Small school, big talent
These small-school players are some of the state's top recruits
The 2007 edition of Dave Campbell’s Texas Football featured Tommy Blake (Aransas Pass/TCU), Colt McCoy (Tuscola Jim Ned/Texas) and Stephen McGee (Burnet/Texas A&M) on the cover and highlighted the rise of small-school prospects.
Every year since, it seems more and more BCS program are adding players from 4A, 3A and 2A schools. Sure, 6A and 5A still produces the most talent across the board. But hidden gems at smaller schools aren’t so hidden anymore.
Why is that the case?
Smaller schools are simply producing more talent. Just look at last year’s Argyle team, which captured the 3A Division II state title. The Eagles sent four players to BCS schools-- that’s more than big-school state powers such as Allen, Katy and Southlake Carroll.
This year’s class features plenty of small-school talent as well. Here are some of the state’s top 2015 small-school prospects.
DT Daylon Mack, Gladewater (6-2-310)- Mack is no way flying under the radar. One of the top overall prospects in the country, Mack is a dominant interior defensive lineman and an immovable force inside. He is rated as a five-star prospect and the No. 1 defensive tackle in the state by most recruiting services. As a junior, Mack recorded 97 tackles including 36 for loss, six sacks and eight forced fumbles. He was also utilized on offense as a short-yardage back and punished opposing defenders. Mack committed to Texas A&M over offers from Alabama, Auburn, Ohio State and others.
ATH Roney Elam, Newton (6-3, 180)- The best way to describe Elam is Mr. Do-it-all. Elam literally did a little bit of everything for Newton on both sides of the ball last season. He passed for 939 yards, rushed for 437 yards, recorded 35 tackles, picked off six passes and scored 17 total touchdowns. Elam is an athletic freak who most likely end up somewhere in the secondary at the next level. Newton head coach W.T. Johnston says Elam is long and rangy and has no fear of coming down and laying the wood. His recruitment started off a little slow but over the past month, Alabama, LSU, Texas and others have extended offers.
DBs Deionte Thompson (6-2, 175)/Johnny Shaw (6-1, 190), West Orange-Stark- Thompson and Shaw are two of the top safeties in the Class of 2015. Shaw transferred to West Orange-Stark from Center after his junior year, so this will be the duo's first and only year together. Thompson is currently committed to Alabama while Shaw flipped from TCU to Texas. With Louisiana Tech commit Trey Marks also in the mix, West Orange-Stark has arguably the best secondary in the state. It’s no surprise that recruiters keep going back to West Orange-Stark year after year.
ATH Blake Lynch, Troup (6-4, 190)- Potential and versatility. That’s what Lynch brings to the table. A Baylor commit, Lynch can play everything from quarterback to wide receiver to defensive back. Lynch plays quarterback for Troup and is one of the most dangerous dual-threat signal-callers in East Texas. Lynch amassed 1,300 yards and 24 touchdowns in six games before a wrist injury sidelined him for the rest of the season.
ATH Louis Brown, Burton (6-6, 210)- Lynch isn’t the only small-school prospect Baylor has landed in its class. The Bears also came away with monster athlete Louis Brown. His measurables jump off the screen and so do his numbers. In the past two years, Brown has notched 326 tackles, 11.5 sacks and two interceptions. Brown can play anywhere on the field, but is projected to be an outside linebacker for Baylor.
DB Kris Boyd, Gilmer (6-1, 175)- Boyd is an explosive offensive weapon for Gilmer. Last season, he rushed for 1,191 yards and scored 23 total touchdowns. But Boyd’s future in college is on the defensive side of the ball. With his size and athleticism, Boyd can matchup with taller receivers and has the potential to develop into a shutdown corner. Boyd holds offers from Baylor, Oklahoma, Texas and others.
RB Nick Ralston, Argyle (6-0, 215)- Ralston has quietly been one of the most productive running backs in the state. In the past two seasons, he’s rushed for 3,528 yards and 53 touchdowns. Ralston also lines up linebacker and helped Argyle capture a state title last year. But when you play in the D-FW Metroplex, it’s easy to get lost in the recruiting shuffle. Only Arizona State has offered –- he committed there in February-- but don’t be surprised if he has a lengthy offer list before the start of his senior season.
QB Nathan Elliott, Celina (6-1, 180)- Elliott is a little undersized, and that might be the reason he doesn’t have double digit offers. But he can sling it. Elliott passed for 1,928 yards and 26 touchdowns last season despite playing in a run-first offense. His accuracy and arm strength have impressed at an array of camps and helped him garner offers from Arizona State, Arkansas State, Army and North Carolina. Also keep an eye on Elliott’s favorite target, Cash Conder, who holds offers from Akron and Western Michigan.
ATH Javaughn Thurmon (5-10, 170)/OLB Derrick Walker (6-3, 175), Ferris- Both Thurmon and Walker are very intriguing prospects. Thurmon can play a little bit of everything but is expected to be a wide receiver or defensive back in college. Last season, he was under center and threw for 975 yards, rushed for 891 yards and scored 21 total touchdowns. If Walker can put on some weight, more offers will start to role in. At the moment, he’s a little too thin to play outside linebacker at the next level, but Walker is simply a tackling machine-- 111 tackles last year. Both prospects hold offers from Colorado State.
EJ Holland is the associate editor of Dave Campbell's Texas Football and TexasFootball.com.
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