While waiting to interview 2013 Plano Prestonwood Christian tight end Christian Morgan last night following his commitment to Florida State, I was surprised to see none other than Jake Raulerson, the so-called Bellcow of the 2013 Texas class, in attendance.
Of course, it shouldn't have been that surprising -- after all, Raulerson is known for supporting his teammates, fellow members of his recruiting class, and the Celina track team when I interviewed him at the state meet. Plus, he and Morgan go quite a ways back, to eighth grade, in fact, when they met at an NUC combine.
They've also met on the football field the last two seasons when Prestonwood faced off against Celina, when a late Raulerson interception set the stage last season for freshman quarterback Nathan Elliott to win his first high school start in dramatic fashion:
Trailing, 33-21 with 7:14 left in the fourth quarter, the Bobcats found themselves in position to claim the lead with 2:19 left after Jake Raulerson picked off a screen pass by Prestonwood senior Parker Ash, giving Celina the ball at its own 48-yard line. Nickel-and-diming their way down the field behind the legs of Elliott and Jamarick Simmons, a 14-yard quarterback keeper by the former was enough to break down the Lions' defense for the go-ahead score.
It's a loss that still rankles Morgan -- "We had them beat," he said.
If the two have it their way, though, they'll met again in college. That is, if Florida State ends up moving to the Big 12, something like Raulerson would like to see so they can resume their rivalry.
So far, the friendship/rivalry has been a relationship that has helped both on and off the field, according to Morgan.
"It's been awesome," he said moments after giving his verbal commitment to the Seminoles. "Jake and I are good buddies and we always compete against each other, we have a little rivalry going on. We've been friends before football and we'll be friends after football. He's a great guy and Texas is definitely getting a good one."
With both players playing on both sides of the ball for their respective teams, they've repeatedly gone against each other in the trenches on offense and defense. Even for a prospect the caliber of Raulerson, blocking Morgan isn't an easy task.
"It's difficult," said the kid known as Maulerson. "He's one of the better defensive ends I've gone against. Setting that edge is not easy. We've had our share of battles and I wish that I was playing him this year."
A contest that would have necessitated another drive up to the North Dallas area, I said.
For his part, when asked if it's more difficult to block Raulerson or be blocked by him, the newest Seminole said that it's more difficult to be blocked by Raulerson, holding true to the belief held by many that Maulerson's best collegiate position is along the offensive line.
I didn't ask the Celina star about his current weight, in part because I'll have a chance to catch up with him at The Opening in a little over a week, but he did look like he's added a little bit of bulk in the two months that have passed since the state track meet.
Raulerson also shared a few brief thoughts on his experience at the Rivals Challenge last weekend.
"It was a lot of fun," said the uber-competitive Raulerson. "I was just being my competitive self and getting through the drills. I had my fair share of losses and my fair share of wins. It was a good weekend overall. I didn't perform as well as I wanted to, but it was a good camp overall."
Of course, I had to ask Raulerson about recent decommit Ricky Seals-Jones. Despite being the appointed leader and head recruiter of the prospects now known as Dream Team 2013, the moniker that Raulerson created, he continues to strike the delicate balance between selling the virtues of Texas and letting his fellow recruits make their own decisions.
"I mean, we didn't talk really about recruiting. I didn't want to bug him too much. We had fun. We talked a lot. He was fooling around most of the time. He, Tyrone, and I were talking, along with the other Texas recruits, so it was a lot of fun."
Raulerson also shared his thoughts on quarterback commit Tyrone Swoopes.
"I didn't see him the first part of camp, but the second part of camp, he was great. He was tremendous the last couple of 7on7 games, so he did good."
Included in those last several games were several long touchdowns passes to Ricky Seals-Jones, who, like Swoopes, struggled at the start of the Rivals Challenge before surging late. It's been a trend for Swoopes throughout the spring and summer and one that would be positive to reverse, although it's better for him to improve as he acclimates.
The upcoming Elite 11 camp will provide a major opportunity for Swoopes to improve, as will The Opening, when I'll get a chance to see him throw in person for the first time.