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Texas Recruiting: Early Season Highlights

With the high school football season now at roughly the halfway point, some early highlights videos are popping up on YouTube of Texas commits and a big-time Texas target. Here's a look:

Johnathan Gray, 2012 Aledo running back

Johnathan Gray (early senior highlights) (via 247SportsStudio)

The Euclidian Terrorist. That's the Barking Carnival nickname for Johnathan Gray with the way that he blows up angles. Clearly he's faster than his opponents believe with some deceptive speed, but the most impressive aspect of his game -- besides basically all of it -- is that he finishes runs in the end zone. This isn't a kid who gets tackled on the five yardline. Worried about your redzone offense? The Euclidian Terrorist scores from outside the red zone.

Able to anticipate plays before they develop, Gray has an outstanding combination of patience, burst, body lean, and quick feet. If a mad football scientist designed a running back in a laboratory, the running back would come out looking a lot like Johnathan Gray.

Now the state's all-time touchdown and points scored leader, Gray continues his trajectory towards a phenomenal college career at Texas. 

Now let me wipe up this puddle of drool on my keyboard and move on to some other Texas commits and a major Longhorn target...

Thomas Johnson, Dallas Skyline wide receiver

Thomas Johnson (early senior highlights) (via 247SportsStudio)

After essentially losing his junior season to an ankle injury -- and his available highlights showing little as the ankle injury sapped his signature explosiveness -- it's heartening for a Texas fan and longtime Johnson admirer to see that burst back.

Used often on jet sweeps in the Skyline offense, Johnson has impressive vision and a feel for cutting off his blockers. His ability to stick his foot in the ground and accelerate upside is reminiscent of the best zone running backs -- Harsin will undoubtedly feature him prominently on those plays when he reaches the 40 Acres.

 As he showed during his time at The Oakridge School in Arlington before transferring to Skyline, Johnson reaches top speed in several steps and also has the lateral quickness to make defenders miss in space or hop cut to take the corner. In many ways, he's the protoypical slot receiver.

Since he is still transitioning to the receiver position after his missed time and having played quarterback as a sophomore, Johnson may not be as advanced a route runner as some other players his age, but it's clear from his highlights that he could step onto campus and immediately fill a role similar to Marquise Goodwin on screens and jet sweeps.

Peter Jinkens, 2012 Dallas Skyline linebacker

Peter Jinkens (early senior highlights) (via 247SportsStudio)

Johnson's partner in crime at the Metroplex powerhouse had a fantastic summer that built a strong case that he's the most talented of the three 2012 Texas linebacker commits -- he certainly has the most upside.

Now spending more time at linebacker after spending most of his junior season at running back, Jinkens still receives some carries, mostly in the short yardage. On the first play of his highlight, notice him using his physicality to lower his shoulder into the defender before going out of bounds -- Jinkens plays at full speed and with a barely controlled recklessness.

Perhaps the fastest linebacker in the state, Jinkens closes on the football with alacrity, making him a perfect candidate to play the strongside linebacker position for Manny Diaz, as Jinkens compares favorably to Demarco Cobbs, as both have the speed of a safety and can run with tight ends and running backs, as well as some slot receivers.

It's rather unusual to have a serious concern raised from a highlight video -- unless the guy just can't run -- but watching Jinkens, his ability to re-direct in space to make tackles appears sub-par for the role he will play at Texas. In pursuit, Jinkens can quickly and easily change direction, but his tackling radius and ability to break down right before the tackle needs work. 

Derrick Griffin, 2103 Rosenberg Terry athlete

Derrick Griffin (early junior highlights) (via 247SportsStudio)

For a guy who looked stiff at times in workouts, Griffin looks fluid and athletic in these highlights. He gets off the ball well and shows of his basketball ability by high-pointing the football consistently and using his big body to great effect both in screening defenders and as a blocker.

His size at 6-7 makes him a legitimate basketball prospect, though there are increasing questions about his actual basketball skills besides his leaping ability. If he grows, he's probably a basketball prospect regardless, but there are flashes of ability that could make him a top tight end prospect if he can gain the weight.