As defensive coordinator at Bixby High School in Oklahoma, D.J. Howell has seen plenty of big-time recruits over years. He's helped guide Bixby to a 40-11 record in the four years that he was there and two appearances in state championship game, so there's no question he knows what a solid prospect looks like.
And now that he's the new head coach at Fort Gibson, Okla., he feels like he's found something really special.
"I think I have one of the best kept secrets in Oklahoma, but the secret isn't going to stay that way for too long," Howell said. "Once people see this kid in person, he's going to be one of the most heavily recruited players in the state."
That kid is Courtney Gaston, a 6-foot-4, 230-pound heat-seeking missile of a linebacker.
"He's legit," Howell said. "He can run. I had some D-I kids at Bixby, but this kid is the best I've seen. If he doesn't blow up, then I'm going to be very, very surprised."
Gaston is a very good all-around athlete. Howell said he saw Gaston put down 28 points last week in a basketball game and his speed and athleticism pop off the screen when you watch tape.
"You should see him out there on the court running around like he's a 180-pound guy," Howell said. "He runs so well for a big guy. Last year he was inside and made a lot of plays running sideline-to-sideline, but we're going to stand him up, put him on the outside and let him put pressure on the edge."
Howell said he measures up favorably to former three-star prospect Jared Glover, who signed with Oklahoma State in 2007 after turning down offers from Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Colorado, Kansas State, Michigan and Nebraska.
"There is no comparison if you ask me," Howell said. "Courtney can do so many different things and is a much better athlete than Jared and a lot of the other guys I've worked with."
Early on only mail is coming on for Gaston, but that is likely to chance once schools see him in person.
"Once the word gets out, then look out," Howell said. "This kid is going to blow up."