Houston St. Pius X coach Rene Ramirez knew what he was doing when he took the Panthers' head coaching job. After coach Robin Kirk left to take the Hidalgo (Texas) High School post, St. Pius targeted Ramirez who had three state championships at Dallas' Bishop Lynch High School.
Ramirez did his research and saw an immediate chance to win with the likes of five Division I caliber athletes roaming the halls. His new defensive end (Greg Daniels) had just committed to the University of Texas when he arrived, but he has begun helping Kirk Poston, Venric Mark, Cody Kaleh and junior Kolby Griffin through the process.
With Daniels already in the Longhorn fold, schools have been circling the campus for the likes of Poston and Mark, especially.
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"I coached Ryan Moates who is now with the Houston Texans, and Venric is the fastest player I've ever seen on a football field," he said. "He has tremendous hips and feet and he is looking downfield and making moves before he even gets the ball in his hands. He is going to get the ball on kicks, at running back and in the slot. I'm a screen freak, so he will get the ball in space."
Mark has shot up recruiting boards and holds offers from Vanderbilt, Rice, Arizona, Northwestern, Arizona State, North Texas, SMU, Louisiana-Lafayette, Colorado State and Miami (Ohio), Houston, Tulsa and Iowa State.
"It's been great receiving all of the offers, but I'm really liking Rice right now," he said. "Some places might have more nationally recognized football programs, but academics is my top priority."
Mark has been tearing up the private school seven-on-seven leagues and will play in the state championship tournament this week. While he has been honing his skills on the field, he is also putting time into his conditioning.
"I'm trying to get to a low 4.3 in the 40-yard dash," he said. "I've been doing a lot of leg work like squats and uphill runs to get stronger and faster."
The 6-foot-2, 235-pound Poston has offers from Kansas State, Houston, Arizona, SMU, Tulsa and Kentucky and recently camped at UCLA, which is nearing.
"What colleges love about Kirk are his hands and feet," Ramirez said. "His angles of pursuit are incredible also. He's a skill player at defensive end. He's not a boisterous kid and likes to lead by example."
Rising the charts in 2011 is defensive back Kolby Griffin, who at 6-foot-1, 185-pounds is a coveted lockdown corner.
"The University of Texas is very interested in Kolby," Ramirez said. "He has a lot of savvy and a great football IQ. He's very competitive and wants to compete against the best all the time. He's a can't-miss Division I guy next year."