For pigskin geeks, the Texas high school state 7-on-7 tournament is another sign that weekends will once again soon be filled with football.
Like every year, the 2013 state tournament – which kicks off Thursday and goes through Saturday – will feature some of the top high school players (linemen excluded) in Texas. 128 teams will descend upon Southwest Williamson County Regional Park in Leander for the three-day event, and among the hundreds of student-athletes is a handful the Texas Longhorns are actively recruiting.
Three players participating this weekend are already committed to Texas’ 2014 class – linebacker Otaro Alaka (Houston Cy Falls) and wide receivers Lorenzo Joe (Abilene Cooper) and Dorian Leonard (Longview). Alaka is the highest rated of the trio, but look for Joe – who is playing quarterback for Cooper – to potentially have the biggest impact in the offense-friendly competition.
The three biggest uncommitted 2014 prospects on hand this weekend are all defensive backs.
Carrolton Hebron’s Jamal Adams is the No. 5 recruit in the state, according to 247Sports composite rankings, and is arguably the most coveted in-state prospect still on the board for the Longhorns.
Edwin Freeman, an outside linebacker at Arlington Bowie who is likely to play safety in college, is ranked No. 19 in Texas and is believed to favor the Longhorns over TCU and LSU, though no decision has been made.
The other is Houston Lamar’s John Bonney. The 6-foot, 182-pound safety excelled at The Opening in Oregon last weekend which could give him a bump from his current position as the state’s 32nd overall prospect in the coming weeks.
He was named to 247Sports’ “The Opening Dream Team” by national recruiting analyst Barton Simmons after going toe to toe with some of the country’s top wide receivers.
“Another serious ‘stock up’ contender, Bonney has very long arms, covers a lot of ground and was able to carry wide receivers vertically and discourage big plays from the quarterback. When tested, he showed good ball-tracking awareness and always seemed to be in position to make a play. “
As far as Texas is concerned, the next group of players to watch is entering their junior or sophomore seasons.
In the 2015 class – the juniors – there are two big names to know outside of Lufkin wide receiver Keke Coutee, the lone 2015 Texas pledge in the field.
Soso Jamabo of Plano West is currently the top rated running back in the country and the No. 24 player overall by 247Sports, the only service with a national 2015 ranking so far.
Also look out for Mesquite Poteet linebacker Malik Jefferson. The four-star defender is No. 7 in Texas in 2015 and No. 47 overall in the country, according to 247Sports.
Others the Longhorns have shown interest in are Cedar Hill receiver Demarkus Lodge, Whitehouse safety Justin Dunning, quarterbacks Chason Virgil (West Mesquite) and Jarrett Stidham (Stephenville), as well as Gilmer cornerback Kris Boyd, who shined at UT’s June 9 camp.
Among the sophomores, Manvel High has a duo in receiver Reggie Hemphill and safety Deontay Anderson that has Texas’ eye.
Almost all of the recruits the Longhorns are interested in will start on Friday when the Division I pool play begins. Stephenville’s Stidham and Gilmer’s Boyd are the two Division II players currently receiving the most attention from the Longhorns. They’ll both play in Thursday afternoon‘s Division II pool play.
Don’t expect the Texas coaching staff to put a ton of stock in how these players perform this weekend in Leander. However, the tournament will give these players an opportunity to showcase their ability against some of the best high school talent in a state known for its ability to produce elite college recruits.
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