The "Unheralded 2013 Player of the Week" series has been inactive since week nine, though I had hoped to write a post each week leading up to the end of the high school football season. Various circumstances interrupted its continuation after week nine, and in the month or so that has passed since the state championship games I've been a bit busy. I realize that posting this now (the week before National Signing Day) is almost the equivalent of turning in a term paper one semester late, but I really liked all of these players and went through the trouble to contact their coaches (as far back as November in some cases) to ask about them and I didn't want to have the series end after nine installments without a satisfactory conclusion (which would make it the BON equivalent of the first season of The Killing). The following seven unheralded seniors are all talented and worthy of their own feature but will be grouped together here for the sake of putting a bow on this series. If you like, you may consider them my picks for weeks 10-16.
Antoine Arboleda (Rosenberg Terry) - Quarterback, 6-3 191 pounds
As a junior in 2011, Arboleda completed 65% of his passes for 1,761 yards, 27 touchdowns, and only 4 interceptions, and led his team to within a point of a district championship (Rosenberg Terry lost in overtime to an Angleton team that won its first 13 games before falling in the 4th round of the playoffs). For his efforts, he was voted the Offensive MVP of district 23-4A and got his name onto a number of "players to watch" lists going into the summer. He began the 2012 season as a third-year starter at QB and had a chance to break several school passing records, but unfortunately, he broke his collarbone instead. He suffered the injury in the 1st quarter of Terry's first game and didn't play again until the final week of the regular season.
Suffering that injury and having to effectively sit out nine games in his senior season basically stopped what recruiting momentum Arboleda had established. His head coach told me in November that Arboleda had yet to receive a scholarship offer from a school at any level. Whether or not he has since then, I don't know. It would be a shame if the injury ended up keeping him from getting a scholarship and a chance to play QB somewhere at the next level. At 6'3" he's a tall QB with good running skills who - despite not having the most picture-perfect throwing motion - generally puts the ball where he wants to and appears to have a good feel for the game. In his high school years he has quarterbacked offenses that ran the spread and later the split-back veer, and that experience with varied sets should help him find a home with a college football program that recognizes his versatility and upside as a quarterback.
Joshawa West 5-11 175 pounds; Richard Cooper 5-10 180 pounds (Angleton) - Running Backs
Joshawa West (also called "Josh" in some places) and Richard Cooper were key cogs in a well-oiled wing-T machine at Class 4A Angleton that rolled to a combined record of 23-4 over the past two seasons. The two backfield mates had fine senior years, leading Angleton to a 10-3 record (their three losses were by a combined 14 points) and into the third round of the playoffs.
Josh West was named the MVP of district 23-4A after a season in which he compiled over 1,500 yards and 22 TDs rushing, over 400 yards and 5 TDs receiving, contributed at defensive back in Angleton's nickel package, and - this is one of those stats one would think must be a misprint, but isn't - returned 3 kickoffs for touchdowns and averaged over 40 yards per return! He is the speedier back of the two, and is capable of going the distance when he bursts through a hole in the line or catches a swing pass and beats his defenders to the edge. Angleton head coach Ryan Roark describes West as "a one-cut slasher with great speed", but he shows off a move or two in the open field as well.
Cooper plays the fullback spot in the wing-T-based attack and was voted as a 1st team all-district running back. He is "very explosive" (Coach Roark's words), but also "a patient runner with great lateral quickness and terrific vision." He finished the year with 1,545 yards and 15 TDs on the ground. He is a strong runner and shows some elusiveness in the open field, breaking a lot of tackles in his senior highlight video.
Quarterbacks who run pass-heavy four- and five-wide spread offenses sometimes get the dreaded "system quarterback" label, and I think at times running backs who pile up the yardage in misdirection-heavy wing-T or flexbone option offenses are marginalized as "system running backs". Such an assessment would be wrong and unfair if applied to Cooper and West. Cooper is a player who could succeed in a variety of offensive systems as an every down back, and West is as good of an under-the-radar all purpose back prospect as you'll find in the state. Roark told me in November that several colleges had expressed interest in his backfield stars, and though neither West nor Cooper had received an official offer at that time, he expected "several" schools to offer the pair before Signing Day. I'll get back to him for an update on the pair soon.
Kade Harrington (Humble Kingwood) - Running Back, 5-7 175 pounds
I, for one, hope he gets to show them off at the next level.
(Victoria West) - Offensive Lineman, 6'3" 250
For an offensive lineman, Jake Wallace is light on his feet. The bad news: he's light, period. And he was a lot lighter as recently as 2 years ago. When he first became a starter on the offensive line at Victoria West, he was a 190-pound sophomore. As a senior he was up to 250, but somehow, despite putting on some 60 pounds in two years, he looks on film to have plenty of room to add more. His head coach agrees. Says Victoria West head coach Leonard McAngus, "Jake's work ethic is second to none. I believe he could put on 30 to 40 pounds and carry it well. He has excellent flexibility, which leads me to believe he can carry the weight and not slow down."
Wallace played left tackle for Victoria West (and also ably filled the role of long snapper) but is likely bound for the interior at the next level, whichever level that turns out to be. McAngus told me in early December that Wallace had not received any offers yet but "his name is starting to get out there." He's a punishing run blocker at the point of attack and also plays well in space, getting to the second level on some plays and showing promising pulling ability on others. Hopefully his current weight won't ward off recruiters who take a look at him or his film. As Coach McAngus told me, "Whoever gets him will not regret it."
This concludes my Unheralded 2013 Players of the Week series. I plan to make one last post after Signing Day and give an update on the colleges choices of the 16 players featured. Whether or not I take on this thing next year remains to be seen, but it was a fun series to do and I hope those of you who followed it enjoyed reading along.
Previous Unheralded 2013 Player of the Week picks:
Week Nine - Kameron LeCoq, DE (Fort Worth Dunbar)
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)