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Texas Longhorns commits: Week Ten preview

The teams of some recruits will make or break their postseason chances this week

NCAA Football: Texas at Kansas State
Shane Buechele - seen here vs. Kansas State last week - was a regular star of last year’s recruit recap posts.
Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

We are now in the penultimate week of the Texas high school football season. Final playoff seedings have yet to be decided but the postseason picture for most teams will be a lot clearer after this week. As with last season, most of the Texas Longhorns’ commits will be playing on into mid-November, but none of their teams look like true state championship contenders. So if you’ve been wanting to see any of them play in person, try to do so in their last two regular season games or the first round of the playoffs in two weeks.

After the preview capsule for each commit, I’ll catch up with a 2018 recruit who was first mentioned here back in the spring, then profile a speedy senior wide receiver in south Dallas who hasn’t yet been able to garner legitimate college interest.

2017 commits

QB Sam Ehlinger (Austin Westlake)

Last week: Did not play in a 45-6 win over Kyle Lehman

This week: Friday, October 28 at 7:30, at Leander

Notes: As noted in the last two posts, Ehlinger will most likely miss the rest of the 2016 season as he recovers from an injury to the thumb of his throwing hand that he suffered early in Westlake’s Week 7 loss to Lake Travis. In his absence, sophomore QBs Taylor Anderson and Sam Saxton combined to complete 11 of 15 passes for 139 yards, 3 touchdowns and no interceptions in last week’s blowout win over district cellar-dweller Lehman. Tonight Westlake faces 2-6 Leander, and they’ll clinch 2nd place in District 25-6A if they win and Austin Vandegrift (their opponent next week) loses to Buda Hays.

WR Damion Miller (Tyler John Tyler)

Last week: Caught 8 passes for 92 yards and a TD, made 5 tackles, and returned 2 kickoffs for 54 yards in a 38-24 win over Longview

This week: Friday, October 28 at 7:30, vs. Mesquite Horn

Notes: Miller’s TD came on a 7-yard reception in the first minute of the 2nd quarter. It broke a 7-7 tie and gave John Tyler a 14-7 lead, and the Lions led for the rest of the game. They led 21-10 at the half, and after Longview scored less than three minutes into the 3rd quarter to pull within 21-17, John Tyler scored the game’s next 17 points and held a commanding 38-17 lead following a 1-yard TD run with 2:58 left in the 4th quarter.

The win moved John Tyler’s district record to 4-1 and gave them the tiebreaker over Longview (also 4-1) should the two schools finish tied in the district standings. Tonight the Lions will play Mesquite Horn (5-3 overall, 3-2 in district), a team that will be fighting for its playoff life. John Tyler clinches a playoff spot with a win, and even if they were to collapse and lose their last two games to Horn and district doormat Tyler Lee, I think they would still hold enough tiebreakers to get into the postseason.

Horn has been one of DFW’s strongest offensive teams this season, led by Oklahoma commit Chris Robison at QB (he has completed 73% of his passes for 18 TDs against just 2 INTs) and Kansas WR commit Reggie Roberson (who has 42 catches for 797 yards and 10 TDs on the season, with 8 of those scores coming in just Horn’s last four games). Horn has also given up yards and points in droves at times (does that sound familiar to any Longhorn fans?), and in five district games they’ve allowed an average of 460 total yards and 40 points per game. So this game could see a veritable offensive explosion on both sides.

The last two weeks of the high school schedule are silly season when it comes to tables of playoff scenarios. Realistically, the four playoff spots for District 11-6A will be taken by John Tyler, Longview, Rockwall, and whoever wins the Week Eleven matchup between Horn and Rockwall-Heath. In a scenario with some Week Ten upsets, the district’s standings could have five teams go into the final week of the season with district records of 4-2, and an even crazier (and highly unlikely) scenario would result in Horn winning the district with a 5-2 record, and five other teams all finishing 4-3! Stay tuned.

DE LaGaryonn Carson (Texarkana Liberty-Eylau)

Last week: Team defeated Anna 44-17

This week: Friday, October 28 at 7:30, at Princeton

Notes: Carson’s name was not mentioned in any reports I read from before or after Liberty-Eylau’s victory over Anna. He was suspended about a month ago and likely did not play in the game. What his status is for tonight’s game, I do not know, though it’s possible that this tweet from Tuesday holds a clue.

L-E goes into Week Ten with a district record of 2-1. They trail 3-0 Paris and lead the district’s other four teams, which all have 1-2 records. So this is another district in which no team is officially out of playoff contention yet and its final standings could go in a lot of different orders, depending on how the last two weeks shake out. A win on Friday gets L-E into the playoffs, a loss would leave them tied with two other teams (and possibly a third) with a 2-2 district record going into the regular season’s final week.

DE Taquon Graham (Temple)

Last week: Idle

This week: Friday, October 28 at 7:30, vs. College Station

Notes: Temple is coming off a bye week and will face undefeated College Station, which is 9-0 and ranked 7th in this week’s AP poll for Class 5A. The College Station Cougars have not allowed more than 17 points to any of their first nine opponents, while scoring 50 points per game themselves.

College Station’s success is remarkable in that they’ve managed it despite missing two of their best players this season. Senior defensive back Timarcus Davis, a Houston commit who had seven interceptions as a junior, tore an ACL during the summer and has missed the entire 2016 season. Senior QB Ty Brock, a Sam Houston State commit who had a four-star grade from Rivals at one point, suffered a broken fibula in his left leg in Week Two and has not played in a game since, aside from a cameo appearance at the end of last week’s 48-0 win over Waco on Senior Night. Brock entered the game to perform kneel-down honors for the game’s final play, with the also-injured senior Davis lined up behind him.

Brock also missed all of his junior season after breaking his right leg during the 2015 preseason, and since he was the team’s backup QB as a sophomore and was injured in the first half of their home opener in 2016, I don’t believe Brock had ever played a full varsity game at QB in his team’s home stadium, so I’m sure that was a big moment for him and all College Station fans when he came out for the final play of the final home game of his senior season.

In Brock’s absence this year, junior Marquez Perez has filled in more than ably at QB, completing over 71% of his pass attempts for 1,325 yards, 20 touchdowns and just 3 interceptions, while also contributing 474 yards and 5 TDs rushing.

College Station also has a North Texas commit in senior offensive lineman Josh Donovan, who Taquon Graham might just get some snaps against. The winner of this game will be the champion of District 18-5A, and if Temple loses they can clinch 2nd place either with a win next week over Bryan, or a Bryan loss to Waco this week.

CB Kobe Boyce (Lake Dallas)

Last week: Made three tackles, including one for loss, in a 42-14 win over Carrollton Creekview.

This week: Friday, October 28 at 7:00, at Little Elm

Notes: Lake Dallas limited Creekview to 253 total yards and forced four turnovers in their crucial district win last Friday. After taking a 21-7 lead at the half, Lake Dallas ran away in the 3rd quarter, scoring three TDs in a four-minute span and cruising after that. Creekview’s second and final TD came with just 14 seconds left in regulation.

Lake Dallas was forced to start freshman Drew Sanders at QB after injuries felled their top two QBs: the law firm-esque duo of (Spencer) Frederickson and (Ryan) Depperschmidt. Naturally, the ninth grader Sanders rose to the challenge by completing 7 of 11 passes for 115 yards and rushing for 176 yards and 4 TDs.

The win moved Lake Dallas to 3-2 in district play, tying them with two other teams for third place in District 14-5A. One of those two teams is this week’s opponent, Little Elm (the other is McKinney North, who defeated Lake Dallas three weeks ago). The four opponents to beat Lake Dallas this season all gashed them on the ground, and Little Elm, which has primarily been a power running team in recent years (the Kansas Jayhawks’ leading rusher, Ke’aun Kinner, is a Little Elm grad), will be another big challenge for them. Little Elm is averaging 237 rushing yards per game this year.

The winner of this game will have a leg up on earning one of the district’s last two playoff spots, though Lake Dallas closes their season next week with district leader Prosper, while Little Elm takes on McKinney North. If Lake Dallas wins this week and loses to Prosper next week, and if McKinney North wins this week but loses to Little Elm next week, then Lake Dallas, McKinney North, and Little Elm would all finish with 4-3 district records and be in a three-way tie for third place, and the district’s final two playoff spots would be decided by a series of tiebreakers.

CB Josh Thompson (Nacogdoches)

Last week: Team lost to Whitehouse 27-17

This week: Friday, October 28 at 7:30, at Ennis

Notes: Thompson received an offer from Penn State on Wednesday, the first offer he has received since making his commitment to Texas three months ago.

Nacogdoches dealt its playoff hopes a potential blow with their loss to Whitehouse last week. According to the ETSN’s recap of the game, Whitehouse led 27-3 late in the 3rd quarter before Nac scored on consecutive possessions to get within ten points. But their last two possessions of the game ended in turnovers and they were unable to complete the comeback.

Nac is 1-2 in district play and will visit 2-1 Ennis tonight. A loss wouldn’t necessarily eliminate the Dragons from playoff contention but they would then have to win their season finale vs. Jacksonville next week and need Whitehouse to lose both of its last two games.

S Montrell Estell (Hooks)

Last week: Team defeated Omaha Paul Pewitt 42-41 in overtime.

This week: Friday, October 28 at 7:30, at De Kalb

Notes: Last Friday’s game between Hooks and Pewitt was tied at 35 at the end of regulation and went to overtime. Pewitt scored a TD in the first overtime period but missed the PAT attempt, and Hooks answered with a one-yard TD run by Estell then made the PAT to win the game. No other individual stats for Estell were mentioned in any game recap I read.

Tonight’s game at De Kalb will be Hooks’s regular season finale, as their bye is schedule for the final week of the season next week. Hooks is 4-1 in district play and can clinch the championship of District 7-3A Division II with a win over 1-3 De Kalb. Hooks will be in the playoffs regardless of this week’s result, but if they lose there is a potential - albeit unlikely - scenario in which they could finish in a three way tie for first place in the district, and tiebreakers would be used to determine its top seeds for the playoffs.

Catching Up with 2018 TE/OT Reese Moore

I wrote about current Seminole athlete Reese Moore back on March 24th in a BON post that profiled six talented tight end prospects from the 2018 class. Just weeks earlier, Moore had checked in at 6’6” and 249 pounds at the Nike+ Football The Opening Regional Dallas combine, and that same month he had been named to Class 4A Region I’s All-Region team for basketball following a sophomore season in which he averaged 17 points, 10 rebounds and just under 3 blocked shots per game and earned Offensive MVP honors in his district.

Moore’s stock began to take off shortly afterward and he was invited to visit Junior Days and spring practices at various schools. After a busy spring and summer he and his family have continued to put on the miles on weekends this fall, making visits to TCU, Arkansas, and Texas Tech earlier this month. On their schedule for this coming Saturday: a trip to Austin to visit the UT staff and see the Longhorns take on the Baylor Bears.

Moore tells me the UT coaches he talks with most often are offensive coordinator Sterlin Gilbert and offensive line coach Matt Mattox. The Texas staff, like those of most other schools that have been in touch with Moore, sees the big west Texan as a future offensive tackle, and it’s easy to see why with Moore standing in at a legitimate 6’6” and weighing a self-reported 265 pounds.

But for now he’s still primarily a tight end for his Seminole team and running routes and moving at the second level better than a lot of tight ends I’ve seen who are 30-40 pounds lighter. He also handles punting duties for his team (he earned honorable mention all-state honors as a punter in 2015), gets occasional snaps at defensive end, and can be seen in his junior highlights as the center in “swinging gate” formation plays in which he rolls out into the end zone for an easy reception after making the snap.

Tulane became the first school to offer Moore in mid-August, about a week before the first game of his junior season. He has not reported any other offers yet but I don’t doubt that more - probably several more - will follow between now and the end of the spring. Below you can watch highlights from his junior season so far.

Unheralded 2017 Athlete of the Week: Donovan Davidson (Dallas Roosevelt)

The schools in Dallas ISD have produced a lot of NFL talent in their history, and the University of Texas has been the collegiate home for several Dallas recruits over the years.

Dallas Skyline alums Anthony Wheeler, Peter Jinkens, Mike Davis, and Christian Scott have all been starters or important contributors in recent years. Woodrow Wilson’s Sergio Kindle earned multiple all-Big 12 honors and was the 43rd overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft before his career was derailed by injuries. Dallas Carter’s Jonathan Scott started at left tackle for UT’s 2005 National Championship team. Former Dallas Carter coach Bruce Chambers spent 17 seasons on the Texas staff (1998-2014), the first five as running backs coach and the last twelve as tight ends coach. And late 90s Longhorns Hodges Mitchell and Montrell Flowers also came to Austin by way of Skyline.

Playing football for a high school in a big city at the epicenter of one of the most talent-rich areas in the country will definitely help an athlete’s chances of getting noticed by college coaches, but it won’t guarantee it. See: the case of Dallas Roosevelt senior Donovan Davidson.

Davidson, reported to be about 5’10” and 170 pounds, plays wide receiver and defensive back for Roosevelt, and he has been the team’s leading receiver for two seasons. As a junior he caught 37 passes for 692 yards and 5 TDs, and was the biggest offensive playmaker on a 1-9 team that struggled to score points and lost most of its games in lopsided fashion. On defense he was credited with 18 tackles and returned an interception for a touchdown.

This year, Roosevelt doubled its win total from 2015 within the season’s first four weeks, going 2-2 to open the 2016 campaign, but over their next four games they were outscored by a combined 214-16. With two games left in the season, Davidson isn’t on pace to match his junior year stats; so far he has caught 19 passes for 287 yards, rushed 35 times for 165 yards, returned a kickoff for a TD, and returned a blocked PAT attempt the length of the field for a safety (you can see that play at about the 0:55 mark in his senior highlights).

His stats aren’t overly impressive but in his available Hudl clips he shows himself to be an athlete with good speed and stop-and-start quickness, and surprisingly good ball skills for a guy who is only playing in his second season of high school football. With more experience and more weight room time, he could be a much better player in a few years and might be a good slot receiver for a school somewhere.

Roosevelt’s third-year head coach Randall Johnson says Davidson didn’t participate in athletics during his first two years of high school before joining the football team as a junior, and thus he hasn’t had nearly as many years or offseasons of strength and conditioning work as most of his senior peers. Johnson believes Davidson is a Division I-caliber athlete and in particular he lauds Davidson’s ability to go from lateral to vertical speed, a trait that shows up multiple times in his senior year highlights, which can be seen below.

As of now, Davidson, who Johnson describes as a straight-A student, has received no offers from schools at any level. “Nobody’s recruiting him”, was Johnson’s answer when I inquired about Davidson’s current level of interest from college programs. That’s not for a lack of trying to get his name out, as Johnson says he has told numerous college coaches about his athletic senior but none have yet shown interest.

Their indifference can likely be explained by a combination of factors: Roosevelt’s recent lack of success on the field, Dallas ISD football programs as a whole not being on the same level they were 15-25 years ago or more, the fact that Davidson didn’t play high school football until his junior year and probably wasn’t on many schools’ radars after his team’s 1-9 season last year, and his results from the Nike+ Football The Opening Rating Day event on March 12, 2016 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.

At that March combine he measured in at 5’9.5” and 157 pounds, and though he recorded a 34-foot powerball toss (impressive for a guy his size) and 37.3” vertical jump (impressive for any size), he also ran a laser-timed 4.70 forty-yard dash. Though college coaches almost never offer an athlete based on a combine performance, one’s results from an event like that can help or hurt their chances of getting a longer look, and it’s possible some coaches saw his smallish size and somewhat pedestrian 40 time and had no further interest. Though Johnson says Davidson ran hand-timed 4.4s at a couple of camps during the summer.

College coaches still make stops at Roosevelt every spring, but far fewer than the number that once did. It’s a story that will sound familiar to those who’ve watched the gradual decline of a number of Houston ISD powerhouses of yesteryear, some of which now play two levels below the classification they did in their heyday. Once a large school competing at the U.I.L.’s highest classification level (then Class 5A), Roosevelt’s enrollment (like that of most other Dallas ISD schools) has shrunk significantly, to the point that it now competes in Class 4A Division II.

Not helping matters has been the fact that Roosevelt has had the most unstable coaching situation out of all DISD schools during the lifetime of its current seniors. From 1967 to 1998, its football program’s first three decades of existence, Roosevelt had three different head coaches. Since the start of the 1999 season, it has had eleven, none of whom have held the job longer than three seasons.

Though it never reached the heights of Dallas Carter’s much-discussed star-studded teams of the late 80s and early 90s, or had a run of success as long and consistent as that of South Oak Cliff (whose team has missed the playoffs just once going back to 1997), Dallas Roosevelt at one time had one of the city’s top football programs. The Mustangs were postseason regulars for a decade and a half, starting in the mid-80s and going into the beginning of the 2000s, and they won no less than five district titles during that period. Roosevelt has never advanced beyond the third round of the playoffs, but on at least three occasions between 1987 and 2007 they lost by less than ten points in the early playoff rounds to a team that eventually reached the state championship, one of those being a 21-12 loss in the 2nd round to 1987’s eventual 5A state champion Plano.

Several Roosevelt athletes have played beyond high school, and a handful of them reached the NFL. Waymond Bryant was the 4th overall pick in the 1971 NFL Draft and played four seasons with the Chicago Bears. Local legend John Jefferson (formerly Washington) finished his storied high school career less than 100 yards short of the state’s career receiving yardage record in 1973, before starring at Arizona State and being drafted with the 14th overall pick in 1978 by the San Diego Chargers, with whom he was a two-time All-Pro and caught 36 TD passes in his first three NFL seasons.

Later, three Roosevelt alums were drafted within a four-year span, all of them in the first 46 picks of their respective draft class: offensive lineman Richmond Webb (#9 overall in 1990, and a member of the NFL’s 1990s All-Decade Team), linebacker Aaron Wallace (#37 overall in 1990), and wide receiver/kick returner Kevin Williams (picked #46 overall in 1993 by the Dallas Cowboys).

The school’s talent level hasn’t been nearly as rich in the last decade but it has still sent a few players to the next level. In fact, the Texas Longhorns will get an up close look on Saturday at Roosevelt football’s most notable recent alum, Baylor nickelback Patrick Levels, a senior who started in the Bears’ first five games of this season.

Will Donovan Davidson be the next Roosevelt Mustang to reach the D1 level? That remains to be seen, but hopefully a school at some level will give him a chance to continue his football career after high school. Though his team is only 2-6 so far, they can still reach the playoffs if they win their final two games. So coaches won’t have many chances between now and Signing Day to watch Davidson play in person.

Here is Roosevelt’s remaining schedule:
October 28, 7:30 at Ferris
November 4, 7:30 vs. Emory Rains