Nine South-Central prospects who have impressed on film
There is no such thing as an offseason on the recruiting beat. The spring and summertime are usually reserved for in-person evaluations at spring practices, 7-on-7 and camp settings, but with the coronavirus pandemic keeping people around the world indoors, the film room has been especially busy.
In this regional notebook, we pull back the curtain on some of the newest rankings movers, shakers and new evaluations in the South Central, which encompasses Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Arkansas.
Elijah Arroyo is in pursuit of the No. 1 tight end ranking in Texas.
The Frisco (Texas) Independence tight end burst onto the scene, landing early offers from SMU and LSU in the fall and later added Miami, USC, Michigan, Penn State, TCU, Texas and Texas A&M close to the February signing day. Arroyo made unofficial trips to both Alabama and Auburn last month as well.
Arroyo debuted as a 5.5 three-star in his initial ranking, but has surfaced as one of a handful of prospects in contention for the top tight end in Texas.
As a junior, Arroyo played tight end like a flexed out wide receiver. He’s used in the slot, out wide and runs the field as well as any receiver on the field. He’s a freak athlete with elite hands, can make difficult grabs in tight spots with a tremendous catch radius and is a sharp route-runner. More importantly, he makes it look rather easy.
Arroyo is a red-zone mismatch waiting to happen and impressed with his ability to reel in contested catches downfield, not to mention make plays in the open field, but he’s also no slouch when it comes to blocking. While his high school coaches count on him to be a go-to target in the passing game, Arroyo is a sure blocker capable of making key contributions in that department.
One of the new names that surfaced out of Northeast Texas this spring was Rivercrest’s Cole Carson. Arkansas was the first to offer the prospect right on the border of the Natural State and Texas. Ole Miss, Auburn, Baylor, Vanderbilt and Mississippi State all followed suit within a matter of weeks. He’s already made unofficial trips to both Arkansas and TCU and first-year Razorbacks coach Sam Pittman may have stumbled upon a true diamond in the rough.
Carson easily stands out on his high school tape. He’s a bull in a china shop with his 6-foot-6 frame and easily tramples his competition. Carson plays both guard and tackle for Rivercrest’s run-heavy offense and has the size and power combination to dominate at the point of attack. He’s a stout run-blocker with the capacity to reach multiple levels of the defense and has the athleticism and power to clear a path while on the run.
Physically, Carson is long with a fantastic wingspan and explodes out of his stance. He debuted as a high three-star on Rivals as we hope to gain a better evaluation of his pass protection and his play against better competition before the end of the cycle.
For now, Carson is an intriguing offensive tackle much like Garrett Hayes was around this time a year ago at Athens (Texas) High School. Hayes finished as a Rivals250 tackle.
Keon Coleman’s stock has taken off of late. He’s added offers from Kentucky, Florida State, Michigan State and Texas A&M and was supposed to visit LSU before the coronavirus canceled on-campus visits for the foreseeable future.
We do not have exact track times for Coleman, but he’s a 6-foot-4, 185-pound dual-sport athlete who managed 35 receptions for 1,200 yards and 22 touchdowns as a junior at Opelousas (La.) Catholic. That’s good for almost 35 yards per catch. Coleman also averaged better than 23 points per game on the basketball court as a sophomore and has scholarship offers on that front, too.
Coleman earned a high three-star rating without an in-person evaluation due to his ability to run the field with what appears to be a good combination of size and speed. He thrives at winning contested balls and shines brightest in red-zone scenarios. Coleman is also dangerous after the catch with a strong showing as a yards-after-catch threat with the ability to leap over defenders in the open field, impressive agility to keep would-be tacklers off-balance, outstanding vertical and leaping skills and reliable hands.
There are some areas Coleman will need to shore up like his release and route-running, but he’s a highly-skilled, raw prospect that found himself on the four-star bubble entering the spring.
With the coronavirus pandemic forcing coaches to spend added time in the film room, some more coaches have grown familiar with Oklahoma athlete Kendal Daniels, who is furthering his reputation as one of the best safeties in the 2021 crop and is making the race for the top player in the Sooner state a bit lopsided.
Georgia, Auburn, Florida State, LSU, Alabama and Clemson have each offered Daniels in the past month, and for obvious reasons. Daniels is a 6-foot-4, 190-pound athlete that plays both receiver and defensive back. With his combination of size and athleticism, neither position is too challenging for Daniels, who happened to find a niche at safety last fall.
Daniels is a ballhawk and generally plays power forward for his basketball team. He has an outstanding catch radius paired with the frame to out-jump and out-maneuver others for the ball. Daniels plays both offense and defense for Beggs (Okla.) High and some of the same traits that make him hard to defend as a receiver translate well to his abilities at safety.
Without question, Daniels is deserving of a major boost in the state and national picture as he looks to crack the Rivals250. An in-person evaluation is critical for the versatile safety with impressive playmaking ability and a strong physical presence.
A top playmaker in Oklahoma's 2021 class is Kendal Daniels. Nose for the football is evident through the air + in the run game. Love his offensive tape and how it'll translate to safety position. #Clemson #AllIn offered Thursday @PaulStrelowTI— Sam Spiegelman (@samspiegs) March 20, 2020
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Dematrius Davis currently ranks as the No. 170 overall prospect in America and the No. 5 dual-threat quarterback.
Davis just capped a second consecutive outstanding season for Galena Park (Texas) North Shore High School culminating in another Class 6A state championship. Davis put himself on the radar with his sophomore campaign and furthered his legacy as a junior.
Davis is currently a 5.8 four-star, but expect a bump in the next rankings update after the dual-threat proved to be an unstoppable force during the 2019 season. In the pocket, Davis showcased a strong arm with consistent accuracy and ball placement up and downfield and spot-on throws on the move. Even more impressive was his ability to improvise, move in and around the pocket or outside the pocket and extend plays.
Davis was a smart decision-maker for North Shore last fall and with five-star Zach Evans in and out of the lineup, the quarterback was more willing to create plays with his legs, which kept defensive coordinators off-balanced throughout the year.
The Virginia Tech commitment should move closer and closer to the Rivals100 in the next rankings update.
Deuce Harmon added his fourth star in the January rankings update following the 2019 football season. Harmon was exceptional last fall, and in two in-person evaluations showed us that he is a lockdown cover corner that is not limited by his 5-foot-11 frame, but he has game-changing abilities with his physical style of play, skills in the return game and how he battles for the ball in the air.
Harmon has the ability to shadow a No. 1 receiver up and down the field, play trail technique and is technically sound enough to consistently jump routes or make plays on the ball. At his best, the newly minted four-star is a threat to take a pass back the other way. It’s also worth pointing out that he’s an electric returner and does not shy away from being physical; Harmon has blown up runners in the open field or blown up screens.
Harmon proved to be one of the best pure playmakers on the field on multiple occasions this fall and was off to a strong spring on the 7-on-7 circuit. SMU, TCU, Oklahoma State and Texas A&M are the current favorites. Look for him to crack the Rivals250 in time following another in-person evaluation.
Ketron Jackson debuted in the Rivals250 for the Class of 2021 and has maintained a steady presence as one of Texas’ premier wide receivers. The four-star is in line for a serious climb in the next rankings update as he became the unguardable No. 1 target on Royse City High School this fall after transferring from Dallas-area powerhouse Lancaster last offseason.
In the new setting where Jackson was forced to step up as the unquestioned “go-to” target, he thrived. He shined as a big, physical playmaker capable of creating his own plays after the catch. He’s a physical runner after the catch that reminds me a good deal of current LSU receiver Ja’Marr Chase coming out of high school.
He’s physical enough to make plays in the middle of the field and is athletic enough to make plays in single coverage on the outside. Royse City coaches allowed Jackson to make plays on his own and he stepped up to the challenge and then some.
Jackson has an impressive offer sheet and was high on Ohio State, Alabama and LSU early on. He named Arkansas as his leader this spring after a visit to The Hill, and then upon his return landed an interesting overture from Texas.
With the spotlight on, another in-person evaluation was needed. His film is deserving of a nice rise in-state and nationally amongst wideouts.
Kobie McKinzie revealed in February that he was on track to graduate in May of 2021 -- not 2022 -- meaning he was going to re-classify to the current recruiting class.
McKinzie instantly became a candidate to be the top-ranked linebacker in the South Central region. McKinzie has a chance to debut inside the Rivals100 or Rivals250 as we complete an evaluation on the Oklahoma commitment.
At Prime 21 last summer, McKinzie looked the part with a wide frame and good size to him already. That was before a 2019 campaign in which McKinzie made no shortage of game-breaking plays from the linebacker position. He’s a threat to pluck the ball in the air and showcased his ability to make plays as a run defender, pass-rusher or in coverage.
What stands out is the linebacker’s nose for the football and his willingness and ability to get there. Mckenzie is a natural playmaker on the defensive side of the ball and we love that he plays in the middle of the defense. Some of the plays he comes up with as a big-bodied linebacker are hard to fathom. The Sooners are adding a linebacker that’ll generate a ton of buzz in only a matter of time.
Another Lone Star State quarterback on the rise this spring has been Kaidon Salter, who made a compelling case to college coaches last season that his style of play would translate to the Power 5 level. Salter was absolutely magical when I watched him in-person last November in a second-round playoff tilt vs. Denton Guyer and his tape provided even more fuel for a rankings bump.
Salter is an unconventional passer that’s going to naturally remind folks of Randall Cunningham. Salter is gifted with a strong-enough arm to make big throws downfield and all over the field. What separates him is not just his mobility, but the ability to extend plays, beat defenders to buy time and then reset and unleash a ball 55 yards down field on-point.
Baylor, Arkansas, Florida State, Auburn, Georgia Tech, UCLA and Tennessee are just a handful of the schools that have quickly caught Salter’s attention this spring. The most interesting wrinkle here is which offensive coordinator will entice Salter and install an offense that caters to his unique set of skills.
#Baylor became the first Power 5 team to offer 2021 Cedar Hill QB Kaidon Salter on Monday— Sam Spiegelman (@samspiegs) November 26, 2019
Here's the performance at AT&T that earned him the offer@KaidonSalter_7 @Rivals @SicEmSports @TheHillTthlFB @CHLonghorns @Thamannjr
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