It can be easy for a talented high school athlete to escape the notice of college recruiters when he plays for a school in a rural area far from the metropolitan recruiting epicenters, or when he comes from a school not known for producing athletic talent, or when he's a few pounds or inches shy of the prototype dimensions coaches want to see in their recruits. It's considerably more difficult for a talented athlete to stay hidden when he lives in one of the nation's 20 largest cities and plays for a school that has had numerous football players sign with Division I colleges in recent years. But Kameron LeCoq has managed just such a feat.
LeCoq - whose last name is pronounced "Le'Qua" - attends Fort Worth's Dunbar High School, where he is a standout at defensive end. Fort Worth has for years been known more as a basketball hotbed than a football city, and that sport has been particularly dominant at Dunbar. Robert Hughes coached Dunbar's boys basketball team from 1973 to 2005, leading the Wildcats to two state titles and retiring as the nation's all-time winningest high school boys basketball coach. Though Dunbar's reputation in athletics has indisputably been based on its basketball success, their football program is hardly chopped liver. A win this week would clinch the school's 11th playoff berth in the 15 seasons they've spent in Class 4A after dropping from 5A in the University Interscholastic League's 1998 realignment.
But in Fort Worth, success in football is relative. The Fort Worth ISD schools in class 4A were grouped into one 10-team district for much of the last decade, and the teams that made the playoffs out of it usually made a quick and lopsided first round exit at the hands of whatever suburban power they were matched up with. Going back to the 2000 season, the Fort Worth schools of Class 4A have combined for six playoff wins, and the 2000 O.D. Wyatt squad was the last of the group to advance beyond the 2nd round. Dunbar's last playoff win in football came in 2001, when this year's senior class was in 1st grade.
Though Dunbar's football program hasn't piled up playoff hardware this century, it hasn't lacked for talent, and in the past 10 years it has had players sign with Texas, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Wisconsin, North Carolina, and Houston, among other schools. This year's team has its share of future Division I signees as well. Junior athlete Stepfawn Hughes (younger brother of former Texas and current Missouri wide receiver Darius White) is ranked as the 40th best 2014 prospect in Texas by 247Sports, and he's #92 on the LSR Top 100 for 2014. He won't lack for offers, and neither, it appears, will sophomore running back Taylor Martin, who leads district 6-4A with 1,496 rushing yards (over 600 yards ahead of the 2nd place runner) and 20 touchdowns. But getting comparatively little attention is the aforementioned Kameron LeCoq.
LeCoq definitely passes the eyeball test, standing 6'3" and 220 lbs. Dunbar head coach Todd Lawson reports the following strength figures for him: 260 on bench press, 465 on squat, a 540 dead lift, and a 285 power clean. He runs a 4.9 forty, which is hardly mind-blowing but certainly not slow, and he looks faster than a 4.9 guy on film. When I first saw his junior year highlights a few months ago, I wrote in my notes something to the effect of "poor man's Torrodney Prevot". He gets out of his stance and gets after the ball with impressive quickness. Watching LeCoq on film he appears to have a good feel for the defensive end position and its responsibilities. He defends zone read plays especially well, not giving up the edge by crashing down on the running back seeking a highlight reel hit - as defensive ends of all ages are wont to do - but holding his position, diagnosing the play, and often making the tackle after a short gain.
He's just as smart in the classroom. Coach Lawson calls him a "very hard working and intelligent young man" who "embodies the true student-athlete makeup." LeCoq holds a 3.66 grade point average, and through Dunbar's first eight games he has compiled 42 tackles (6 for loss) and 2 sacks.
Defensive ends will always impress on film if they have an unstoppable first step (see: Torrodney Prevot), the size of a defensive tackle (see: Gaius Vaenuku), tremendous all-around athleticism (see: Tyus Bowser), or a lean, athletic frame perfect for adding muscle once in a college strength and conditioning program (see: Daeshon Hall). Kameron LeCoq doesn't impress with elite speed or man strength, but he plays solid assignment football, is good in ball pursuit, tackles well (his senior highlights even show him making a few tackles in kickoff coverage), and has the type of frame that should allow him to get a lot stronger in college.
Coach Lawson highlights in particular LeCoq's play earlier this season against Birdville and their 6'5" 300 lb. left tackle Joas Aguilar, who is committed to Texas A&M. Aguilar is an absolute mauler in the run game, but Lawson reports that LeCoq played him "straight up" and "gave him all he could handle". LeCoq's Hudl page has a video with a few clips from the Birdville game, and though none of them - unfortunately - show him going up against Aguilar (who blocks a linebacker instead on most of the plays), he does have an impressive play at the 1:20 mark where he chases down 2014 RB prospect Xavier Turner (who I wrote about in August) and tackles him after a short gain before he can get free along the sideline.
Kameron LeCoq, like so many of our previous Unheralded players, does not have a profile page on Rivals, 247Sports, Scout, or ESPN. He deserves to be better known than he is, and how he has gone so unnoticed while playing in Fort Worth is a mystery. He'll be playing college ball somewhere next year. He may not be suiting up for a FBS school, but whichever program signs him will be getting a good one.
See also: Kameron LeCoq's junior highlights
Fort Worth Dunbar's remaining schedule:
November 2 - vs. Fort Worth Eastern Hills
November 9 - at Saginaw
Previous Unheralded 2013 Player of the Week picks:
Week Eight - Isaiah Galvan, DT (Edinburg)
Week Seven - no selection, this column took a bye week
Week Six - Xavier McElhannon, RB (San Antonio Johnson)
Week Five - Charleston White, WR (Amarillo Palo Duro)
Week Four - Gennard Johnson, DT (Waxahachie)
Week Three - Devante Pullum, Athlete (Little Elm)
Week Two - Tyrel Stokes, DB (Killeen Harker Heights)
Week One - Derick Bates, WR (Belton)
Week Zero - Collin Bowen, QB (Canyon Randall)