In a state with seemingly countless high school football players, it’s virtually impossible to properly evaluate, rank and recruit each and every college prospect that emerges from each class. While the best of the best become borderline celebrities throughout the recruiting community, there’s always hidden gems that slip through the cracks.
San Marcos safety Prudy Calderon is one such example.
During the past nine months, dating back to when he visited the Forty Acres last summer for Texas’ Under The Lights camp, Calderon — once just a quality high school talent — has transformed into a legitimate Division I prospect.
As Calderon sharpened his technique throughout his junior season, his physical maturation eventually caught up with his football IQ and instinctive ball skills, making for the highly underrated 2018 defensive back he’s blossomed into today.
“When I first came in, I was just an athlete,” Calderon told Burnt Orange Nation regarding his development. “But being a DB, there’s much more to that. My technique has sharpened up. I’m coming out of my breaks faster; that’s been a better part of my game recently. And also my hips, which is probably the biggest part of being a DB.”
Old, but just watched this again. San Marcos S Prudy Calderon from the Under Armour combine in SA. pic.twitter.com/LGLp1AVhgg— Cody Daniel (@CodyDanielSBN) February 10, 2017
Following a junior campaign in which Calderon snagged four interceptions, recorded 92 total tackles and compiled 609 total return yards — 13 kick off returns, 11 punt returns — the 6’0, 185-pound prospect received respective invitations to the Under Armour combine in San Antonio and the Nike The Opening Regional is Houston, where he continued to impress against some of the state’s premier talent.
More on San Marcos S Prudy Calderon. Between The Opening and the Under Armour combine, he rarely gets beat, even by ranked recruits. pic.twitter.com/5Y3sq6nEhv— Cody Daniel (@CodyDanielSBN) February 9, 2017
Following his business trip to Houston, the safety standout was deemed an under-the-radar prospect by 247Sports’ Brian Perroni. Yet despite an impressive 2016 season — he was named Second Team All-Central Texas by The Statesman — solid performances at the noted camps and impressive test scores — Calderon recorded a 4.6 40 yard dash, 4.1 second shuttle and a 37.4 inch vertical leap at the Under Armour Combine — the central Texas prospect remains considerably under-recruited.
Calderon’s recruitment may finally be on the cusp of a breakthrough.
To date, Calderon is yet to add any scholarship offers, but has become a person of interest for numerous colleges around the state and nation. Throughout his junior season, programs such as UCLA, Kansas State, Oklahoma State, Colorado, Colorado State, SMU, Northwestern, Illinois and UTSA have all shown interest, and he’s set to attend junior days at UTSA (Feb. 11), SMU (Mar. 4) and Washington (Apr. 1); a list that may grow.
But despite growing interest from a handful or programs, Calderon’s heart still pumps burnt orange blood.
Similar to his previous sentiments, Calderon reminisced on his time as a child, watching as Vince Young and Colt McCoy built Texas into a national power and dreaming of an opportunity to suit up for his childhood dream school.
“I feel Texas is on the come up and I feel everybody my age in the state dreams of going to school there so an offer would mean a lot,” Calderon said on what a Texas would would mean.
Former Longhorns defensive coordinator and secondary coach Vance Bedford gauged some interest in Calderon with a trip to his high school last season and brought the junior to Austin for an unofficial visit for the UTEP game, but the short trip from San Marcos didn’t end with an offer. If that were to change now that Tom Herman’s 2017 class is signed and sealed, which Calderon previously said would almost surely result in a commitment, the underrated recruit said there would be no shying away from the opportunity to compete against more the highly-touted defensive backs at Texas.
“I’ve been keeping up pretty heavily with the team and to compete against and work with that young talent they have would just make you that much of a better player,” Calderon said. “Surrounding yourself with other people like that will also help you be successful and that would be a real upside.”
Surprisingly, though, Calderon isn’t focused on the lack of attention surrounding his recruitment with only one high school season remaining. In fact, Calderon told BON that his mindset entering the final stretch is as strong as it’s ever been.
“My mentality is probably at its peak right now,” Calderon said. “I feel like your mind is more important than your physical attributes because that’s what controls you.”
While he’s working towards offers as an overlooked defensive back in a stacked 2018 class, Calderon, a team-first player, is focused on fitting San Marcos’ needs next season and making the transition to quarterback.
“The best improvement I can make is at the new position for my team, so getting that accuracy and timing down with my receivers,” Calderon said of the role he’ll adopt as a senior.
A defensive back by trade, Calderon said he’s unsure if he’ll continue to play safety for San Marcos as the Rattlers’ new starting quarterback. But if his 2016 season and displays throughout the early portion of the offseason are of any indication, one more go-around as the deepest back may finally pay off in the form of free tuition.