football

Texas region brings big speed

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The Golden Triangle of Texas has produced dozens of NFL athletes, including Bubba Smith, Jerry Ball and Joe Washington from years past. Bum Phillips, Jimmy Johnson, R.C. Slocum and Texas offensive coordinator Greg Davis also hail from the Triangle.
The Golden Triangle, which includes Beaumont, Port Arthur and Orange, Texas, is busting with Division I talent. Of late, that talent has a common characteristic -- track speed.
The University of Texas has already tapped into this year's crop of southeast Texas talent, receiving verbals from West Orange Stark's Earl Thomas and Ozen's Ben Wells. The Longhorns also picked up lineman Jerrod Gooch from Vidor High School.
"There is just so much speed in this area," Beaumont Central coach Donald Stowers said. "A lot of kids run track, which helps."
Stowers knows speed, having started for New Mexico State during the 1990s at defensive back. He also participated in the NFL combine and played in NFL Europe.
Leading the area in speed this year is Beaumont Ozen, which is anchored in the secondary by Wells, who had six picks last year.
Joining Wells is Ryan Clark, a 6-1, 188-pound athlete. Clark had five interceptions on defense, returns kicks and is used as a wide receiver. The 4.4 speedster was an all-district and all-region selection.
"I depend on my speed," Clark said. "I try and imitate Teddy Ginn of Ohio State. I love their program and would love to play there."
Moving from defensive back to quarterback is London Durham, a 6-1, 170-pound sleeper emerging from Wells' shadow.
"He's a sub-4.4 kid," Ozen quarterback coach John Clayton said. "I saw him run down Deon Beasley last year from behind when he was playing cornerback. That's what kind of speed he has. He's an athlete on the Division I level."
Wide-out Ronnie Fontenot (6-0, 170-pounds) is also a Division I prospect who excels at the high jump and sprint relays for the Ozen track squad.
Beaumont Westbrook also has their share of speed. Headlining their prospects are Joe Chaisson, Billy Chavis (6-4, 220-pounds) and cat-quick defensive end Jacodi Coleman.
"Chaisson in a glider at 6-3, 180-pounds," Westbrook coach Craig Stump said. "He'll brake a 60-yard and make it look easy. Chavis is physical, fast and aggressive. He wants to try out strong safety this year."
"And for Jacodi, this is his time," he said. He'll just get bigger and faster over the next couple of months to be our rush end."
Chaisson has been officially offered by Indiana and the others will have several offers by the summer.
One of the more decorated track schools in the Triangle is Beaumont Central. After a 1-9 showing in 2005, Stowers got Central back on track last year, reaching the playoffs and going undefeated in district.
A big part of the resurgence was the development of quarterback Brandon Williams -- a 6-4, 210-pound prospect.
"I haven't seen many kids around here or in Houston like Brandon," Stowers said. "He can run by people and is pretty accurate with his passing. He's a little overlooked right now."
Texas A&M has verbally offered Williams, who also runs track and plays basketball.
"I like Texas A&M, Texas and Oklahoma," he soft-spoken Williams said. "I want to play quarterback in college and will be looking to improve at some camps and combines this summer."
On defense, Central's Pharius Haynes (6-3, 210-pounds) anchors the front seven.
"He has the speed to play outside linebacker in college," Stowers said.
Attention college scouts, a speed trap has been set in the Golden Triangle.
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