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RCS Texas: Talent pool runs deep

Dallas JacksonClick MORE: Rivals Camp Series presented by Under ArmourHere to view this Link. is the National Columnist for Rivals.com. Email him your comments or story ideas to DallasJ@Yahoo-Inc.comClick MORE: Rivals Camp Series presented by Under ArmourHere to view this Link. and follow him on TwitterClick MORE: Rivals Camp Series presented by Under ArmourHere to view this Link..
HOUSTON -- The axiom "everything is bigger in Texas" certainly proved true last weekend at the Rivals Camp Series presented by Under Armour -- especially the talent pool.
The Lone Star State played host to a two-day, two-city
Rivals Camp Series.
The stops in Houston and Dallas made up the third and fourth dates in the 15-city tour, and there was plenty of talent on hand as some of the best from Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas made the trip.
Many players who were expected to showcase their ability did, but according to Rivals.com Southwest regional analyst Jason Howell, one big question was answered.
"We were searching for defensive tackles from this region, and the two camps really showed a much deeper pool than we expected," Howell said. "I don't know if anything will immediately impact the rankings because the guys we already knew about were the best of the bunch, but it is really nice to see that those states have more players than I first thought.
"The places we thought we had a grasp on were strong. Louisiana is loaded at the top, and Texas players really earned a lot of respect last weekend. Arkansas and Oklahoma showed to have players that can compete with either of those two states. It was very good all around."
Howell said that Springdale (Ark.) Har-Ber defensive tackle Josh Frazier and El Dorado (Ark.) High prospect Bijhon Jackson stood out at the position. Frazier is ranked No. 90 in the Rivals100, and Jackson is No. 139 in the Rivals250.
Covington (La.) High defensive tackle Garrald McDowell was an unranked player entering the camp, but Howell said the 6-foot-3, 250-pound player was impressive.
The Houston and Dallas events for the Rivals Camp Series turned into a showcase for defensive line talent, but with nearly 450 players on four fields there were plenty of others who caught Jason Howell's eye.
QB Jarrod Heard, Denton (Texas) Guyer
"The quarterbacks had the added element of a lot of wind this weekend, so that hurt some of them. Heard was a guy who didn't seem to mind the wind, the new receivers, or the smaller windows that can trip up other players. He looked good."
DB Dylan Sumner-Gardner, West Mesquite (Texas) High
"As a safety this wasn't an event where Dylan Sumner-Gardner was expected to shine, but he was very good. He showed his coverage skills and really ran well in space."
LB Hoza Scott, La Porte (Texas) High
"Hoza came halfway through the camp and did a really good job getting up to speed quickly. He didn't warm up and go through the drills like everyone else. He came out and covered well and played in space."
TE Mavin Saunders, Houston (Texas) Kinkaid
"Mavin Saunders was a great surprise. He is raw, but you can just see how athletic he is and how much upside there is. He played receiver all afternoon and was able to run by guys. He can put on size and play the flex-tight end position and really cause mismatches."
ATH Verkedric Vaughns, Mesquite (Texas) Poteet
"Verkedric was a standout guy playing defensive back in Dallas. He is a bit under the radar compared to a lot of other guys, but he really did his thing. I think he is a good camp guy so that helps him in this setting, but he played well."
"I thought McDowell really stood out in the reps I saw of him," Howell said. "He had solid technique and was a player who came to Houston looking to make an impression and did just that."
McDowell has offers from Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas State and Ole Miss. Howell named him the No. 8 overall defensive player at the camp in his evaluations.
Class of 2015 defensive tackle Daylon Mack came to the Dallas camp with plenty of hype and delivered as the No. 1 defensive player in the post-camp analysis.
The 6-foot-2, 300-pound defensive tackle from Gladewater (Texas) High took home the positional MVP award and became the first underclassman to earn an invitation to the Rivals Five-Star Challenge.
Howell said Mack lived up to the hype that a young player with early offers from Oklahoma, TCU, Texas, Texas A&M and Texas Tech would have, but there were things that Howell said he believes need work.
"He was phenomenal, every bit the player we expected to see," Howell said. "He was strong and powerful in the middle, but he needs to work on his arsenal of moves. He is still primarily a bull-rush player without much of a rip or swim move.
"He wasn't stopped much of the day with just the bull rush so it is hard to fault him for not going away from it, but eventually he is going to go against guys just as big and strong as he is and he will need to get some diversity in his game."
While the interior of the line was a pleasant surprise, the defensive end group was perhaps the strongest of the weekend.
Howell said the position has an advantage in the one-on-one sessions -- especially for edge rushers -- but he still came away impressed by many players on the weekend.
Possibly the player who shined the brightest on the weekend was Davon Godchaux of Plaquemine (La.) High.
Godchaux came into the weekend as the No. 208 player in the Rivals250 but took home the Defensive Line MVP award -- besting Gerald Willis III in the process -- and earned an invitation to the Rivals Five-Star Challenge in June.
The 6-foot-4, 245-pound strongside defensive end used his speed much of the afternoon to attack players.
"(The coaches) were going on one a lot, so I started getting off even faster," Godchaux said. "If I jumped the count, it was OK because then I got to see the other guy's go-to move and I could set him up for the next snap."
A four-star prospect, Godchaux said that getting an invitation to the series-ending event was his goal for the day and that he wanted to size himself up against the best from other spots in the country.
"I don't know if Da'Shawn Hand or Andrew Brown is better than me," he said. "I want to see them up close and see what they have and what I have."
The opportunity to have the best lining up against the best is something that high school football analysts want to see as well.
Howell said he takes his time to look for players with complete games.
One such player who showed a lot of versatility was Willis, the New Orleans (La.) Edna Karr defensive end.
The No. 42 player in the Rivals100 figured to be one of the players whom people wanted to line up against. He routinely dispatched with those who challenged him.
Howell took notice of how he did it.
"Gerald isn't a speed guy," Howell said. "He doesn't use a get-off as much as a lot of other guys at his position, but he was very strong. He was able to beat guys with a lot of different techniques, and even when he slid down he could make plays.
"I think he won most all of his reps. I know a lot of offensive lineman wanted to go against him and not many fared very well."
That sentiment wrapped up the weekend for Howell as the defensive players really took the day.
"There was a lot of highly rated talent coming to the camp from the line,so some of it was to be expected, but not all of it," Howell said. "You never know how a guy or a group of guys will look, so for the defensive line group to look so good is good for the region because there are a lot of schools looking for linemen in this class."
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