Ricky Seals-Jones impressed the SB Nation recruiting team at The Opening (photo by the author).
Bellcow Jake Raulerson chose the Dream Team 2013 moniker for the Longhorn recruiting class because the limited spots meant Texas could only take elite players. Of all the prospects in the class, none are as elite as Sealy wide receiver Ricky Seals-Jones, which makes him absolutely vital -- as good as the current commits are, without RSJ, it just doesn't feel like a Dream Team.
Such was my belief heading out to The Opening and I left feeling the same way. It's hard to overstate just how impressive Seals-Jones is physically. Standing out among 150 of the top prospects in the country is difficult, especially with the likes of Indiana linebacker Jaylon Smith and Alabama tight end commit OJ Howard, but RSJ was right there with his wide shoulders and chiseled arms, a result, said his father Chester, of working out religiously every day, despite his basketball commitments.
Looking good isn't much of the battle in the end, though. To that end, Seals-Jones impressed Scipio Tex as a pass-catcher:
He has huge hands that lock the ball in a vise, long arms, catches reliably on routine throws, high points jump balls like a power forward, is competitive, and uses a long, deceptive stride to lull DBs into constant miscalculation. You get the Vince Young "Is he running hard?" vibe from him and then you realize that's what makes him elite. He's under complete control at his top end, while most guys are careening around. He was a consistent deep threat, a red zone threat, and operated OK within and under the zone, even catching a little five yard flip and turning it into a twenty yard gain on a nice outside cut.
Agreed. Most impressive was his ability to go up and get the football, as evidenced by the photo taken by Bud Elliott after the jump. Even Houston-area product Deon Hollins, Jr. mentioned how good RSJ is in the air, citing his wide catching radius, prompting me to tell Inside Texas' Eric Nahlin that Hollins could be a recruiting analyst when he's done with football. It's true, and the Sealy product could have had even more catches like that had his quarterback Christian Hackenburg been able to find him more often and put the football where only he could go up and get it, something of a struggle for the Penn State commit during the event.
While Scipio later questions how RSJ will beat press coverage from really good college cornerbacks -- a question that obviously can't be answered until he actually gets to college -- the high school jack-of-all-trades was perfectly happy getting physical with any defensive back lined up in front of him.
In fact, he had some high-profile battles with Tennessee cornerback Jalen Ramsey, who looks as good for his position as Seals-Jones does for his. While Ramsey certainly won a few of his battles, Seals-Jones displayed a club move worthy of a defensive end on one play to create separation. At other times, RSJ looked like a modern-day Michael Irvin with his physicality and willingness to simply shed defenders. Expect him to do so in college until he starts getting offensive pass interference penalties.
It remains to be seen where his body takes him in college and he certainly looks like a guy who could stack muscle on muscle and reach 250 pounds, but he's also plenty ready to play wide receiver in college right now and may be a guy that Bennie Wylie would opt to keep near his current weight.
If there were still lingering questions about whether Seals-Jones can play wide receiver in college, both Scipio Tex and I left the event believing without a doubt that he can. As did a noted NFL talent evaluator who laughed off any notions about his 40 time mattering when the comparison to Julio Jones came up and I opined that Jones may be faster. RSJ impressed a lot of people.
He's not a tight end (right now) and he's not a defensive end (sure, he could be, but why?). Both are dirty words in his recruitment right now. Besides that, if there's one key factor at this point, it could be the offense that he plays in, as he's spoken in the past about liking the spread offense at Texas A&M.
I wanted to ask him about what the Texas coaches told him on his last visit to assuage those concerns, but my interview was cut short, as his Alpha Speed time had just been eliminated and he was called away. Not the best time, anyway, but, in general, I don't think he revealed much about his recruitment over the weekend, though Scipio and Bud Elliott spoke at length with his father, a transcript of which should be available in the coming days.
The best thing for the Longhorns could be Bryan Harsin opening up the offense at times this fall and strong quarterback play from David Ash. Conversely, if the Aggies struggle at quarterback, quite possible since Jameill Showers hasn't been able to separate much from the recently-arrested Johnny Manziel, who put little on film in high school to convince me that he can be effective as a pocket passer, then the appeal there may diminish. As for LSU, the Tigers hardly run an offense that showcases wide receivers, so there's no advantage there for The Hat.
Seals-Jones did say that he plans on visiting LSU and even mentioned UCLA to me, though I'm not aware of him talking about a possible trip out to Westwood with anyone else.
One factor that Seals-Jones said wouldn't play a large role is his relationship with the Texas recruits, even though he knows both Tyrone Swoopes and A'from basketball and has had a chance to bond with other commits at the Texas Junior Day, the summer camp, the Rivals Five-Star Challenge, and at The Opening.
In the end, if his mother wants him close, it could come down to the Aggies and the Longhorns. Let's just hope he sides with the good guys.