Last week, Texas played host to numerous high-profile recruits at its second annual Under the Lights camp at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. The camp also attracted a number of talented recruits who do not have Texas offers and who either have other offers but haven't been linked to Texas much by the recruiting media during the current recruiting cycle, or are still trying to raise their profile with the larger world of FBS programs.
One of these lesser-known names in attendance was Chance Lytle, an incoming senior offensive tackle from Winston Churchill High School in San Antonio. As a junior in 2014 he was Churchill's starting left tackle, and his play during that season earned him 2nd team All-District honors for district 26-6A. As far as I can tell, he does not have a full-season highlight video on the web, but you can visit his Hudl page or view clips from his first game of the 2014 season below:
I met Lytle four months ago when I talked to various athletes after they finished going through SPARQ testing stations at the Dallas Nike Combine, held on March 14 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington. Lytle passed the eyeball test with flying colors; he checked in at 6'6" and 265 pounds and posted a SPARQ score of 85.56, a very impressive figure for an O-lineman. Only two offensive linemen at the event posted higher scores, and his kneeling powerball toss of 43.5 feet was the third best mark out of the 2,100+ athletes who were tested that day.
At the time, Lytle said he hadn't received much in the way of recruiting interest, and when I checked back with him in early May he reported having received some mail from colleges and having coaches from UT-San Antonio, Abilene Christian, Incarnate Word, and Houston Baptist, among others, watch him during Churchill's spring practices. His recruitment has really progressed in the two months since then and seems on the verge of really taking off. He has picked up his first three offers, put on a good amount of weight, and impressed coaches and media at various summer camps.
Baylor's 247Sports affiliate, BearsTruth, named Lytle as one of the best OL prospects to compete at Baylor's early June camps. of Horned Frog Blitz (247Sports's TCU site) listed Lytle as one of the top performers at TCU's recent linemen and skills camp. And Scout's Gabe Brooks was impressed by his showing at the Under the Lights camp (his article includes a video with a few clips of Lytle in 1-on-1s).
Lytle obviously has size you can't teach, good length, and has been steadily filling out his frame over the past year or so, and with him being among the youngest members of the 2016 class, he may have more physical development in his future than a lot of the other offensive linemen in the class. At the Dallas Nike Football SPARQ Combine in May of 2014 - a time when Lytle was near the end of his sophomore year and still a month shy of his 16th birthday - he checked in at 6'6" and 240 pounds. Ten months later at the aforementioned 2015 Dallas Nike Combine, he was the same height and 25 pounds heavier. And now, a month after turning 17, he says he has added another 25 pounds.
College coaches are starting to take notice. As of this writing, Lytle's Twitter followers (a useful if imperfect barometer on the extent of an athlete's interest from D1 schools) include coaches/grad assistants/player personnel types from Texas, Michigan State, Colorado, Rice, UTSA, Penn, Dartmouth, and Abilene Christian, among others. If he displays the same agility and athleticism in 2015 that he showed as a junior, while improving his technique and carrying 30+ pounds more than a season ago, I'll be very surprised if he doesn't have at least a handful of Big 12 offers by the end of his senior season.
Whether or not he lands a Texas offer will likely depend heavily on his play in the first few games of the 2015 season, and on how good the UT staff feels about its chances of getting a commitment from Jean Delance (North Mesquite) or flipping current Baylor commit Patrick Hudson (Silsbee).
After learning early this week that Lytle had attended Under the Lights last Saturday, I got in touch with him again and he answered a number of questions about his recruitment, goals for the 2015 season and his senior year, and interests outside of football. Here follows an edited transcript of our exchange.
Burnt Orange Nation: First off, congrats on the offers you have so far! How does it feel going from having Houston Baptist, UTSA, Incarnate Word, and programs like that checking out your spring practices to having legitimate interest from Big 12 schools?
Chance Lytle: It's overwhelming, but I feel honored to have all this interest growing from such fantastic programs and schools.
BON: What schools have offered you so far?
Lytle: Abilene Christian, Rice, and Colorado.
BON: What schools have you been hearing from the most in recent weeks?
Lytle: UTSA, Colorado, UT, Rice, ACU, and multiple D2 and D3 schools. And most of the Ivies.
BON: Pretty good group. Two weeks ago Colorado's Rivals site quoted you saying UT was a school that was "very heavily recruiting" you. When did you first hear from them?
Lytle: After the first camp I attended. They invited me to a second camp a few days later.
BON: Was that at their first mini-camp on June 7?
Lytle: I don't remember exactly, but that sounds right.
BON: So after never having any contact with UT before, you did well enough at their camp that they wanted to work you out again at another camp?
Lytle: Yes, but Coach Wick [offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Joe Wickline] saw me last year at their camp and remembered me. So they had seen me before.
BON: Oh okay. So there was at least a little bit of familiarity there. Have you had the chance to communicate much with Coach Wick or anyone else on the staff aside from during your multiple camp visits?
Lytle: Not all that much. Coach Wick doesn't really email or use Twitter much. But we've been in contact some. Most talking has been at camps.
BON: Gotcha. And which other schools have you camped at or otherwise visited so far this summer?
Lytle: Oregon, Colorado [he attended a camp at Boulder and a CU satellite camp in Houston], UT, UTSA, Baylor, Houston, and TCU.
BON: Was 2014 your first season on varsity?
BON: First season to start?
BON: San Antonio has produced a lot of high-level D1 talent recently and your district has its share of talented athletes. Is there a particular player who you'd say was your toughest blocking assignment?
Lytle: No. One kid at Judson was really fast. That was fun. And Reagan had an all-around good D-line.
BON: Was the Judson guy Alton Robinson? He's #9 at Judson, committed to Texas A&M.
Lytle: I don't remember. I think he's going to be a senior this year. He was probably the toughest, but by far the most fun.
BON: Most fun because of the challenge and having to work harder than against most other guys?
Lytle: Yeah. Got to really see how good I was. I got a rush.
BON: So after having a season starting at left tackle under your belt and getting to compete against some good players in district and at camps, how confident do you feel going into your senior season compared with where your confidence level was a year ago?
Lytle: Extremely. I had jitters before every game last year, but I don't think that'll be happening this coming season. I'm excited and confident.
BON: That's bad news for your opponents' DEs. At the Nike Combine in March you weighed 265. What's your weight up to lately?
BON: Nice! Must be from those upper body workouts you get from playing cello. Which is a good way to segue into your involvement in orchestra. Is that through your school or is it non-school related?
BON: What instrument(s) do you play?
Lytle: Violin, cello, piano, voice.
BON: And is music an area of study you're considering for your major in college?
BON: Very good. Aside from music what are your other main interests outside of football and athletics?
Lytle: Those, at the moment, have been my main interests. I've been looking a bit into neurology but not as focused.
BON: Sounds like some pretty intellectual pursuits. Are you ranked near the top of your class, grades-wise?
Lytle: Yes. 29 ACT, 1850 SAT, 3.6 average, and GT or AP courses only.
BON: No wonder Rice offered you. Three years ago this week I wrote a BON piece on another Churchill athlete: Dimitri Flowers. [Flowers was a tight end/H-back recruit who eventually signed with Oklahoma in 2014.] Did you get to know him or [2013 Churchill grad] Zane Gurwitz, who has been one of the top hitters on the Longhorn baseball team in his first two years?
Lytle: Knew of them. We didn't talk much.
BON: Understandable with Churchill being such a big school and them being 2-3 years older than you. What are your main goals for your senior year?
Lytle: Do my best. I mean I don't really have many specific goals. Get all-state orchestra. Pass 30 on the ACT and 2000 on the SAT. Get whatever football awards I can.
BON: I'd call that aiming high! Enjoy the rest of your summer and good luck in the coming football season and school year.