I made the trip up to the Metroplex on Saturday for a talent-filled Colleyville Heritage 7-on-7 SQT, mostly because I wanted to see 2013 Texas commit Jake Oliver and possible 2014 quarterback target Jerrod Heard go head-to-head, while several 2014 defensive backs who were not solidly on my radar performed well enough to draw my attention.
The battle between Jesuit and Oliver and Guyer and Heard lived up to my considerable expectations with a fantastic finish:
The highlight of the day was probably the match-up between Dallas Jesuit and Denton Guyer during pool play. It was a close affair that featured big plays from both of the offenses. It also came down to the wire, as a late interception from 2014 Guyer quarterback Jerrod Heard killed an opportunity for the Wildcats and Jesuit eventually took advantage when 2013 Texas commit Jake Oliver elevated in the endzone for a touchdown that allowed a two-point conversion for the final 41-40 margin. Drama worthy of the state tournament, even if neither team made it out of pool play.
More important than the result, however, were the takeaways from both prospects:
2013 Dallas Jesuit wide receiver Jake Oliver -- The 6-4, 200-pound Texas commit hasn't grown noticeably stronger in the last year, but did show off the same skillset that made him a standout at last summer's state tournament. There will always be concerns about his speed until he can prove that he can separate in college, but in high school, he uses the speed that he does have effectively, as he changes speeds to set up defensive backs and runs crisp, clean routes to create the necessary separation of his breaks.
When the ball goes get in his vicinity, Oliver makes the play the vast majority of the time. He has sure hands, catches the ball away from his body inside his frame and can also extend outside of his frame. In addition, the leaping ability he used on the game-winning touchdown catch against Guyer allows him to make plays over smaller defensive backs, while his body control almost allowed him to bring in an extremely difficult pass along the sideline in the endzone, even though he was ruled out of bounds.
As mentioned, it's impossible to know whether Oliver will be able to separate in college as well as he does in high school, but I continue to believe that he will be a solid contributor with a high floor, even if his ceiling isn't as high as the other two wide receiver prospects in the 2013 Texas class.
2014 Denton Guyer quarterback Jerrod Heard -- In strong contention for the title of top quarterback in the state for his class, Heard started as a sophomore at Guyer and looked in full command on the offense -- a maturity beyond his years. Still at a slight 6-3, the true dual threat will have to add some muscle frame to his frame to survive the pounding he will take in college football.
As a quarterback, Heard has good mechanics except for his elbow, which he would be well served to keep higher while in the pocket to further shorten what is already a pretty compact throwing motion. He has plenty of arm strength, as evidenced on multiple throws well across the field.
At times, he can spin the football with the best of them, but the ball did flutter on him when throwing downfield, though it didn't seem to impact his accuracy, which was pinpoint the great majority of the time. Heard isn't a full-fledged gunslinger in the mold of a Jay Cutler or Brett Favre, but he did force the ball into small windows on several plays against Jesuit, one of which led to that late interception -- it's possible that maturing in terms of working through his reads could solve that issue.
With offers from LSU, Arizona State, and Nebraska, Heard is already a hot prospect on the recruiting trail. After camping at Oklahoma on Sunday, Heard said that he plans on visiting Austin for the three-day camp this week and also wants to take a summer unofficial visit to Baton Rouge. Camps at Texas A&M, Baylor, and TCU are also on the schedule.
Heard still has some room to grow as a quarterback, but he was impressive for a player yet to start his junior year in high school. His offer list already confirms the latter assessment and I left believing that Heard will be the quarterback Texas takes. Co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin made the trip up to Denton to take in Heard's spring game and judging by how Heard lit up when talking about Texas -- mentioning that his family is full of Longhorn fans -- it seems like there is a strong chance that he could end his recruitment in favor of his childhood favorite.
Besides Heard, there two defensive back prospects there who could end up receiving offers from the 'Horns:
2014 Arlington Bowie safety Edwin Freeman -- One of the rare prospects who likes to give a lower than actual weight, the 6-1, 205-pounder is already a big safety with months to go before his junior season begins. It's possible that he ends up at linebacker with his solid build and long arms -- he could play at 230 pounds in college. Despite his size, he moves like a smaller player, which could help his case if he does decide that he wants to stay at safety. Against Mansfield Summit, he did give up a long touchdown catch when he got caught underneath the receiver, but made up for it with an interception in the corner of the endzone that saved another touchdown.
Freeman like Texas and currently has them among his favorites, along with Texas A&M. Whether the coaches see him as a safety or a linebacker could impact whether or not he eventually receives an offer in a loaded defensive back class.
2014 Lewisville Hebron safety Jamal Adams -- Already considered a four-star prospect and Top 100 player nationally by 247Sports, Adams has ideal bloodlines as the son of former New York Giants running back George Adams. He looked just over 5-10 and, like Freeman, has long arms and wide shoulders.
While he wasn't as vocal as his father, who coaches the Hebron 7-on-7 squad, he did communicate well with his teammates and showed off his closing speed on several plays, breaking up a pass on one and intercepting another by elevating near the sideline. The ability to plant and explode with a first step is crucial for any defensive back and Adams did it multiple times against Arlington Martin.
And while 7-on-7 doesn't allow tackling, Adams looked like the type of player capable of making receivers pay for catching the ball over the middle of the field, as he had to show evident restraint not to decapitate a receiver on such a play that would have ended poorly for the Martin pass-catcher had both had pads on.
Adams was among the few 2014 prospects at the Sunday Texas camp and the Longhorns reportedly made up some ground with the Lewisville star. Given the depth aforementioned depth at defensive back (there are at least 25 high-level prospects in the state in the class), it's too early to handicap whether Adams is near the top of the Texas board, but after watching him in person, it would be surprising if he's not at least under strong consideration.