HEMPSTEAD, Texas - First-year coach Ricky Sargent resurrected the once-proud program of Class 3A Hempstead (Texas) this season with a 6-3 record and an overdue playoff appearance.
Much of his bare bones roster played both ways as underclassmen, and two of his athletes have blossomed under his guidance and will be Division I prospects as seniors. One has already garnered a big-time offer.
Terrance Toliver (6-foot-5, 190 pounds) had six receiving touchdowns over 500 yards in receptions and returned two kicks for touchdowns, earning him unanimous first-team, all-district honors. Schools from Texas A&M, which is 60-miles down the road, to Notre Dame have taken notice.
"Texas A&M has offered Terrance and Notre Dame's Michael Haywood has already been down to visit," Sargent said. "Everybody will be looking at him. He's a good basketball player also, but his future is in football.
"I am going to sit down with him before the Christmas break and make him aware of his opportunities. I want to get a feel of what he wants to do and line him up to start taking the tests," he said.
While Toliver is the headliner at Hempstead, running back Chris Tate's versatility should play him in to an offer as well. Tate won the district's 100-meter race as a sophomore and should only improve on his time this year.
"Chris has good size and terrific speed," Sargent said. "He is already receiving interest and can play running back, wide receiver or defensive back in college. His speed really sets him apart."
Sargent has turned the small Texas town upside down with the team's winning season in 2005 and he has seen the community and student interest increase dramatically.
"I was very pleasantly surprised by this season," he said. "It was one of those magical years. I've already seen a lot of kids from the halls not in the program start moving their schedules around to get into football. That's exciting for us."
Who knows what other college talent might be hiding in Hempstead's hallways.