There are plenty of prospects every year at Lufkin (Texas) High School. The 2007 class isn't any different. Though many people are well aware of top prospects like Dez Bryant and Jeremy Claybon, it's a defensive end/linebacker prospect named A.J. Penson getting all the notice as of late.
The 6-foot-1, 215-pounder puts his hand down for Lufkin, but will most likely be a linebacker according to coach John Outlaw. There have been several top prospects come out of the tradition-rich halls of the East Texas school and Outlaw doesn't see Penson being any different.
"It's probably because he had to play with his hand down, and at one time, he was opposite a pretty good one with McKinner Dixon who lined up on the other side. I don't know exactly why he may not have had all the early attention but A.J. is an awful fine person and a high character kid. Plus, he's a great football player."
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Penson says that while he would like to play linebacker at the next level, he'll play wherever the college coaches put him. Options are already mounting on the recruiting front with schools like UTEP, Iowa State, and Houston telling him to expect an offer in the mail.
Nebraska, Texas A&M, and Rice have verbally offered him at this time.
"I haven't talked to all of the schools, so I don't know if I have any big favorites," Penson said. "I think A&M is a good school though. I visited down there because we have teammates that have gone there. I want to visit Oklahoma State though and see what they have to offer."
Of course, lately, all of the hype has been surrounding wide receiver Bryant. Outlaw says that he'd put his star receiver in the same category of former top players like Reggie McNeal.
His work in the classroom looks to be paying off and is making his recruiting process move along even faster
"He had some issues, but he's been in summer school taking care of his business," Outlaw said. "Right now he's got a chance but he knows that no one is going to do it for him.
"He's in Reggie's category. He's an NFL guy - there is no doubt about it. I can't predict the future but he's an unusual guy to be this talented at this age. He's a big time wide receiver."
The Lufkin team has also been predicted to take home the 5A state tile this year. Senior Penson likes the all the talk.
"It's us," Penson said. "There is always going to pressure because we're at the top but that's how I see my team. We're a great group, we can pull through it all. We were only one game away last year, so we've got to finish and play hard. We'll accomplish the goal. I think that we're the team to beat this year."