High School: 2012 National Signing Day

Four area recruits make 2013 early top 100 list

February, 2, 2012
Four area players show up on ESPN Recruiting's early look at the top 100 prospects for the class of 2013.

The list is in alphabetical order, but players are ranked as four- or five-star recruits.

Celina OT Jake Raulerson is the area's only five-star prospect on the list.

Dallas Kimball DT Justin Manning, Dallas Jesuit WR Jake Oliver and Lake Highlands OT Kent Perkins are on the list as four-star recruits.

It's noted that players on this list aren't guaranteed to be in next year's ESPNU 150.
DALLAS -- Hidden behind the fanfare that surrounded Dallas Skyline receiver Thomas Johnson’s signing day selection of Texas A&M was one of the largest signing groups in North Texas.

Skyline football had 14 student/athletes sign national letters of intent Wednesday in front of friends and family at the high school.

The Raiders' other ESPNU 150 athlete, No. 57 Peter Jinkens, inked his pledge to play for the Texas Longhorns next year. It is the seal to a commitment Jinkens made well before the beginning of his senior season.

“I’ve been dreaming about going to Texas since I was little. It’s like a dream come true. Words can’t describe how happy I am right now.”

Jinkens will be joining a group at Texas that includes some of the area’s best talent, including No. 2 Johnathan Gray from Aledo.

Alongside Jinkens and Johnson at Skyline’s signing table was one other D1 signee, David Green, who will attend UNLV in the fall.

The remaining athletes signed with a variety of other schools, including Grambling State, Cisco Junior College, Southwestern College and Tarleton State Universtiy.

Denton Ryan celebrates one of its best classes

February, 1, 2012
DENTON, Texas – Denton Ryan coach Joey Florence would have been happy with one signee. After seeing eight players sign national letters of intent Wednesday, he was beaming.

The Raiders had what Florence called “one of the best classes in a long time,” and the scholarships were proof. Led by the nation’s top-ranked player in five-star defensive end Mario Edwards, Ryan opened national signing day with a productive morning ceremony in the Ryan athletics facility.

“We’ve been fortunate at Ryan to have strong classes come through, and this is definitely one of the strongest classes,” Florence said. “It’s good and bad emotions for me: good that their getting scholarships they worked so hard to get and bad because they’re not playing for me anymore. You have mixed emotions, but you’re excited for them.”

Edwards signed with Florida State, while offensive lineman Jordan Williams and defensive end Dominique Banks signed with Missouri and Baylor, respectively. All-purpose athlete Trey Mohair signed with UTSA and will play FBS football next season, as the Roadrunners will move to the WAC.

Cornerback Cedric Harris signed with Colorado State-Pueblo, receiver Sterling Fuggett signed with Evangel (Mo.) University, and offensive lineman Tevin McCray signed with Trinity Valley Community College. Additionally, linebacker Alex De La Torre signed with Texas, and linebacker Jordan Richmond signed with Texas A&M.

De La Torre and Richmond were not in attendance Wednesday. De La Torre graduated in December and is taking classes at Texas. Richmond was in Austin preparing for the 2012 International Bowl, pitting USA’s top under-19 players against top players in the world.
DALLAS – Nick Rose knew so little about the sport of football just over two years ago, he couldn’t define a hash mark.

Yet in two years time, the Highland Park senior is in the running to be the next starting kicker at the University of Texas.

[+] EnlargeNick Rose with Randy Allen
Travis L. Brown/ESPNDallas.comHighland Park kicker Nick Rose committed to Texas on national signing day.
Wednesday, Rose gave his commitment to the Longhorns during the school’s national signing day ceremony inside Highlander Stadium.

Rose grew up a soccer player in Copperas Cove. When he moved with his family to Highland Park before his junior year, Rose thought he’d try football, which became a vehicle to college athletics.

“I was just trying to meet people and I figured I could kick a football well, so I walked out on the field and didn’t know what to do – didn’t even know what a hash mark was or any of that,” Rose said. “Time went on and the coaches liked how I could kick. My first kickoff went out of the end zone and I realized I had a knack for kickoffs. I don’t know how or why.”

Technically, Rose did not sign a letter of intent, as was the procedure of most recruits across the country Wednesday. He made a public commitment to follow a plan Texas laid out for Rose, beginning as a preferred walk-on for the Longhorns.

Rose will have his tuition paid for by the football team throughout a summer semester, which will cover fall two-a-days in Austin, but he will assume walk-on status for his first season, which means his family will cover tuition.

Rose’s next step in preseason practices will be to earn a starting job and a scholarship to carry him throughout the remainder of his eligibility.

Competing for the same positions will be Coppell's Nick Jordan, who faxed his signature Wednesday to accept a scholarship from the Longhorns.

“Texas has a kicker that they have all the confidence in the world in,” Rose said of Jordan. “They came up here to scout another player and ended up noticing my kickoffs and from there everything took off, and I can’t be grateful enough how everything happened.”

Rose and Jordan have kicked together in offseason kicking contests, and that familiarity and friendship is as important to Rose as the competition he will face for playing time.

Preliminary indications from the Texas coaching staff, relayed to Rose, are favoring Rose as a starting kickoff specialist and punter and Jordan as the starting place kicker.

Rose spent his senior year booting kickoffs consistently out of the back of the end zone for the Scots, impressing Highland Park coach Randy Allen from the moment he set foot on the school’s campus and eventually sparking the same interest of Texas co-offensive coordinator Major Applewhite.

“Nick Rose has lots of potential,” Allen said. “He’s the best kickoff guy I’ve ever coached. I know he’s going to compete for that starting position at Texas.”

Rose was key in securing Highland Park’s District 10-4A title this season, drilling a game-winning extra point in overtime to give the Scots a 31-30 victory over Rockwall-Heath, clinching the district No. 1 seed.

“I was just thinking keep my head down and follow through,” Rose said after the game. “Stick with my basics and hopefully it would go in. My heart was going crazy before I kicked it and then it was all relief that I could pull my team through.”

Trying to earn a starting job and a scholarship puts extraordinary pressure on a freshman kicker, but high-pressure situations are nothing new to Rose.

“I’ll be good for Nick to have competition, but I can’t imagine anyone kicking it further than he does on kickoffs,” Allen said.

Other Highland Park notes:

* Long-time Duke commit Tanner Stone signed with the Blue Devils. He said a summer trip to take part in a football camp sold him on Duke.

* Backup quarterback Tyler Rentfro signed with McMurry University. Rentfro attempted only one pass for the Scots in his senior season for 4 yards.

* All three parts of Highland Park’s top offensive trio from 2012 held out on national signing day. Quarterback Brady Burgin hopes to snag a late offer from a school that possibly lost a quarterback recruit on signing day, Allen said. Receiver Dalton Stogner, who is still recovering from a season-ending knee injury, recently returned from a “good” trip to the University of North Carolina, Allen said. Stogner and running back Preston Miller both visited SMU as well and liked their experience with the Mustangs' coaching staff, Allen said.
For Dallas Lincoln High School football players Tabari McGaskey, Jhaylind Owens and Marvin Knox, signing a national letter of intent Wednesday wasn't just about getting a free education.

It represented hope for a better life. Hope for their families. Hope for their children who haven't been born yet.

Their hope for a better future has zero to do with any dreams of playing professional football.

If it happens, then so be it.

But they're not going to college hoping to become professional athletes. They're attending college so they can learn to be successful men.

That's so much more important.

Read the full column here

Mes. Horn's Harris talks about signing with A&M

February, 1, 2012

ESPN Midlands Regional Recruiting Coordinator Damon Sayles interviews Mesquite Horn cornerback De’Vante Harris, one of Texas A&M’s newest recruits.

Southlake Carroll sends four to FBS colleges

February, 1, 2012
Southlake Carroll's senior class signed its name in Dragon lore with an unexpected state title run in 2011.

On Wednesday, key members of that class signed national letters of intent to play at the next level.

WR/DB Sabian Holmes (Texas A&M), WR Peyton Williams (Colorado), LB Will Davis (Kansas State) and OL JJ Prince (Purdue) all made it official at a ceremony Wednesday morning at the school.

"What I admired most about these guys is that they put the team first," said Carroll head coach Hal Wasson. "They exemplified outstanding leadership and had a great work ethic. I'm so proud of each one of them. They definitely left their mark."

Each of the four were instrumental in Carroll's title. Holmes, originally a Baylor commit, led the team in receiving with 1,336 yards and 14 touchdowns and had a key pass deflection late in the game against Fort Bend Hightower that allowed the Dragons to pull away for the victory.

Williams, a three-year starter, caught 90 balls for 1,162 yards and 10 touchdowns, but his season was cut short in the state semifinals against Dallas Skyline when he left the game with a knee injury.

Davis led a defensive front that improved dramatically as the year went on, and he came up with key tackles and forced turnovers against Skyline and Hightower.

Prince helped quarterback Kenny Hill become one of the most elusive signal callers in the area, protecting him on passing plays and opening holes in the running game.

FM Marcus sends two linemen to area colleges

February, 1, 2012
Two Flower Mound Marcus linemen decided to stay close to home to play college football.

Defensive lineman Josh Carraway signed with TCU and offensive lineman Ryan Rentfro sent his letter of intent to North Texas on Wednesday. Marcus had 11 total players sign, the school's biggest signing class under head coach Bryan Erwin.

"It's just a great class from top to bottom," Erwin said. "Our kids really developed over the last couple years to earn this opportunity."

Marcus cornerback Deion Sanders Jr. did not sign Wednesday. He held an offer from Houston earlier in the season. It's unclear whether that offer was still on the table after head coach Kevin Sumlin left for Texas A&M.

Sanders addressed his future on his Twitter account Wednesday morning:
" For everybody that wants to know, I will address this now and later on tonight. I have more offers than what you see on Rivals .. Way way more... But I did not sign anywhere today. I will go to Prep School in Atlanta for 5 months and then go to a Division 1 college in January or February of next year."

Fate shined on two Arlington Martin signees

February, 1, 2012
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Two Arlington Martin players signed letters of intent Wednesday, and head coach Bob Wager couldn’t help but reflect on how both could have had an unhappy outcome.

Defensive lineman Devonte Fields, who signed with TCU, was very nearly dropped from the program as a sophomore.

“He couldn’t get anywhere on time,’’ Wager recalled. “I brought his mother into a meeting, the three of us. And I asked Devonte how he thought he could be an NFL player without getting anywhere on time. Tears rolled down his cheeks. And I guess mom took over from there. Never underestimate the power of mom.’’

Fields (6-foot-4, 240 pounds) said he thinks about the incident all the time. Even on signing day. And he doesn’t like to think what his life might be like had he not had that meeting.

“Today, I feel like I accomplished one of my goals in life,’’ said Fields, who is No. 73 in the ESPNU 150.

Wager said Mustafa Haboul wound up in football as a high school freshman for one simple reason -- he got in the wrong line.

“He didn’t realize he was in the line to play football,’’ Wager said. “He knew nothing about the game. All he would do was chase the ball wherever it went.’’

Haboul said basketball was the only sport he would watch in those days. He tried to watch football, but didn’t understand the game well enough to be interested.

Gradually he learned the game and he enjoyed the physical aspect.

Haboul (6-foot, 247) wound up at nose guard for the Warriors.

“Last season, we issued him a new helmet,’’ Wager said. “You should have seen that helmet after the season. It was beaten up like one I’ve never seen. It can’t even be reconditioned.’’

On Monday, two days before signing day, Haboul got a scholarship offer from the University of North Texas.

“My mom was jumping around, my dad was laughing,’’ Habou saidl. “The whole thing is amazing. I never thought I’d be a part of this today.’’

Martin had seven players sign FBS scholarships. The previous best for the school was five last year.
Plano West doesn't have the No. 1 prospect in the nation like it did in 2009 with Jackson Jeffcoat, but the Wolves are sending a defensive end to Texas.

Bryce Cottrell signed a national letter of intent to play for the Longhorns on Wednesday, becoming the second West defender to sign with Texas in three years.

Cottrell helped lead the Wolves to the brink of the playoffs. They finished in a three-way tie for a playoff spot in the brutal District 8-5A, but West finished on the outside looking in after losing the tiebreaker.

The senior was originally committed to Oregon but switched just before signing day.

Plano West's Carlos Wiggins also signed on Wednesday, putting his name in ink for New Mexico.

Other notable area players who signed on Wednesday include Sache's Tyler Holmes (Kansas); West Mesquite defensive back Cranston Jones (New Mexico); McKinney Boyd defensive end Jamal Palmer (Baylor) and punter Camerson Decell (Rice); and Lake Dallas receiver Ferrando Joseph (Louisiana Monroe) and running back Dontonio Jordan (Stanford).

Frisco RB Harris stays home, signs with UNT

February, 1, 2012
Running back Carlos Harris helped resurrect Frisco's suffering football program.

He'll have the opportunity to do the same at North Texas.

The District 9-4A MVP signed a national letter of intent Wednesday to play for a Mean Green team that isn't in too different a situation as Frisco was before Harris came along.

[+] EnlargeCarlos Harris
Travis L. Brown/ESPN.comFrisco running back Carlos Harris is staying close to home after signing with North Texas.
Frisco went 1-19 in the 2008 and 2009 seasons. The Raccoons rebounded in 2010 with Harris at quarterback and excelled in 2011 after moving him to running back. Frisco won two playoff games.

North Texas is on a similar arch. It went a dismal 6-37 in 3 1/2 seasons under Todd Dodge but rebounded in 2011 under Dan McCarney with a 5-7 record.

Harris was the workhorse running back in Frisco's Wing-T offense, rushing for 1,722 yards and 21 touchdowns on 223 carries.

The Raccoons weren't the only Frisco ISD team to have a breakout season. Frisco Centennial went undefeated in the regular season and won two playoff games.

Chase Appleby lead a formidable front seven that fueled Centennial's run. He signed with Wyoming on Wednesday.

Skyline WR Johnson instinctively picks A&M

February, 1, 2012

DALLAS – The last thing Dallas Skyline receiver Thomas Johnson wanted to do in the recruiting process is overthink his decision.

That’s why he followed his heart, which told him to become an Aggie.

Johnson signed his letter of intent to play football for Texas A&M at his school Wednesday in front of peers, family, coaches and teachers.

[+] EnlargeThomas Johnson
Travis L. Brown/ESPNDallas.com Dallas Skyline WR Thomas Johnson pondered Cal, Oregon and TCU hats before pulling out a Texas A&M cap and putting it on.
As has become the norm on national signing day, the event wasn’t without a little drama. Johnson had stated interest in Oregon, Cal and TCU prior to Wednesday and featured hats from those three schools in front of his seat at the signing table.

When the time came for Johnson to make public his decision, he brought forth the maroon A&M hat from under the table and pulled it down on top of his head.

“I don’t do a lot of thinking, because overthinking – you make the wrong decision,” Johnson said. “'Think long, think wrong' is what I was taught.”

Johnson said he settled on the Aggies after he returned from his recruiting trip on Jan 20. He said being around the players and coaches in College Station made him realize it was the place he needed to be. That thought process stuck with him on the drive back to Dallas and as he thought over his options the next day.

Johnson gave A&M a call Tuesday night to alert the coaching staff to expect his signature Wednesday morning.

Johnson said the addition of Kevin Sumlin to the helm of the Aggie football team only helped in nabbing the No. 33 recruit in the nation.

“If they bring the passing attack from Houston to A&M, it’s a wide receiver-friendly university,” Skyline coach Reginald Samples said. “If you look at the numbers of their wide recievers that are graduating, it’s a good opportunity for him to catch a lot of passes, and that’s what he was concerned with.”

A&M’s move to the SEC also helped in recruiting Johnson, who said he was excited to play in “the best conference in the country.”

“I’m about to go down there and do some work on these SEC guys,” Johnson said.

The runner-up in the Johnson recruiting race was hometown TCU, which was represented on the table in front of Johnson in the form of the locker room Rose Bowl champion hat.

Oregon dropped out of the picture after Johnson’s recruiting trip to the northwest due to the distance of the school from his home.

“That flight gave me a lot of time to think and you know what I said, ‘Think long, think wrong,’” Johnson said. “But everything worked out to the best.”

Johnson had previously been committed to Texas for over a year before decommitting from the Horns earlier in January.

Johnson will join his cousin De’Vante Harris of Mesquite Horn in College Station. Like Johnson, Harris decommitted from his original selection, Oklahoma, and decided to send his commitment to A&M not long after.

While Johnson said Harris never directly influenced his decision to pick A&M, Harris made it a point to recruit Johnson to the Aggies.

“Knowing I have family on campus is a great feeling,” Johnson said.

Johnson’s last-minute decision didn’t surprise his coach much because it was that instinctive nature that made him such a threat for Samples at Skyline.

“He tried to take all the extras out of it and get right to the point,” Samples said. That’s the kind of young man he is and I’ve enjoyed working with him the years he’s been here.”

DeSoto's Echols relieved after signing with UT

February, 1, 2012
DeSOTO, Texas -- After signing a letter of intent with Texas, Bryson Echols said the feeling was one of relief.

[+] EnlargeBryson Echols
DeSoto High SchoolDeSoto's Bryson Echols committed to Texas in Feb. 2011 and signed with the Longhorns nearly a year later.
“I worked hard since I was a freshman for this day and now I’m glad it is over,’’ said the DeSoto cornerback, who is No. 79 in the ESPNU 150.

Echols (5-foot-10, 175 pounds) was a four-year varsity player for the Eagles, competing at one of the most difficult of positions. He made an early oral commitment to Mack Brown and the Longhorns.

Claude Mathis, DeSoto’s head coach throughout Echols' career, could not be a part of signing day. Mathis recently accepted a job as an assistant coach at the University of Houston.

“Even though Coach Mathis wasn’t here in person, I know his heart was here,’’ Echols said.

Keller Central star WR/DB signs with Sooners

February, 1, 2012
Keller Central's Zach Sanchez was one of the few athletes not playing quarterback or running back who could take over a game by himself.

Now Sanchez will try to do the same in the Big 12.

The receiver/defensive back signed a national letter of intent to play for Oklahoma on Wednesday, finishing a career that may leave him as the best player in Central's short history.

Sanchez caught 45 balls for 994 yards and 13 touchdowns in addition to his work on the defensive side of the ball, where he was one of the most feared DBs in the area.

The senior's defining performance came against Denton Guyer. He caught two touchdown passes and returned an interception 85 yards for a touchdown in Central's 21-14 win.

That win went a long way toward solidifying Central's first playoff berth in school history. Central beat Coppell in Week 10 in what amounted to a playoff play-in game, and the Chargers put a scare into top-ranked Allen in bi-district before losing 30-17 at Cowboys Stadium.

Sanchez was originally committed to Baylor but switched late in the process.

Central offensive lineman Simon Goines also signed on Wednesday. He joins Jim Mora's first class at UCLA.

North Carolina won Arl. Bowie DE with honesty

February, 1, 2012
ARLINGTON, Texas -- A little honesty went a long way, helping North Carolina land Arlington Bowie defensive end Jesse Rogers.

“Some of the schools would tell me false things,’’ said Rogers (6-footo-4, 240 pounds), who signed on Wednesday. “North Carolina kept it real from the start. I appreciate that.’’

Rogers said the scenic campus in Chapel Hill, N.C., was another selling point.

“This is an emotional time for me,’’ said Rogers, who wore a light blue Carolina cap. “Signing with people that are just like my brothers.’’