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Carrying on a Dallas Skyline tradition

11/4/2011

DALLAS -- Dallas Skyline High School might as well have its very own Under Armour All-America Game backdrop and drapery, UA helmets, football and whatever else is present during the game's jersey presentation for its participants.

The football factory on east side of the nation's ninth-largest city has had players chosen for the game in all but one year (2009) since its inaugural kickoff in 2008.

Texas commitments Thomas Johnson, a wide receiver, and Peter Jinkens, a linebacker, became the latest two when they accepted their jerseys on Wednesday in front of their congratulatory and hopeful teammates inside the school's weight room. It was part of the 80-stop American Family Insurance presents the Under Armour All-America Game selection tour.

"It is a blessing because I never thought I would be in this predicament where I get to play with the best kids in the nation," said Jinkens, the No. 5 outside linebacker and No. 55 player overall in 2012. "I am honored."

It's the second time in three years that the Raiders have had a pair of Under Armour All-Americans in the same game, joining receiver Mike Davis (Texas) and linebacker Corey Nelson (Oklahoma) in 2010.

"We work hard. We keep a tradition here," said Johnson, who will be one of 10 Longhorns commitments to play in the game on Jan. 5 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. "There are many players out there that work hard, but at this school everyone works hard. It doesn't matter who you are. We are going to push you and get the best of your abilities out there on that field."

That was a perception that Johnson was well aware of even before he transferred to Skyline from Arlington (Texas) Oakridge in the spring of his sophomore year. He went to middle school with Raiders junior receiver RaShaad Samples, the son of Skyline coach Reginald Samples.

"So I always knew Coach Samples," Johnson said. "I am like his godson and I knew that wherever he was there was going to be hard work. So when I moved back with my mom I wanted to go to Skyline because I wanted people to push me and get the best out of me. I wanted people to constantly push me so I could keep my head on straight."

Johnson, 6-foot and 180 pounds, came to Skyline as a quarterback who threw passes to current BYU receiver, and former Texas commitment, Ross Apo at Oakridge. But he was clearly more adept with his feet having rushed 125 times for 1,625 yards and 25 touchdowns as a sophomore.

So when he got to Skyline, and the Raiders already had an established quarterback in UTEP's Javia Hall, Johnson simply shifted out wide and has grown into one of the nation's best.

Johnson, the No. 4 receiver and the No. 35 player overall, has caught 30 passes for 670 yards and eight touchdowns, and rushed five times for 39 yards and two scores this season.

"I have just been working hard since I stepped on the field at six," Johnson said. "I've always wanted to be an NFL superstar so I guess I am on the right path for that."

Those stats, while still impressive, would be even greater it Skyline didn't have a roster full of playmakers and game-changers. The Raiders have eight players that have scored at least 24 points this season, including five that have 54 points or more.

One of those players with 24 points is Jinkens, who was introduced at the presentation as a running back but will go to Texas as a linebacker. That just speaks to his athletic abilities.

"He's a great athlete," Reginald Samples said. "We play him where we need him. That's one of the things that makes Skyline what it is, we try to emphasize the team aspect of things. We do whatever it takes to help the team."

Jinkens, 6-1 and 210 pounds, rushed 41 times for 418 yards (10.2 average) and seven touchdowns as a junior. He has only rushed 18 times for 155 yards and three scores this season because of the emergence of UNLV commit David Greene in the backfield.

But that's been fine with Jinkens as it has given him more time to hone his craft defensively at a position that has sent three players to the Under Armour All-America Game.

"We put out great linebackers here like Corey Nelson (UA participant in 2010), Keenan Cooper (UA participant in 2008, now at Minnesota) and Anthony Wallace (UA participant in 2011, now at Oregon)," Jinkens said. "That is a lot of pressure. People told me I was going to be good but I just had to keep pushing and keep getting better."

Both players addressed their teammates at the presentation and thanked them for their support. Samples followed and ushered a reminder of Skyline's success in this game with a hope that it will continue next season.

"We would like to keep it going," he said. "We have a couple of guys that we think can continue this tradition."

William Wilkerson covers University of Texas football and recruiting for HornsNation. Follow HornsNation's coverage on Twitter: @ESPNHornsNation.