CEDAR HILL, Texas - If you walk through the halls of the athletic complex at Cedar Hill High School, you'll notice a wall of photos that seemingly gets larger by the year. That wall contains former Cedar Hill Longhorn stars in their college uniforms, most of which are at major programs around the country.
Of course everyone expects big classes like that of 2007 that included double-digit Division I signees and a state championship in the fall of 2006. Head coach Joey McGuire says that there is plenty of talent to keep an eye on in the future and his youngest group may be the best collectively since that talented class several years ago.
"In '06 and last year, those two classes, you're not going to have that ever year," McGuire said. "Having say 12, or seven and eight Division I football players. But, you're going to have two, three or four. Then you're going to have a number of Division II guys and junior college guys. This year's class (2011) and next year's class (2012), they kind of remind me of Thomas Ashcraft's class (2009) - you know where you're going to have two-four Division I guys, or maybe five depending on what somebody does during t heir senior year possibly."
One 2011 prospect has already added his first scholarship offers and that is Cedar Hill's quarterback Driphus Jackson. Rice and Tulsa have sent offers already, according to Jackson.
The 6-foot, 175-pounder plays quarterback, but colleges are looking at him for a number of different positions.
"I think there are some places he can definitely play quarterback because he's so athletic, so intelligent and he's a winner," McGuire said. "He's 24-3 as a starter and has lost four games in three years during his high school career. So he has a lot of intangibles. I also think there are some people, depending on the school and what they want, there are some teams that like him at other positions. Tulsa likes me as a safety and there are some teams that have talked about receiver."
Wide receivers Lovett Gibson is also starting to see college interest heat up. The 6-2, 180-pounder reports interest from the likes of Arizona State, Baylor, Iowa, Kansas, Kansas State, Nebraska, and Texas Tech.
"I think Lovett is going to be big time," McGuire said. "Lovett is Dezmon Briscoe. Because of the style of offense that we played last year, we had Ben Malena and Mason Hayes, it probably hurt not only Driphus' numbers, but some of our receivers numbers. Luckily, we have very unselfish kids.
"[Lovett] is a leaper, he can really run.. Tulsa likes him a lot, Texas A&M I've talked to them about him, Arkansas likes him a lot, Nebraska coach (Tim) Beck who recruited Briscoe at Kansas has shown interest in him. He's going to be a kid that I think is going to explode."
The comparison to Briscoe has a lot to do with the timing of how things unfolded for the future Kansas star. While waiting on a test score, interest was slow. Once the score was in, Briscoe's recruiting process took off according to McGuire. Lovett plans to take the test in March, April and May and has done well in the classroom. Spring could be a big time for Lovett to begin his climb towards a long list of offers.
McGuire also noted that two of his defensive ends will be starting their varsity careers this spring. Those two are Jude Akpunku and Corey Feagin. McGurie notes that Akpunku ran a 4.62 during testing recently and is listed at 6-3, 215 pounds. Linebacker/defensive end prospect Xavier Warren is also one to keep an eye on going into the fall.
Replacing Malena and Hayes at running back, will be several guys including Ronnie Green at 5-8, 175 pounds. Wide receiver Brian Reed is one that McGuire says he's "excited" about after moving in from Texarkana Liberty Eylau.
In the 2012 class, there are plenty of other notable prospects.
Offensively, a pair of wide receivers in Andre Anderson and Shelton Jones will draw looks as will junior-to-be running back Robert Lowe. Defensively, defensive back Deonte Lockett is another prospect McGuire says will draw college looks as he gets into his junior season this fall.
However, this year's freshman class who are heading into their sophomore years is the one that McGuire really is expecting big things from.
"We were talking about the '06 football team… this group is similar as far as having a shot to have multiple Division I [signees]," McGuire explained about the 2013 group. "We've got a quarterback - Damion Hobbs who's 6-2, 195 pounds. "A receiver Brandon Harris is about 6-1 already and at 185 (pounds). We have another running back Laquvionte Gonzalez (5-10, 170) who high jumped 6-8 this summer going into his freshman year of summer track.
"He reminds me a lot William Cole athletically - he's really explosive. There is (defensive back) Isaiah Lewis who is Mason Hayes' little brother."
Overall, McGuire who has coached countless Division I prospects is expecting this group to be special.
"That group, if they stay healthy, they progress and work hard - you're talking about a group that has six, seven, eight, or nine Division I kids in that one group."