ARLINGTON, Texas - It's not that Arlington Martin head coach Bob Wager hasn't had his fair share of players go through his Warrior football program and end up at major college football programs.
It's just that the 2011 class has the potential to be one of his best.
Offensive linemen Lane Taylor and Graham Whinery signed letters-of-intent to Oklahoma State and Buffalo respectively while running back Jeremi Mathis and defensive tackle Joe Hawthorne ended up staying in-state at North Texas that same year. One season later, in the class of 2009, wide receiver Chris Omigie signed with Kansas. Last year, lineman Donavan Johnson inked with Iowa.
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So far in the 2011 class, two prospects have already made verbal commitments with several others still looking over a growing list of options. The two players who made their decision just did so in the last week - linebacker Deryck Gildon pulled the trigger for TCU all-purpose back Danzel Williams gave his pledge to Oklahoma.
The 5-9, 190-pound Williams had a successful season on both sides of the ball as a hard-hitting safety and a 1,000 plus yard rusher.
"I think they're getting a dynamic player," Wager said after Williams committed to the Sooners. "He was an all-state safety and he also rushed for 1,300 yards on a part-time basis. So combine that with the fact that he's a dynamic kick and punt returner, blocks punts, and is a terrific kick-off cover player - along with having great balance, breakaway speed and runs with a genuine anger towards his tackles."
Gildon committed just hours after Williams last Monday, choosing to stay in-state and in the area, with TCU.
At 6-2, 205 pounds, he had no shortage of early options as offers had rolled in from the likes of Baylor, Houston, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, SMU, and Texas Tech along with the Horned Frogs.
Wager says that Gary Patterson and the TCU staff are getting a good one.
"Deryck, as far as passing the eyeball test, he's as good looking of a player as we have in our program right now," Wager said. "He's tall, lean, very physical and plays with well his hands - yet he has the ability to run like a safety but also physical enough to play on the line of scrimmage, which is what we've done with him."
Gildon has registered close to 100 total tackles between the 2008 and 2009 season.
Also checking in with an impressive list of offers is defensive back Devonta Sparks. At a self-reported 6-foot, 200 pounds, Sparks looks the part physically. Wager says that Sparks found his way closer to the line of scrimmage on defense where he was able to create problems for opposing quarterbacks.
"Sparks had a fantastic junior year," Wager said. "He's a safety, and our biggest challenge is keeping him away from the line of scrimmage. He's a disruptive player, great blitzer who has the ability to play in space and in coverage. But, he's so disruptive around the line of scrimmage and so often times, we find him moving down so he can create pressure on the quarterback."
Unlike Gildon and Williams, Sparks remains undecided on his future college home. Offers that have come in include Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, TCU, and Tulsa. Arizona State, Oklahoma, and Texas A&M have recently shown interest, according to Sparks.
The first-team all-district junior registered 102 tackles and two interceptions as a junior. He plans to go to TCU for an unofficial visit on March 27 and was recently at Tulsa.
The Warriors' quarterback, Russell Bellomy, has shown his skills in two sports with both baseball and football. However, after dedicating himself to the weight room, the 6-3, 178-pounder, is seeing colleges show increased interest heading into the spring.
Over spring break, Bellomy says he plans to visit several schools including Florida, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Oregon, Purdue, and Tulsa.
"He's been a terrific baseball player and this year at the end of football season, said to me 'Coach for me to accomplish my goals and for us as a team to accomplish our goals, I think I need to spend my time in the weight room,'" Wager said about Bellomy. "He's gained about 15 pounds, grew an inch and then went out a tested on a cold rainy day where he ran a 4.61 40 (yard dash). He throws very well on the run, he's got a 4.1 GPA and so just from that standpoint alone, we put a lot on him. He's got great football savvy and that aptitude helps in telling everyone else where to go too."