football Edit

Takeaways from opening weekend in Texas

Tommy Brockermeyer
Tommy Brockermeyer (Sam Spiegelman)

Football is back in Texas, as now the state's NFL, college and high school teams are all back in action.

This first weekend included matchups at Southlake Carroll, AT&T Stadium, All Saints and Globe Life Field. Here are some observations from an action-packed weekend.


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CLASS OF 2021 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Position | Team | State

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COVERAGE: Rivals Transfer Tracker | Rivals Camp Series



DeSoto and Carroll clashed in a a star-studded scrimmage and regional playoff round rematch in a showdown that featured five-star quarterback Quinn Ewers, Rivals250 defensive end Shemar Turner, wide receivers committed to Minnesota, Texas Tech and Arkansas, and a host of talented underclassmen.

Let’s begin with Ewers, who justified his position as the nation’s top 2022 quarterback with a brilliant performance against a loaded DeSoto defense. Ewers opened the game with a dime downfield to speedy Minnesota pledge Brady Boyd and looked at his newest weapon, RJ Maryland, often.

Ewers threaded the needle for another touchdown and scored a third with his legs, an area of his game that oft gets overlooked. This is just Ewers’ second season as Carroll’s QB1, but with a commitment to Texas out of the way, he seems focused, confident and has a business-like approach. This offense should provide fireworks week in and week out.

Turner was a force for DeSoto, spending snaps inside at tackle and at the 4- and 5-technique. But no matter where he lined up, Turner made his presence felt. He set the edge in the run game, made plays in the backfield and put pressure on Ewers, including a sack.

Turner has improved every season at DeSoto and his senior year should be his best to date. From a recruiting angle, he indicated all five of his finalists — Alabama, Texas, Georgia, Texas A&M and LSU — all remain in play. Some close to Turner insist he’s likely to remain in-state, which is one of the biggest recruiting storylines left in this 2021 cycle.

Elsewhere, we’ve heard a lot of buzz about a busy offseason for Illinois quarterback commitment Samari Collier. The fruits of that labor showed as Collier was more composed, more accurate and more productive with his new-look receiving corps. Jerand Bradley provided Collier with a big-framed, sure-handed target while Arkansas commitment Jaedon Wilson also boasts good size and vertical speed to get downfield. Perhaps the biggest difference-maker in this offense is 2023 receiver Johntay Cook, who is a YAC specialist and made a handful of plays in space.

Another prospect to point out is Colorado State cornerback commitment Lathan Adams. At 5-foot-11, Adams made it a point to be physical with receivers and managed to force and recover a fumble during the scrimmage. Power Five programs are beginning to flirt with Adams, who projects as a speedy nickel at the next level.


The weekend headliner featured two of the most talent-laden squads in the Metroplex in Ryan and Martin, who squared off at AT&T Stadium. Ryan was short Rivals100 defensive tackle Keithian Alexander, more affectionately known as “Big Bear,” who’s the No. 15-ranked prospect in the 2022 class.

Ryan features a pair of Rivals100 commitments in Ja’Tavion Sanders and Billy Bowman, both of whom are committed to Texas. Sanders was the easy MVP of this affair, making game-changing plays on both sides of the ball evident by seven catches for 122 yards and two scores, and a game-sealing pick-six. Sanders was twitchy on offense and was a force with the ball in his hands, but less consistent pressuring the quarterback. Sanders was a second away from a sack on multiple occasions, but didn’t finish.

Bowman enters the fall right in the thick of the five-star conversation. For a prospect as productive as Bowman on both sides of the ball and special teams, it was another day in the office. He scored Ryan’s first touchdown as he separated on a crossing routes in the end zone and was a consistent chain-mover on bubble screens and short routes all game long.

Bowman and Sanders committed to the Longhorns last summer and fall, respectively, and they faced fellow 2021 classmate Morice Blackwell of Martin, who was all over the field anchoring the defense from his linebacker spot. Blackwell made stops in the backfield, out in space, dropped back into coverage and got after the quarterback. Blackwell can wear multiple hats in Texas’ defense and his stock is on the rise as he dives into his senior campaign.


For the first time in two years, Tommy Brockermeyer returned to the field and was able to level a player wearing a different jersey or with a last name other than his. The five-star Alabama offensive tackle commitment was exceptional in his first action back at left tackle, managing a handful of pancakes in the run game and in pass protection, getting out and blocking in space in the run game and keeping his quarterback upright.

Brockermeyer missed the entire 2019 season after undergoing surgery to repair his shoulder last summer. Back healthy, he hasn’t missed a beat.

“My shoulder felt perfect,” Brockermeyer told Rivals after All Saints’ 70-50 victory over Azle. “My whole body felt good. It felt amazing! You have no idea.”

With Tommy back at left tackle, James was able to slide back to center and was consistent there as well. James now has experience playing multiple positions up front and even saw some snaps along the defensive front — and was productive there, too.

With two healthy Brockermeyers up front, it was a career day for all-purpose back Montaye Dawson, who transferred to All Saints in the offseason. The SMU commitment piled up 330 yards on 14 carries and found the end zone four times in the Week 1 tune-up.

Dawson doesn’t wow you with his frame, but he’s twitchy, explosive and blends that deserved balance of being both quick and fast. He’s a threat to score from anywhere on the field and bears resemblance to former Kansas State star Darren Sproles. SMU is in line to add one of the best players in all of the Metroplex.


Speaking of the best in the Metroplex, it’s time to insert JoJo Earle into the five-star conversation as well. Earle is a jack-of-all-trades with elite speed and acceleration and is one of the best with the ball in his hands in space. After seeing some more aspects of Earle’s game — his ability to make difficult grabs along the sidelines, absorb contact and get open from multiple positions — it’s becoming more and more clear that Earle is deserving of being a top-50 prospect in the country at the least.

If you were to make a comparison, names like Tyreek Hill, Jaylen Waddle, even Christian McCaffery all come to mind. What Earle lacks in size he makes up with burst and playmaking ability. He scored twice through the air and a third time on the ground. The LSU commitment should be considered the favorite to be the Player of the Year in the Lone Star State.

Aledo scored 70 points while limiting Weatherford to a single score thanks in part to Rivals250 safety Bryan Allen Jr., who like Earle is committed to the Tigers. Allen showed good range and physicality, delivering massive blows throughout the contest. Schools like Oklahoma and Texas are still recruiting the junior defensive back and Auburn is also beginning to push for Allen.


... There’s a host of household names on the Denton Ryan defense, but oft-overlooked is Houston commitment Ty Marsh. Marsh, who on the roster is listed as a safety, is a new-age STAR that combines the skill-sets of a safety, outside linebacker and nickel. Marsh plays with a chip on his shoulder, darting downfield on special teams, making great tackles in the open field with the ability to pressure quarterbacks and make big defensive splash plays.

... Ernest Cooper debuted as a Rivals250 defensive end in the initial 2022 rankings, but had a quiet opening game for Martin. On a defense littered with talent, Cooper is counted on to set the edge in the run game and put heat on opposing quarterbacks, but struggled against a Ryan offensive line that was up to the task. Cooper had a few solid rushes, but was largely taken out of the equation.

... Baylor commitment Cicero Caston was the main bright spot for Weatherford in the season opener on Saturday. Caston was all over the field while easily piling up double-digit stops, putting him on track to potentially surpass his 80 stops from last season. He also accounted for the team's lone touchdown, flashing his impressive vertical jump in the process.

... In the first live viewing of Eric McAlister, the Boise State commitment was the driving force of a high-octane Azle offense. McAlister is every bit of his 6-foot-4, 190-pound frame. He has a massive catch radius and catches everything throw his way. He proved to be a good vertical threat and red-zone option.

New names surface

There were plenty of notable names on the docket to watch this weekend, but that also opens the door for some sleepers and new underclassmen to monitor.

Carroll unveiled RJ Maryland, who should be one of — if not — Ewers’ top targets in the passing game. At 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds, Maryland saw snaps at wide receiver, in the slot and could wind up sticking at receiver or growing into a tight end.

Maryland is the son of former Miami star and Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Russell Maryland. He showed off excellent hands, playmaking ability with the rock and the ability to win in single coverage. It’s early, but this is a double-digit offer-level pass-catcher.

One of the biggest problems for teams facing Denton Ryan is the way the coaches use Sanders and Bowman to make plays on both sides of the ball. Martin countered with a sophomore.

Javien Toviano, a 2023 cornerback that measures in at 6-foot-1 and 185 pounds with 4.4 speed, has certainly emerged as an underclassman squarely on the radar. Like any defensive back guarding the 6-foot-4 Sanders, it wasn’t perfect, but Toviano showed mental toughness by bouncing back and recorded multiple pass break-ups throughout the game. He has great closing speed and flashed on special teams and in the return game as well.

DeSoto’s passing game is going to draw headlines, but it’s two-headed rushing attack also impressed. Junior Robert Richardson boasts 10.9-second 100-meter speed and was a slasher in the team’s tune-up. Senior Elijah Williams spelled Richardson and served as the thunder to Richardson’s lighting. With a broad frame and more physical running style, Williams was a bowling ball bouncing off defenders for solid gains. Both are Division I-caliber prospects.