West Mesquite DB duo second to none
Kameron Miles, Will Earley no longer wonder if they're good enough to play in college
MESQUITE, Texas -- The West Mesquite (Mesquite, Texas) defensive back duo of Kameron Miles and Will Earley had reason to celebrate last Tuesday. While Earley picked up his first SEC offer from Ole Miss and second overall, Miles upped his list of schools to nine by picking up an offer from Stanford. Miles has added three more offers since then.
This is becoming more and more of the norm for Miles and Earley. It was only a few weeks back when both players were questioning if they were even good enough to play college football.
Kyle Ward: coach with a calling
Despite his accomplishments as a football player, West Mesquite High School secondary coach and recruiting coordinator Kyle Ward never asks for any fanfare or recognition. Satisfaction to him is measured by the players he coaches who receive the big story or get the big college offer.
It's a relatively humble stance for a coach who easily could steal away the shine of his players with his own résumé. After completing his college career at Louisiana-Lafayette, Ward has spent some time as a defensive back in the NFL, suiting up for the Packers in 2008 and the Bills in 2009.
While playing football was his life once upon a time, coaching football is now his ultimate passion.
"I decided to go ahead with my calling, rather than chase that money," Ward said. "It started to weigh heavy on me because I started thinking of the lives lost in the years I'd be chasing it. I went through a lot through football, and I saw why and how to use it. I retired from football early to do it."
Ward was the defensive backs coach at Dallas Lincoln the last two years before taking over similar duties at West Mesquite this year. Ward has coached 11 defensive backs in those three seasons. All 11 have received athletic scholarships. Five of the 11 are FBS players. After the 2012 season, Ward hopes to keep his unblemished streak going. With Kameron Miles and Will Earley, that idea isn't so far-fetched.
"Coach Ward's been a great asset for our staff," West Mesquite head coach Mike Overton said. "He's great with kids; he's a great teacher. We feel we've got the best secondary coach in all of Texas.
Ward's had a couple offers to take his talents to the college level, but he's turned them down. He feels he is at West Mesquite to fulfill a calling. Ward grew up in the Oak Cliff area of Dallas and attended Kimball High School. He sees a lot of the West Mesquite players in the players he grew up with. Many of those players had the talent to make it far on the football field but lacked proper guidance.
"The neighborhoods that I coach in are so similar to the one I grew up in, and I've seen firsthand through my peers that this is life or death for most of them," Ward said. "It's not about the money for me. I know I'm here to use this gift to change lives.
"That's why I'm such a strong believer it's no coincidence that my life was perfectly put together for me to be here doing what I'm doing. I'm a living testimony."
-- Damon Sayles
Now, it seems like they hear a program is either interested or offering on a daily basis.
"It's all happening so fast," said Miles, who has offers from UCLA, TCU, Arkansas and Oregon State, among others. "There were colleges that I never had contact with offering me. It's just shocking, but I'm thankful that it's happening. It makes us all want to keep working."
Miles and Earley are two-thirds of a West Mesquite trio self-dubbed the "Terrible three". Combined with wide receiver Eldridge Massington, the trio holds nearly 25 offers.
"When they went to Baylor's junior day, [head coach] Art Briles said he wanted a lot of BICs -- players who were the best in the country," West Mesquite defensive backs coach and recruiting coordinator Kyle Ward said. "I think they took that and ran with it, and their goals are to show everyone they're the best in the country."
Miles and Earley, first and foremost, instantly pass the eyeball test. Miles, a safety, is 6-foot-2 and 205 pounds. Earley, a cornerback, is 6-1 and 190 pounds.
West Mesquite head coach Mike Overton credits Miles for being the leader of the defense. He said Miles is a player who consistently is trying to perfect his skill as an overall athlete -- not just as a safety. Miles is also on the West Mesquite basketball team, and Overton said Miles will often times finish basketball practice and then work on secondary drills.
"I can't say enough about Kameron Miles," Overton said. "Not only is he a great football player, but he also is a great leader and a fantastic student. There are so many positive qualities about him, on and off the field, and I know he's going to be a huge success at the next level. He's got a great work ethic and a desire to be the best."
Earley is considered the sleeper of the bunch. While many colleges were eyeing Miles on defense and Massington on offense, Earley continued to quietly impress scouts with his play. Considered a hybrid cornerback who could shine at safety, Earley has good size, 4.4 speed in the 40-yard dash and a will to rise above the critics.
Overton said the untapped potential in Earley may result in a college picking up an outstanding player.
"Will's really found his niche at corner," Overton said. "He's a big kid who can flip his hips and run. His size and ability to run gives us options on when we can lock him down on bigger receivers. He's developing into a phenomenal playmaker, and he's got all the characteristics to really be special. Once he gets on a college campus, he's going to open some eyes."
Ward is happy for his players, but he's most proud that while the offers come, they refuse to be complacent. Ward instills in his players to never be satisfied.
"Every kid is different," he said, "but if you can get the maximum potential out of each kid, that potential can be through the roof if you convince them never to be satisfied. For guys like Miles and Earley, that's expected."
The 2012 season will show just how serious both defensive backs are. The upcoming weeks could cap that determination with a verbal commitment from a high-profile program.
"That's what you work for, right?" Miles said.
Damon Sayles covers Midlands recruiting for ESPN Recruiting. He can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @DamonSayles