next level. Also, although he prefers the offensive side of the ball, his optimum position might be on the other side of the ball as a cornerback because he's tailor-made for the position.
If you were to take stock of all of Ridgeway's skill sets on a 1-10 scale, he might not rank as a 10 in any single category, but he's above-average in all areas, which is why he ranks as a solid four-star prospect. At 6-3, 235 pounds, Ridgeway isn't a tweener, but he also doesn't possess ideal size, which means that he'll almost surely be a weak-side defensive end prospect at the next level. Ridgeway is a plus-pass rusher off the edge because he possesses a quick burst off the edge and he has the speed to chase down plays. He's also a very good player at the point of attack, as he plays with good pad level, uses his hands very well and has a knack for making plays. In fact, his ability to chase run plays down the line of scrimmage as a back-side pursuer is probably the aspect of his game that stands out the most right now because it reflects the relentlessness he often plays with. As he makes the move to the next level, he's going to need to increase his overall strength and it might take a couple of years of development before he's ready to make a big impact, but Ridgeway is a really good player that plays with a high motor and can do a little bit of everything.
It would be unfair to simply tag Riser with the tag of a mauler because he moves too well and is too athletic to lump into the category of pound and ground guy, but when you watch him in the running game and project his work as an interior lineman at the next level, it's hard not to imagine him as a run-blocking force at the next level. At 6-3, 284 pounds, Riser plays with a mean streak that turns him into a finisher in the ground game, but as a high-level player for one of the state's top programs for a couple of years running, he's also flashed versatility along the way. Although his frame isn't ideal for the tackle position at the next level, he does play on an island for DeSoto and his outstanding combination of quick feet, long arms and natural athleticism make him a player that should be a plus-player in pass protection over time. The biggest issue with Riser at the moment is that his technique drifts at times and he's going to need some time to harness his natural skill. As he continues to develop his frame in the weight room and improves his technique, he has a chance to emerge as an impact starter for multiple years at the college level.
I don't know Fields is quite 6-4 and I don't know if he is quite 220 pounds, but there is no mistaking the fact that Fields is one crazy athletic defensive end prospect. In his first full season of varsity football, Fields didn't show a lot of technique, but there's no question that he showed legitimate playmaking skills up and down the line of scrimmage. He's still a little slow off the ball and isn't always quick to recognize plays, but once he starts to find a comfort zone that stuff will come. At this point in his physical development, Fields looks more like a basketball player than a football player and he needs to work out in the weight room because he struggles in defending the run at the point of attack. Still, he's a real diamond in the rough and his ceiling as a player could be as an elite pass rusher at the next level
At first glance it might be easy to over look Harris. He’s too short, too skinny, and well that’s just not going to cut it. However, it does not take long to realize you can’t discount Harris and he makes sure you don’t because if you do he will make you pay. He is surprisingly physical and attacks the ball and/or the ball carrier. His ability to turn and go is as good as any in the country and he makes great adjustments to the ball. He is a ballhawking player who will not be defined by a few measurements. He defies his size and is a natural lock down cornerback.
Copperas Cove, TXCopperas Cove
Cove has a history have having athletic quarterbacks that often fly a little under the radar and although Thomas doesn't project as a Saturday starter under center, there's no mistaking that he's the kind of guy that could emerge as a playmaker on either side of the ball. At 5-11, 175 pounds, Thomas is a plus-athlete that qualified for regionals in the 110 meter hurdles and 800-meter relay, while long jumping 21+ feet as a sophomore. Although he's not a strong passer, Thomas was a playmaker for Cove in every way, as he used his quickness and athleticism to create plays out of the shotgun. Thomas reminds me a little of a young Derrick Strait in that he doesn't always look like he's running the fast, but yet he's always running away from people. He's a cat-quick kind of guy and once he opens up, he has a smooth, effortless stride as runner. With his quick feet, easy hips and long arms, it's easy to project him as a cornerback in college, but when you watch him score pass, catch and run for a touchdown in the same game, you'll come away thinking it'll be hard to rip him from the offensive side of the ball. Oh yeah, he also projects as a plus-return man on special teams. He'll need some time in the weight room, but this is a kid that has a chance to be a dynamic college player down the road.
Mineral Wells, TXMineral Wells
Mineral Wells is not your typical recruiting hotbed, but Colbert is a special talent. He flew under the radar for the majority of the season but quickly drew attention from college coaches with his play in 2011. Colbert was as hot as any prospect in the state towards the end of the season reeling in offers from Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, TCU, and Baylor. So why were so many schools interested? Colbert is an elite-level athlete. He has elite speed and loves contact. He can flat out cover a lot of ground and has the hips to turn and go without missing a beat. Sloppy play and lack of technique at times do get the best of him as he can rely too much on his pure athleticism. He likes the big hit, which can be fun, but without the wrap it can lead to missed tackles. There is no doubt Colbert has what it takes to be one of the best and as he works and refines his abilities.
For my money, there's not a more exciting player in the state with the ball in his hands than Wheeler, who can stop, start and explode as well as anyone in the state and once he hits his top gear, he can separate from defenders. Basically, he's the Boba Fett of the Lone Star State. At 6-1, 175 pounds, Wheeler is also an incredible leaper with even better ball skills, which makes him both a feared player in the vertical passing game and around the goal line. Athletically, there's just not much that he can't do and if he wanted to focus on the defensive side of the ball, he'd register as one of the state's top cornerback prospects. The only real knock on Wheeler is that he's raw as a receiver and will need some time/reps at the position, but his upside as a multi-faceted game-breaker is as good as any player in the state. If Wheeler allows his game to develop and learns how to harness all of his abilities, the sky is the limit.
Houston, TXKlein Forest
2010 had a little bit of good and a little bit of bad news for the 6-2, 205-pound Davis. If we start with the bad, Davis lost almost all of his junior season because of a right ACL tear. The good news is that Davis had already established himself as one of the top quarterback prospects in the country as a sophomore and his recruiting stock hasn't taken a hit because of the injury. Before the injury, Davis was one of the top run-threats at the quarterback position in the state, having rushed for nearly 1,500 yards and 22 touchdowns as a sophomore. His open field running skills are top-shelf because of his ability stop and start on the move and he's got the speed to take it the distance when he gets through the second-level of the defense. Assuming his injury isn't a major issue moving forward, there's no questioning his playmaking skills as a runner. As a passer, Davis is a bit of a project and the missed reps from the 2010 season make it tough to properly evaluate him. If we go off of sophomore video, the arm strength is fine, but his ability to deliver the ball in the pocket is a question mark. Of course, his ability to throw on the move is a plus, but he needs a good coach to help get rid of some of his bad habits. It's also possible that he's going to be a wide receiver or defensive back at the next level because his athleticism possibly projects a couple of places if the quarterback development doesn't happen.
San Antonio, TXBrandeis
In the spring the rising star and as hot a prospect as any in the state. Like Colbert, Blake went from a virtual unknown to grabbing the attention of everyone across the country. Blake played his first high school football season as a junior in 2010, which put him a little behind the recruiting curve. It did not take long for everyone to figure out he was a big time talent. He is a long, rangy cornerback with great speed. He is a quick twitch athlete and flips his hips very well especially considering his size. He could play either safety or cornerback with his size and has proven himself to be a big play threat in only two years of high school football.
Speed and playmaking ability. That's exactly what the 5-11, 180-pound Coleman brings to the table and it really doesn't matter where you play him because he's the kind of athlete that can do a little bit of everything. As an offensive player, he can create big plays out of the backfield or line up split out. An excellent route runner that has shown a lot of versatility as a receiver, Coleman ranks as perhaps the top true vertical threat in the state this season and his speed is the kind that keeps defensive backs forever thinking about the deep stuff. The same raw physical tools make him an obvious defensive back prospect as well and a guy that can probably play any position in the secondary.
|#21||John Michael McGee||OL|
JMM has been a guy that has been a known commodity for several years now because of his work at both the Texas and Oklahoma summer camps, but his play on the field with pads on is superior to anything that he does in shorts and a t-shirt. A 6-4, 255 pounds, the only knock on the kid is that he doesn't have the perfect frame for a tackle (ie… you'd like him to be two inches taller), but from an ability standpoint, there's not much on a football field that he can't do on the line. He's an outstanding run blocker, despite his current lack of mass because he plays with great pad level and leverage, while adding a nasty little mean streak in there as well. He also has terrific feet, which allow him to excel in a variety of ways. In the running game, it allows him to get to have success at second and third levels, but in the passing game he has the natural quickness to handle edge rushers. He'll need a few years to develop physically, but he's a guy that can probably play any of the five spots on the line and once he his ceiling as an athlete, he has a chance to be an elite-level starter.
As far as pure athleticism and playmaking ability, there's probably not a better linebacker in the state than the 6-1, 210-pound Jinkens. To give you an idea of how explosive Jinkens is on the field, he's almost too good of a threat at running back to not have the field because his combination of skill and size make him a true game-breaking threat at the position. Hence, the 10.0+ yards per carry last season at running back, which is pretty big-time stuff when you consider that Skyline sees its share of tough competition as one of Class 5A's power programs. As a linebacker, those same offensive skills allow him to cover more ground at a faster pace than any linebacker prospect in the state. What he lacks right now on defense is strength and once he adds more muscle to his frame, he's going to finish as a defender in a much stronger way. The thing that you love to see and he shows is an absolute willingness to throw his body around in traffic. Jinkens is a little bit of a project, but he has star upside.
Speed, speed, speed and more dag gum speed. Daje Johnson has speed and lots of it. He is an explosive athlete who could be used on either side of the ball and on special teams. Johnson is not a big guy but his size is not going to hurt him. He has a stout build and he has plenty of muscle. At cornerback he is physical and can play up on a receiver and get inside to disrupt routes as well as play off and turn and go with the best of them. On offense he has some work to do on his route running but he does a good job catching the ball and is an explosive guy out of the backfield and in the screen game. Then there is the return game and no one wants to make the mistake of kicking the ball his direction. He does a great job of creating seams and hitting them with burst and explosion.
There's a lot to like about the 6-1, 195-pound McNeil, who has ranked as one of the state's top defensive backs for the last two seasons and projects as quite possibly the top safety in the Lone Star State. Two things really stick out about McNeil - his physical play and playmaking skills. The fact that he doesn't have an issue throwing his body around makes him a dangerous player when you consider his ability to close on the ball at a rapid rate. He's also a guy that always seems to find the ball when it's in the air and when he gets his hands on the ball, he can make things happen. The only downside with McNeil isn't that he's probably not as natural in man-to-man as you'd like to see, but he's not a liability in coverage by any stretch. The size, athleticism and natural skill are there for McNeil to emerge as a standout college performer.
Harker Heights, TXHarker Heights
One of the biggest reasons why nobody should ever overreact to early rankings in recruiting is that a guy like Hughes will fly under the radar for a while before emerging as a factor in both the public and college coaches' attention spans. Make no mistake about it, at 6-6, 269 pounds, Hughes is absolutely an elite tackle prospect of the highest order. Two things really jump out more than anything else when you're talking about Hughes. First, the kid has an absolute perfect frame to play tackle at the next level. There's still some physical development and strength that needs to/will be added to his frame, but in a few years he'll have a chance to play either tackle spot. That brings us to his second standout feature - his tremendous combination of athleticism and footwork. This is a kid that can flat out move and all you have to do is watch his junior highlights and see the first play when he kicks out on a screen in the flat and he gets out in time to take out a hard-charging safety… seriously… wow. He's a high-effort kid that can be a Sunday player in time if he reaches his ceiling. His downside he might be a two-year investment before the returns start to come in. A little bit of patience, some good coaching and a weight room - watch the hell out.
Waco, TXLa Vega
What I love about Starts is that he's like a fine meal that hasn't started to be made just yet. Basically, the ingredients are there for a five-star meal, but there's some work in the kitchen left to do. At 6-4, 275 pounds, Starts has a terrific frame for a tackle prospect (even if he's not quite as tall as you'd prefer in an elite level tackle), very good feet/athleticism and a game that isn't close to being tapped out. His strength is in the running game, as he brings a nasty and physical disposition to the playing field. I like the fact that when Starts is out on the field, there are times when he pushes the envelope with his physical play. The want-to on the field to be a great player seems to be there. There are times when Starts plays high and doesn't get proper pad level, but that's the kind of stuff that you pay offensive line coaches a lot of money to fix because Starts' greatest strength (raw ability) is also his biggest weakness. He's going to need some time to develop, both in the weight room and on the field (technique needs a lot of work). There's a lot of work that still needs to be done, but there's an incredibly high ceiling to shoot for.
|#27||Paul Boyette Jr.||DT|
The more I watch of Boyette, the more I like him. As far as elite defensive tackle prospects go, he doesn't have the elite first-step of raw quickness/athleticism that we've seen from other top tackles in-state in recent years, but what he perhaps gives up in burst, he makes up with physical, at the point of attack play. At 6-3, 280 pounds, Boyette is versatile enough that he can play several different techniques, in part because he does a great job of using his hands and getting off of single- and double teams. There are times when he plays a little high and he gets caught watching the game at times, but he's a flat out handful for opposing linemen and he makes plays. Like a lot of big men, there are nights when he's more dialed in than others, but when he's really dialed in, he can disrupt an entire offense. He's a little rough around the edges, but his physical play separates him from a lot of his peers.
Port Lavaca, TXCalhoun
Current LSR Rating: 5.8
San Antonio, TXRonald Reagan
Knight is an interesting guy because the physical tools appear to in place and there are times when he'll make the kind of highlight play that makes you think he's a big-time prospect, but his overall results as a quarterback on the field have been limited to date. After throwing for nine touchdowns and nine interceptions as a sophomore, Knight's improvement was marginal (11 touchdowns/eight interceptions) and his accuracy (49.6%) actually declined. Still, at 6-2, 190 pounds, Knight possesses an exciting skill set that makes you believe that he's simply going to be a late bloomer. At his best, he's a plus-athlete that brings playmaking skills as a runner to the field, while also possessing the ability to make the throws you need to make. Knight excels when he can adlib on the move, but he's going to need to learn how to better function inside the pocket at the next level and that might take some time. Overall, he's another guy that possesses all of the tools and just needs to put it all together. In the right system and with the right coaching staff, he has the ceiling to be a quality starter.
There's not a lot to dislike about the 6-3, 210-pound Nance, who emerged as perhaps the state's top linebacker prospect this year despite not entering the 2010 season without the notoriety of some of his peers. As a run defender, Nance is a very instinctive player that finds the football and the athleticism/ability to track it down wherever it might be. Although he needs to add some strength to his frame, he's a finisher upon contact and he might be a player that can play inside or out at the next level. The thing that you absolutely love about him is that he's probably the best linebacker in pass coverage that you're going to find anywhere because he back-pedals well, turns his hips with ease and he has flypaper hands to go with great natural ball skills.
League City, TXClear Springs
Johnson is a big play threat with the ball in his hands. It did not matter if it was on special teams or offense, he has game breaking ability. He has a smooth stride and is quick in and out of the break. He has sure hands and blazing speed. He has the size and strength to get down the sideline and fight off a bump and speed to blow the top off the coverage. Get him the ball in open space and he is a guy who can make a man miss. He was not on a lot of radars early one but he came on strong with a great run on the camp circuit and then as a senior on the football field.
I have a ton of thoughts on Pope, the first of which is there probably isn't a better playmaking safety in the state than the 6-3, 175-pounder. Even after tearing an ACL last year, he returned as an impact player down the stretch for one of East Texas' top programs. If you're looking for a guy on the back end of your defense to rough up teams in run defense and scare the hell out of receivers, then Pope is your guy. From a physicality standpoint, he has the goods in a way that a guy like former big-time prospect Craig Loston had them. When he's headed downhill, he can create turnovers and that has a tremendous value. He's also a guy that has pretty good pass skills, but I don't know that he's a guy that you wanted matched up much with elite receivers because their quickness is going to give him some issues. He actually plays much bigger than his listed weight and it wouldn't completely surprise to see him eventually spin down to linebacker once he fills out his frame because his style of play is well-suited for it. Bottom line - when Pope is 100 percent, he's a game changer.
One of the dangers of trying to evaluate sophomores is that there are times when they just don't make the kind of progress from year to year that would allow them to truly emerge as elite-level prospects. Yeah, that wasn't a problem for the 6-1, 210-pound Cole, who went from a good, but raw athlete/player as a sophomore to a difference maker as a junior. As a sophomore, you could see Cole's upside as an athlete, but there were times when he didn't seem like an instinctive player, but as a sophomore the green light came on in a big way and you could see the doubt/confusion erase from his mind as he just played a comfortable brand of football. With his size and speed, he ranks as one of the top strikers at the position this year and that raw explosion is what has made him a top-rated prospect. His versatility is also a strength, as he plays inside for Brenham, but there's no question that he runs well enough to play on the outside. If there's anything he needs, it's probably a little polish, but there's no reason why he shouldn't emerge as an impact player at the next level.
If Echols walks in off the street and you see him for the first time, he's not going to blow you away. At 5-10, 175-pounds, Echols isn't a guy that jumps off the film from a physical perspective, yet when you put this kid in a football uniform and put him on an island at cornerback, he performs at a level that has him in the discussion for the top player in the state at his position. Echols is effortless in his back-pedal and he once he gets into the hip of a receiver, he just sticks on him like a mosquito. Despite his relatively normal physical stats, Echols is a tough, instinctive player, who has very good ball skills (five interceptions as a junior) and he'll get in there and fight bigger player in the air. He's a high four-star player wrapped up in three-star physical numbers, but make no mistake about it - the kid is a ball player. He's got some Earl Thomas in him.
Missouri City, TXElkins
Is it me or do football-playing members of the Matthews clan seem to be popping up everywhere? It's like they are taking over the world and the next member of the family might be the best pure center prospect in the state. A bit undersized currently, there's a feeling that Matthews might not be done growing, but even if he doesn't grow another inch, he's a tremendous inside player that should be able to add the kind of mass needed to succeed at the next level. Even with a somewhat undersized frame, Matthews is a power player in the running game and he's ability to create movement off the ball separates him from his peers. In addition to being a very smart player, Matthews has a natural feel for the intricacies of the position.
I'll be honest when I tell you that I'm not quite sure where Davis deserves to be ranked. On one hand, you've got a do-it-all player that is too much for just about anyone at the Class A level that he currently performs on can handle. When the ball is in his hands, he can run away and toy with almost everyone that he competes against and there's no question that he's a very talented guy with a lot of natural football skills. That being said, when I watch him on film I see a whole lot of very good, but not a lot of "wow", even if he is light years better than his competition. At 6-1, 185 pounds, he's a very good athlete and a very good prospect, I'm just not quite seeing him as a great one. Still, he's such a versatile guy that he could potentially play in all three phases and be a guy that can help your team.
Austin, TXLake Travis
Gilbert has been a big play threat on the outside for the Lake Travis offense the last few years. He has great body control and field presence knowing where he is and where he needs to be. His long frame makes him a big target for quarterbacks and while he’s a receiver for Lake Travis is projected as a tight end on the college level. He has the frame to be a college tight end and is definitely advanced as a receiving threat. The question is can he develop as a blocker. At any rate he is a nice option to have as a flex tight end and could develop into an every down traditional tight end.
Katy, TXMorton Ranch
Current LSR Rating: 5.8
Richmond's game is still under development, but there's nothing to mistake about the 6-1, 220-pound linebacker when he's at his finest because he has the ability to create game-changing plays with his combination of size and athleticism. The thing I love the most about Richmond is that he has great feet and it keeps him from getting caught up in traffic and once he identifies the ball carrier, he can cut, explode and get to the ball as well as anyone in the state. While a lot of guys need to be running downhill to achieve success, Richmond moves laterally extremely well and he has the looks of a player that can stay on the field for three downs. The downside to Richmond is that sometimes struggles to identify plays, will sometimes disappear in games and doesn't play to his skill set every week. That being said, the skill set is big time and if he puts all of the pieces together, the sky is the limit.
No position in football outside of quarterback has as much value as the left tackle position and because the great ones are so hard to find, any time you find a guy that possesses the required skill set to be an elite player, he's going to be worth his weight in gold. At 6-5, 265 pounds, Keenan has the goods. The development of his frame needs work, but this is a hard-playing, hard-charging kid that has tremendous feet and there are few players in the state at his position that excel as well he does at the second and third levels of the defense as a blocker. Although his level of competition is a question mark, there's no disputing that he dominates at that level like he should and he's a plus player in both phases of the game. Another thing that I like about his is his versatility. He could end up being a guy that can play all five positions if you asked him. He might need two or three years to develop physically, but he has the talent to be a high quality multi-year starter for a major program.
You like to see a little violence out of your middle linebackers and if you watch Santos for a couple of minutes, it becomes pretty clear that he's a hard-charging, pain-inflicting striker. At 6-2, 245 pounds, Santos might not be a guy that can play a lot on third downs or against pass-heavy teams, but when it comes to defending the run, he can flat out play a mean brand of football between the hash marks. Outside the hash-marks, Santos runs fairly well and he's a pretty solid athlete for a kid with his size, but he's not a guy that I would describe as a plus-athlete and I'm not sure that he'll be a sideline-to-sideline player at the next level. In a day and age when offensive football is all about the spread, Santos is an old school 4-3 middle linebacker prospect.
If there weren't already a couple of superstar running backs in the state of Texas, there would be a lot more discussion about the 5-11, 205-pound Williams, who was a 2,000-yard rusher for one of the state's top 5A powers and ranks as perhaps the best big running back in Texas. Of course, you have to be careful about the big back stuff because it would typically indicate that a player lacks explosiveness and that's not Williams at all. While he can certainly run between the tackles, break tackles and accumulate a ton of yards after contact, this is a kid that possesses a really sneaky burst that allows him to run away from all defenders once he gets a crease. He's not a guy that has great 40 speed, but when he's in pads and in a game, he runs faster than just about everyone when he needs to. I also love the fact that there's not a lot of wasted motion with Williams, as he gets North/South as quickly as anyone in the state. As if all of that wasn't enough, he's more than capable in the screen game. If there's anything to dislike, he'll expose himself to contact a little openly, but that's correctable. Bottom line is that this is a very talented running back that has the chops to play for any program in the country.
Missouri City, TXElkins
When you look at the safety position, there's a lot about the 6-2, 193-pound Thompson to like. The size is an obvious plus, but Thompson's athleticism and ability to cover a lot of ground makes him one of the state's top safety prospects. While you wouldn't automatically call Thompson a violent player on the field, he's a willing tackler that isn't afraid to mix it up and he closes on the ball like a hawk at times. The biggest compliment I can give him deals with his range, as he seems to cover as much or more ground on the field right now than any safety prospect I've seen in Texas. The only question mark you might have with Thompson deals with his ability to cover man-to-man at the next level because he hasn't done a lot of it at the high school level, but, he's a kid that has posted a 4.2 short-shuttle time, a 36-inch vertical and he's tested extremely well in combine events in the last year, so we're talking about a top-shelf athlete with all of the athletic ability required to be a major impact at the collegiate level. Plus, the kid oozes intangibles.
Dallas, TXBishop Dunne
At 6-4, 275 pounds, Norman plays the defensive tackle position like a cobra, as his ability to uncoil/strike out of his stance off the ball makes him an incredibly difficult player to control off the snap without a double-team. As far as quickness off the ball is concerned, Norman rates as high as anyone in the state. He also possesses the raw athleticism to make plays up and down the line of scrimmage, with his playmaking skills at the position ranking very strong nationally as well. Strength is still an issue and Norman will likely need some time to add some upper-body strength, but he seems comfortable playing as a three-technique or straight over the center, with his versatility registering as yet another positive. On top of physical skills, Norman is an extremely bright kid who possesses the kind of make-up you're looking for in a prospect. There have been a lot of private school players from the Metroplex that have fit Norman's physical profile over the years, but he's as good of a player as he is a prospect and that's uncommon. He was a relative unknown prior to his commitment to the Longhorns, but you're not going to find many interior line prospects on the defensive side of the ball that are better.
Current LSR Rating: 5.8
Current LSR Rating: 5.7
Fort Worth, TXDunbar
Current LSR Rating: 5.7
The first thing that stands out about Hawkins is his speed. He has the ability to fly past anyone and the strength to get off the jam. He is not a small receiver and after watching him early in 2011 I think his height and weight may need an update. One thing that was consistent was his straight line blow by speed. He was quick to get behind very fast defenses in East Texas. I would like to see him show better hands. I saw a few drops out of him in some key situations and I would also like to see better route running out of him. He has tools that make him one to watch and that speed is scary fast.
Usually when we're talking about a diminutive running back, elite burst/quickness/speed is the name of the game, but when I look at the 5-7, 170-pound Hansbrough I see a guy that's slippery more than anything else. The more you watch, the more you see a guy that just runs through tackles, finishes plays and makes things happen. He's a guy that gets by on balance and very good feet, along with a solid dose of quickness/burst. He's probably not the home run hitter that you would like to see from a guy with his size, but he can line up as a wide receiver, return kicks and emerge as a nice all-purpose player at the next level
There's nothing flashy about Goines play on the field. At 6-7, 270 pounds, Goines is a strong tackle prospect that stands out because of his size and nastiness on the field. As a player in the running game, Goines loves to throw his body around and he's not looking to make any friends on the field and he doesn't seem to care if he makes any enemies. There are times when his technique gets a little sloppy, but he plays hard and he plays through the whistle, which is the kind of thing that you either have or don't have. It's my favorite part about Goines. With all of that size, he's only a solid athlete with good feet, which means that he might be able to play tackle down the road, but it almost certainly will be on the right side. As Goines continues to develop, he'll need to make sure that he doesn't add bad weight, but he's got such a tremendous frame and an appetite for physicality that he looks like the kind of player that could develop into a star in three or four years.
Lago Vista, TXLago Vista
One word you heard most in regards to Hopkins is “quick”. He is a tree stump and he is quick off the ball. He has a great first step for a big man. Now the knock on him is his size. He is a little on the short side for a defensive tackle and he is a guy that is a 4-3 3-technique. He was a very productive player over his career and definitely showed a lot of athleticism even getting the ball in some short yardage situations. He is not a huge upside/potential guy but he does have the makings of a solid cog in the trenches.
Projecting offensive linemen is always a tricky deal, but there are three things that Okafor possesses that I'm a fan of - size (6-6, 300 pounds), good feet and a nasty disposition. Okafor possesses a few flaws, but those three things alone make him one hell of a line prospect. Although Okafor battles consistency issues, he has naturally quick feet and his ability to slide step out against edge rushers is pretty strong when he's playing at his optimum level. The key to him staying at tackle will come down to his ability to manage his weight and maximize his athletic upside. That's easier said than done, but if he succeeds he's got a chance to play on the right side at tackle. If he is forced inside, his strength as a run blocker and the mean streak that he sometimes flashes will serve him well. The raw tools are there and only a lack of focus and determination to develop them stand in the way. I'm a little higher on Okafor than others, but when he's dialed in he can be a dominant player. He's probably one of the true big ceiling/basement prospects this year.
At 6-2, 228 pounds, Richardson is a little bit of a tweener at defensive end, but he's a plus-athlete that can rush the passer and can make plays up and down the line of scrimmage. His best position might be as an outside linebacker, but he's played so much with his hand on the ground for DeSoto that it's hard to tell how much aptitude he might have for a possible spin-back. If he's not a linebacker, then he's going to be a 4-3 weak-side linebacker and he has a chance to become a quality starting-level player. Although he's a plus-athlete, he's probably a 7.5 or an 8 across the board and I'm not sure if he has one piece of the puzzle that I would describe as elite. Like so many other young guys, he's likely going to need a redshirt season and some time to develop because he needs to learn how to use his hands and a few additional pass rush moves, but if you're only asking him to help out as a situational pass rusher early on, he could help out sooner than I'm projecting. He's just a ways away from being a full-time player at the collegiate level.
South Houston, TXSouth Houston
In a day and age when everyone is looking for defensive backs with size, Marshall brings a legit 6-0, 190-pound frame to the table from the jump and a variety of skills that make him one of the top defensive backs in the state. Marshall is fairly fluid in his backpedal, and he does a good job in coverage, but he's probably most impressive in defending the run, which might mean that safety is his best long-term position and that's not a bad thing at all. He also brings excellent ball skills to the table and if the ball is in his neighborhood, there's a good chance that he'll come away with it. Again, it's his physicality that really stands out the most because of his willingness to strike anyone with the ball. If there's a question mark with Marshall, it's that he's a better player moving forward than backwards and there are some concerns about his ability to handle receivers in man coverage.
It is hard not to like Catalon. He is not the biggest but I won’t be the one to tell him he is small. He is built like a block and moves like a jitterbug. He is quick, fast, and his legs never stop. He can cut full speed and turn and go completely across the field in the drop of a hat. I don’t question his strength or his speed. He has great balance and burst. The vision isn’t bad either. His stocky build and low center of gravity is a plus in my eyes, but at 190 he may be limited in how much he can add.
Current LSR Rating: 5.7
North Richland Hills, TXRichland
At 6-3, 225 pounds, Tshimanga might be the rawest of all the top linebackers in the state, but he might also possess the most upside because the young man hasn't even started to scratch the surface of how good he can be in a sport that he's still learning. A terrific athlete with sideline to sideline ability, Tshimanga gets by mostly on his physical ability at this point, but that's more than enough for him to be a playmaking factor at the high school level where his sheer combination of mass/athleticism allows him to make up for the technical aspect of his game that is lacking. He's going to need some time to develop a little, but he projects as a possible impact college player with the kind of physical tools that the NFL might one day covet. In an era where tweener linebackers rule the day, Tshimanga is no such thing.
Speaking of players that I have ranked too low, the list might begin and end with the fast-rising Fuller. At 6-5, 265 pounds, Fuller is one of the state's top athletes among the offensive line position. Although his pass protection is a work in progress, Fuller has extremely quick feet and he moves extremely well for a big man In fact, you'll be hard-pressed to find a player with his size that does a better job of successfully finishing blocks at the second- or even third-levels if the defense. That skill allows him to thrive as a lead blocker in space in the screen game as well. His strength is still developing, but he's a physical player at the point of attack and has a willingness to throw himself around, even if the mass isn't completely there yet. He's a few years away, but this is a kid that could easily develop into an upper-level starting tackle.
There were few players in the Metroplex that were as exciting as Griffin during his sophomore season in 2009 when he averaged almost 25 yards per catch and scored ten touchdowns for an area power, but a serious decline in numbers last year has created some questions about Griffin's true ranking as a prospect. At his best, Griffin is a sure-handed, physical receiver that brings a strong 6-0, 200-pound frame to the field. Although he's not a guy that is going to make a lot of guys miss, Griffin runs strong routes and when he hits his extra gear, he can cover a lot of ground quickly. More than anything, I'm a fan of his ball skills and strength as a receiver over the middle of the field. If he can restore the magic of his sophomore season on the field in 2011, he'll have a chance to move back up in the rankings.
Let's start with the bloodlines. Overstreet's father (Anthony) was a running back at Baylor, his uncle (David) was one of the state's top prep runner in history at Big Sandy, while his cousin (Stephen Hodge) was a recent standout at TCU. At 6-2, 205 pounds, Overstreet is an athlete that is still developing, but he projects as a possible big-time college safety because of his combination of size, athleticism, smarts and playmaking ability. For most of his prep career, Overstreet has focused his attention on the offensive side of the ball at quarterback there could be some schools that are attracted by his offensive playmaking skills because he's a smart player with a nice arm that can make plays with his feet. The bottom line with this kid is that with his combination of size/athleticism, it's a matter of getting him in the right spot and letting him take off from there. The raw tools are there for a pretty good player.
When I think about Dominic Ramacher I think about versatility, great intelligence, and athleticism. Ramacher was a back-up quarterback and an h-back/tight end for Guyer as a junior and is fairly new to playing defense. Watch his video and it does not look like it. He saw his stock shoot way up shortly after the 2010 season with even with limited video at the position. He did not disappoint on the camp circuit and throughout his senior season. He proved to be a quick study and a versatile big inside linebacker capable of stuffing the run as well as dropping into pass coverage. He is a guy you can count on to work and deliver results. Give this guy more time to become more natural at the position as well as time to fill out and he is a guy who could end up being the best of the linebacker bunch.
Linden, TXLinden Kildare
When coaches all over East Texas tell you that a kid might be the best pound-for-pound player in their area, you take notice. Linwood is a jack-of-all trades kind of guy that just makes a boatload of plays, whether it's as a runner, receiver, defender or as a return guy. As a player coming out of the backfield, Linwood extremely quick and has the ability to make guys fall down in tight quarters. Also, don't discount the idea that he could play corner at the next level because he's shown flashes on that side of the ball as well in his prep career. Outside of his 5-9, 175-pound size, the only true downside to Linwood is that he doesn't have truly upper-echelon speed, which is something you want to see from with his measurements. Still, this is a multi-faceted player who can do a little bit of everything for you and he's comes in a tough as nails east Texas package.
|#63||Alex De La Torre||LB|
In a year when so many of the state's top linebackers are total projects, De La Torre stands out as one of the more complete players at his position in the class. At 6-0, 225 pounds, De La Torre is a true middle linebacker prospect that has the natural instincts at the position that are an absolute must. De La Torre does a really good job of getting off of blocks and filling inside gaps, while also possessing the kind of athleticism to make plays up and down the line of scrimmage. Although he's not an elite athlete, he's probably underrated in that capacity because when he gets his shoulders squared and he's running downhill, he can close on the ball in a hurry. An area that he needs improvement is his strength. As he continues to develop in that department, he'll emerge as a better finisher upon contact. He's probably a few years away from competing for front-line playing time, but he's been a standout player for the last few seasons at one of the state's top programs and he's a good athlete that hasn't reached his ceiling, which means that the best football for a good football player likely hasn't been played yet.
Raw, raw and more raw. That's Richard in a nutshell. At 6-3, 210 pounds, Richard might not yet have a true college position, although he projects as a possible outside linebacker/outside edge rusher. As a junior at Everman, Richard free-lanced quite a bit as a middle linebacker and while he might not always play the must fundamentally sound brand of football, the kid can flat out make a lot of plays and there are times when he'll make a "wow" play that really gives you hope for his upside. A tough, physical striker, Richard needs some time in the weight room so that he can develop his frame, but he has the physical tools that you're looking for. Really and truly, Richard is another guy with four-star upside/raw talent, but he's not quite there yet as a player to rank among the truly elite defensive prospects in the state. But, he's not that far away from that level, either. A little bit of patience, a little bit of time and the right coaching staff/system, and you might really have something with Richard.
Current LSR Rating: 5.7
Hurst, TXL. D. Bell
At 6-4, 317 pounds, Tipoti projects as an interior player and his combination of size and power make him one of the better run blocking big men in the Metroplex. At his best, he can be a mauler in a ground and pound attack, but he's still a little raw and his footwork/technique is still a little rough at times. Tipoti isn't a guy that thrives in space at this point and he'll need to make sure that he manages his weight well over the course of the next few years, but he shows flashes of being a really good prospect that could take off in the right situation.
Orange, TXWest Orange-Stark
With Thomas sitting out this season because he's 20 years old, it's tough tell exactly what kind of prospect we're talking about. At his best, we've got an athletes that has to be in the conversation of best pound-for-pound players in the state. At 5-9, 165 pounds, whatever knock you want to make about his talent is strictly size related. It is what it is. If you focus on his strengths, it's clear we're talking about one of the state's most dynamic and explosive players. If a guy is going to be on the smallish side, he better have elite skills in the way of speed, quickness and athleticism. Check, check and double check. In an age where everyone is trying to speed up their film, Thomas has enough burst that he doesn't need to. We're talking about a kid that can flat out run and he'll undress someone in a phone booth when a chance in the open field presents itself. Offense, defense or special teams - he can contribute in a big way. He has to get stronger if he's going to play on defense, but he's just a football playing sonofagun.
In a year when there are more projectable, toolsy line prospects, there's something about the 6-3, 284-pound Lutui that you can't help but like and it's what separates him from a lot of his peers. With Lutui, there's not any flash, just a ton of get-after-it, butt-kicking power and nastiness that ends up leaving a ton of opponents on the ground. Although he's not as tall as you'd prefer an elite-level line prospect to be, he possesses outstanding quickness, plays with terrific pad level and most important, he might have the best lower-body/leg strength of any line prospect in the state. When gets under a player, his lower body just uproots whatever it wants. He's also athletic enough that he can be used on sweeps, screens and such without issue. Also, I believe his ceiling as an athlete that hasn't been reached. Yes, he's 6-3, but I think he can play any of the three inside positions. He might be flying under the radar, but this kid is the real deal.
Tyler, TXJohn Tyler
When you watch Davis run around the field in that blue and white No.80 jersey, it's hard not to think of former Longhorn and TJT grad Tim Crowder. Still, you have to be careful with those comparisons because Davis is his own player and has his own set of strengths that make him a different kind of defensive end prospect. At 6-3, 225 pounds, Davis isn't an elite-level athlete, but he is a plus-athlete and he brings a really good burst off the edge, along with good closing speed and over athleticism. Better than that, he's a really good player that has proven to be a playmaker up and down the line of scrimmage. More than anything, Davis needs some time in the weight room because he's still a work in progress at stopping the run at the point of attack, but the kid is a big, athletic end that brings a great combination of player/prospect to the table. There's no reason that this kid shouldn't be a multi-year starter as a strong-side defensive end after a few years of seasoning. The only real question is whether he'll lose any of his athleticism/quickness as he bulks up.
Plano, TXPlano West
Current LSR Rating: 5.7
La Marque, TXLa Marque
There's been a number of big-time running backs to come out of the state in the last two recruiting cycles, so it's easy for some guys to get lost in the shuffle when it comes to receiving attention, but do not sleep on Wright at all because his near-2,400 yards and 22 touchdowns as a junior suggest it wouldn't be wise. At 5-10, 185 pounds, there's nothing special about Wright's physical make-up and I don't know that he has the outright "go" that Trey Williams possesses, but there's not much that Wright can't do on the field. He can break down a defender in the open field as a runner with ease, he does a great job as a receiver, he can return kicks and more important than anything else, he seems to treat each carry like it might be his last and he never concedes a yard. He's one of those guys with five-star game and borderline four-star physical tools. The bottom line is that the kid is a flat out player and a guy you offer on talent because there's not much on the field he can't do.
Current LSR Rating: 5.7
There aren't many linemen in the state that flat out pass the eyeball test as much as the 6-7, 305-pound Brantley, who starred at left tackle last season for one Class 3A's top teams. Although it's not out of the realm of possibilities that he could play right tackle for some schools, his best bet down the road is as an interior guy because he probably doesn't have the feet to hold up against elite pass rushers, although he moves surprisingly well along the perimeter in pass protection for a kid moves that is another inch and 10 pounds away from officially being declared a man-mountain. I certainly don't want to completely discount the chance that he could develop into a tackle because he shows flashes of being able to play tackle, but I worry that he's not quite as flexible and doesn't quite have the knee-bend to support a full-time outside position. Perhaps the important thing is that he does have an idea about what he wants to do in pass protection, but I'm going to need to see him against elite defenders before I can completely sign off on that idea. His upper-body strength is still developing, but he does a good job of maintaining proper pad level/balance, and there are times when he gets to the second level to finish a block and you can see his upside on full display. Perhaps he's a few years away from, but if he can get in the right weight program, this is a kid that has a Sunday upside inside of him. I'm telling you, it's going to be about the want-to in the weight room for this kid because the raw tools are there.
Truth be told, I don't know that anyone truly knows just how good Green is because just about everyone believes that his best long-term position is at linebacker, but it's not currently a position that he's had a chance to focus on during his prep career. Still, those that know Green best swear that he's a natural on the defensive side of the ball and that whatever he looks like as an offensive player, just know that he's better on defense. That's what those in Brenham swear by. What we know is that at 6-1, 195 pounds, he has the athleticism and frame to grow into one hell of a nice little outside linebacker. Green is a very good, if not quite elite athlete, but there's no question that when he's been healthy, he's shown flashes of big-time playmaking ability as a player. As a running back (his featured position), Green is a handful for opposing defenses because of his size/athleticism combination. He's shown good vision, balance and instincts, although he might not quite have the pure burst and home run speed that would keep him at the position and maximize his optimal value. The feeling is that once his body fills out and he spends some time committed to the other side of the ball, he'll emerge as a sideline-to-sideline player with serious playmaking skills at the position.
Austin, TXSt. Andrew's Episcopal School
Current LSR Rating: 5.7
Beaumont, TXWest Brook
If you're looking for a kid that could absolutely surge up the list this spring, this might be your kid. At 6-3, 235-pounds, Bluiett flew a little under the radar last season because of the presence of Kansas signee Ben Goodman, but Bluiett had a solid season in his own right and is certainly a player that is on everyone's radar. The biggest question mark with Bluiett is that he's a bit of a tweener, who is probably best-suited to play inside, but it's tough to tell if he can project with more mass because it could very well cause him to lose some of the athleticism that makes him a quality player right now. Bluiett is a rough and tumble kid that will mix it up with the best of them, but he's simply solid off the edge as a pass rusher. I'm curious to see what kind of development he makes this off-season because I'd love to have a better idea of just who he is as he heads into his senior season.
Baytown, TXBaytown Lee
Richardson has been on the radar as a possible big-time recruit since his freshman season at Baytown Lee and his emergence as a sophomore ensured his status as a high-profile 2012 prospect. At around 6-0, 170 pounds, there's nothing that physically separates him from his peers, but the kid flashes some really dynamic ability as a receiver. I don't know that he'll ever win any 40-yard dash contests, but Richardson is extremely quick and allusive… in fact, he might be the slipperiest guy after the catch in the state. He's also a receiver with plus-ball skills that catches the ball well away from his body and seems to have a very good idea for how to use the middle of the field to get open. The fact that he plays for Lee means that he's had a ton of reps in his career and will be ahead of most players at his position on the learning curve once he arrives in college. He looks like a guy that can play the slot at the next level and contribute in a big way as a return man on special teams. Also, I would discount his ability play to play on defense at the next level at all.
Copperas Cove, TXCopperas Cove
In the day and age of the running back rotation, Hamilton is a guy who can carry the load in every situation. Now he is not a flash and dash kind of guy, but do not sleep on his speed. He is a bigger back who can pick up the tough yards as well as runaway. He can get tough yards between the tackles and is comfortable in space. Carrying the ball high and tight is something he needs to work on a bit more. He has attracted interest as both a running back and a linebacker, and if it were up to me I would give him a shot as a running back. He is more than capable of carrying the load and has been a big part of the Copperas Cove offense for a few years now. He’s a lunch pail kind of guy.
Klein, TXKlein Oak
Current LSR Rating: 5.7
There are a lot of top-flight wide receivers available in the state of Texas this year, which might explain why West is flying so low under the radar, but when I watch his film, it's hard to ignore the fact that this is a 6-5, 200-pound athlete with plus-ball skills and receiving ability. Whether he's used on the outside or across the middle of the field, West has a thirst for the football when it's in the air and he's going to go get it. The only thing missing from his game that you'd love to see is that extra gear that would allow him to separate a little more in the open field, but that doesn't mean he can't generate the big play, it just means he's not above-average in the speed department. As much as I like him on offense, I'm not sure I don't love him a little as a defensive end prospect. He's a much more physical player that you'd guess at this stage of his development, but he competes hard and brings some explosive ability when he hits the quarterback. People are sleeping on this kid.
One of the best-kept secrets in the state for my money is Collins. Although he's listed in the database at 6-6, 309 pounds, I'd say he's probably a few inches shy of that mark, which only means that he might be better suited for guard at the next level than tackle, but that's about the only knock on the kid on the field. For a big kid with some mass on his body, Collins is a good athlete with good enough fee that he could likely play tackle on the right side of some schools. His strength as a player right now comes as a power player that plays through the whistle and can flat out blow people off the ball when he keeps good pad level. So, we're talking about an athletic mauler that that is definitely raw, but possesses a nice ceiling as a player. If he watches the weight and puts the time
Haltom City, TX
This is another one of these that isn't exactly rocket science when you start looking at offensive linemen. At 6-6, 260 pounds, Big V might be a three years away from competing for a front-line position at the collegiate level, but with his combination of size, athleticism and footwork, he has a chance to be a top-flight starting tackle and those can be worth their gold. His ability to get out into space and effectively block at the second and third levels is really strong. Although he really needs to commit himself to the weight room in future years so that he can physically fill out his frame, he plays with a little bit of a mean streak and shows some flashes of being a really strong player down the road in the running game. Overall, he's another one of these Neale Tweedie type prospects. Yes, he has the possible frame and feet to play tackle, but we need to see him grow into that kind of player because it doesn't always happen.
Current LSR Rating: 5.7
There's a violence that the 5-11, 190-pound Taylor runs with that sometimes makes it tough for me to take my eyes off of him. Some guys play football like every snap will determine whether they can take another breath and if you’re asking me what jumps out the most about this East Texas playmaker, it's the simple fact that kid can flat out deliver the goods on the football field. Is he an out of this world athlete? Not really, and I'm not sure that you can't find 500 kids in the state that fit his physical profile, but he's got a little something extra that separates him from the pack. I'm not convinced that defense isn't where he should be playing. He's one of those four star players in a three-star package.
Current LSR Rating: 5.7
As far as downhill safeties are concerned, Randolph might be the best in the state. At 6-4, 190 pounds, the kid is a long, lean, but mean field roamer who is extremely active and makes a lot of plays. His biggest issue moving forward is that he's a much better player moving forward than he is moving backwards and while he has some cover ability, he's not the kind of quick-twitch, fluid hips guy you're looking for in the secondary. He certainly could be a good college safety, but his highest ceiling is almost certainly as a college linebacker and once he throws some weight on his frame, he's got a chance to be the best linebacker in the class because he locates and gets to the ball really, really well. Hell, I could potentially see him as a guy you can use as a pass rusher off the edge, but he's a long way from there. I really hope this kid is patient and understands that his body hasn't even started to truly develop like it will in a college weight program. He's a unique guy.
The first thing that jumped out about Hines for me on film is that he's a little bit of a brawler in pads. At 6-3, 305 pounds, Hines doesn't have the quickest feet and isn't an elite athlete, but will flat out knock someone on their ass on the football field, which is kind of what you're looking for in an offensive lineman. Much better suited to play guard than tackle, Hines is a plus-player in the running game, although like a lot of big kids with long arms, the upper body strength is still developing. Although he doesn't always get a great jump off the ball, he does a good job of keeping good pad level and when he gets his hands on opposing defenders, he usually beats his opponent. Although he's not a guy I would describe as a plus-athlete at the offensive line position, he moves fairly well for a big guy and there are times when he does an effective job on counters and other runs that call for him to move in space and get to the second level. His ability to control his conditioning will be a make or break part of his development.
The book on Hines reads like this: solid athlete with solid size(5-11, 180) and he does a lot of solid things on the field, but I'm not sure that in the games that I ever watched Hines play, he ever jumped out as a big-time, can't-miss player. One of the things you definitely like is that he has some solid ball skills. On the other hand, for a kid that is listed in the database at 6-1, 190 pounds, there are times when he doesn't look like he has much interest in tackling. There's just a lack of urgency in his game that I think he has to improve. For instance, you just can't be a guy that wide receivers can block and he's that kind of guy right now. The physical tools are there, as are flashes of potential, but there's a lot of development that still needs to take place.
Current LSR Rating: 5.7
Dallas, TXDallas Roosevelt
Current LSR Rating: 5.7
San Antonio, TXSam Houston
Current LSR Rating: 5.6
The Woodlands, TXThe Woodlands
Current LSR Rating: 5.6
Current LSR Rating: 5.6
Abilene, TXAbilene Cooper
Current LSR Rating: 5.6
Spring, TXKlein Oak
If you're looking for a jack-of-all-trades kind of guy that brings a solid size/speed package to the table and can potentially play on either side of the ball at the next level, Baratti might be your guy. At 6-1, 195 pounds, Baratti is a pretty damn solid little high school quarterback that almost looks like a mini-Taylor Martinez at the position, although he doesn't quite have that extra gear that the Nebraska quarterback possesses. That being said, he's got good speed/athleticism and he can break guys down in space when the ball is in his hands. At the end of the day, I'm not so sure that he's not a guy whose true ceiling as a player exists on the other side of the ball at linebacker. If he stays on offense, he could end up being a very nice all-purpose threat in the mold of a Ryan Swope, but if a school can convince him to take a look at the other side of the ball, I think he might have a little more upside. Bottom line? He's an extremely bright, versatile kid with strong measurables and he probably doesn't have a lot of downside. At worst, he'll be a pretty damn solid college football player somewhere on the field.
If you need proof of Gilbert's ability as a player, simply take out the film of last year's state championship game against Carthage because he did everything but don a cape in the first half of that game. The younger brother of former Huntsville star Justin Gilbert, Sherman is a one-cut runner that has a great burst out of his cuts and when he gets moving North/South, he can cover a lot of ground very quickly. Yes, he's a little raw at this point, but he's a guy that could project on either side of the ball and you get the feeling that he's just now starting to come into his own a little as a player.
Sulphur Springs, TXSulphur Springs
Daniels isn't going to be everyone's cup of tea because he's one of those mighty mites that plays really big on the field, but is never going to pass anyone's eyeball test. At 5-7, 150 pounds, you're getting a kid that is a bottle rocket with the ball in his hands and in the open field. As a junior, Daniels was one of the best players in East Texas, averaging 10 yards per touch on offense and exhibiting game-breaking skills as a runner, receiver and return guy. This is a kid that will flat out undress a defender in space and his ability to make guys miss in a phone booth is uncanny. I'm telling you that when this kid walks off the bus he looks like the student manager, but when the pads come on, few play bigger than this little guy.
Galena Park, TXGalena Park
If you want to start talking about players that might be slightly undervalued in the current rankings, a case can certainly be made for the 6-3, 210-pound Taylor. Although he's a classic tweener-type, there's no question that he can flat out play some football and a lot of what he does on the field right now is just him going out there and making plays. There doesn't seem to be a lot of refinement to his game, which certainly excited you when you consider his ceiling as a player. There's a lot of "bull in a china closet" with the kid, but he's a good athlete that develop into an edge-player in pass-rush situations. You absolutely have to love the fact that Taylor plays with a high motor doesn't stay blocked. The knock on Taylor is that he is a tweener without an elite physical tool. If he had an elite first-step or flat-out raw quickness, you might come up with a Von Miller-type upside on his projection, but I don't see that kind of "wow" athleticism. That's not to say he's not a good athlete because he most certainly is, but if you're going to be an undersized end/pass rusher, you better be really, really quick. If not, and the rest of the skill set is someone limited, then that player is going to be marginalized. I'm kind of on the fence with where I think Taylor sits on that curve. He's probably somewhere in the middle, which is why I have him in the bottom 50 and not the top 50.
Current LSR Rating: 5.6
Port Arthur, TXPort Arthur Memorial
Current LSR Rating: 5.6