The 2018 high school football season is still two weeks away from truly kicking off in the state of Texas, but four of the Texas Longhorns’ out-of-state commits in the 2019 recruiting class will start their season tonight. Below I’ll have some notes on each player.
The game times listed will be local to their particular time zone.
WR Jake Smith (Notre Dame Prep - Scottsdale, Arizona)
This week: August 17 at 7:00, at Fairfax (Laveen, Arizona)
Notes: The multi-talented Jake Smith gained nearly 2,200 yards from scrimmage in 2017, with his yardage total reaching the four figures in both receiving and rushing. Along the way, he scored 28 total touchdowns and led Notre Dame Prep to a 13-1 record and a berth in Arizona’s 5A state championship, where they fell 42-21 to powerhouse Peoria Centennial, which took home its sixth state championship in the span of 12 seasons.
Notre Dame lost its entire starting defense as well as its starting quarterback and leading rusher from 2017 to graduation, but Smith is joined on the roster by several fellow seniors who gained experience from last year’s playoff run. The team’s 2018 regular season schedule includes six teams that reached the playoffs in various conferences a year ago. Notre Dame Prep has the enrollment numbers of a 3A school but competes in 5A, and their run to that conference’s state championship a year ago showed they could more than hold their own against larger schools.
TE Brayden Liebrock (Chandler, Arizona)
This week: August 17 at 7:30 vs. Centennial (Corona, California) at San Bernadino Valley College
Notes: Liebrock caught 39 passes for 600 yards and 5 TDs a season ago, as his Chandler team won its second straight Arizona 6A state title, and its third championship in four years. Chandler was ranked 13th in the final USA Today Super 25 Expert Rankings for the 2017 season.
That same poll has Chandler ranked 8th as the 2018 season begins, and to kick off this year’s gridiron campaign the Chandler Wolves will travel 340 miles west to San Bernadino, California for a high-powered inter-state matchup with 25th-ranked Corona Centennial. Between them, the two teams have four players who are composite four-star recruits and seven who have composite three-star grades. And that’s just their seniors. Mike Craven of the Austin American-Statesman will be covering the game, and you can follow him on Twitter for updates.
Chandler and Corona Centennial previously met early in the 2016 season. Centennial won 56-49 in a largely defense-free game in which the teams combined for over 1,500 yards of total offense, but Chandler went on to finish 13-2 and ended its season with the first of two consecutive 6A state titles.
A composite four-star recruit and the 3rd-ranked prospect in the state of Arizona and 7th-ranked tight end in the nation for 2019, Liebrock has come a long way and boosted his stock considerably in the past year. In May of 2016 (the spring of his freshman year), he was well-known enough that the Arizona Republic ranked him 36th on a list of the state’s top 2019 prospects, though it appears he did not play much that fall, as Chandler’s Maxpreps page did not credit him with any stats during the 2016 season.
As in last season, Liebrock will be catching passes from 2019 BYU commit Jacob Conover, who goes into his senior season with nearly 6,800 passing yards, 64 TDs and just 7 interceptions for his career.
LB De’Gabriel Floyd (Westlake - Westlake Village, California)
This week: August 17 at 7:00, vs. Sierra Canyon (at Granada Hills High School)
Notes: Westlake began its 2017 season with a 25-7 win over Sierra Canyon, which at the time was the defending CIF 2-A champion. Westlake went on to finish 9-3 and reached the second round of the CIF Southern Section Division 3 playoffs.
This will actually be Floyd’s first game in a Westlake uniform, as he transferred to the school in January after attending Golden Valley High School in Santa Clarita last fall. During the 2017 football season, the athletic and versatile Floyd was Golden Valley’s third-leading rusher, second-leading receiver, third-leading tackler, an occasional punt returner (he housed a 69-yard punt return in Golden Valley’s third round playoff win over Mira Costa), and he even threw two touchdown passes. His efforts helped GVHS reach the championship game of the CIF Southern Section’s Division 6 playoffs, where they lost 37-6 to Bishop Diego.
Now at Westlake - the fourth high school Floyd has attended - he joins a Division 2 team that graduated its starting QB and leading rusher, receiver, and tackler from a year ago. There are 18 Division 2 teams in the CIF’s Southern Section, and Westlake was not ranked in the top 10 out of that group in the season’s first poll. Sierra Canyon, their opponent tonight, is the 9th-ranked Division 3 team in the Southern Section.
DB Chris Adimora (Mayfair - Lakewood, California)
This week: August 17 at 7:00, at Long Beach Woodrow Wilson
Notes: Adimora is a composite four-star recruit and currently the 25th-ranked prospect in California’s 2019 class. As a junior he made an impact on both sides of the ball, catching 29 passes for 555 yards and 4 TDs on offense, and making 71 tackles and 7 interceptions on defense.
He and his Mayfair teammates will no doubt be aiming for a repeat of last year’s season-opener, in which Adimora intercepted three passes and returned two of them for touchdowns in a 37-7 win over Woodrow Wilson. Mayfair went on to finish 11-2, reaching the semifinals of the CIF Southern Section’s Division 9 playoffs. This year, Mayfair is one of 22 CIF Southern Section schools in Division 6, and in the season’s first poll the Monsoons are ranked 4th out of that group.
Two of the other three out-of-state Longhorn commits - Georgia defensive back Kenyatta Watson and Florida linebacker Marcus Tillman - will open their season next week, and all of the in-state commits will the following week.
If nothing else, I can promise you that this will be my last post of the season that checks in under 1,500 words.