In modern defensive football, range is everything. Some
players manufacture it with intelligence. Some manufacture it with speed. Truly
fortunate players have it thanks to both. If you’re Whitehouse 2015 athlete Justin Dunning, you can even add the prototypical long frame.
But, prototypical for what?
Football’s the obvious answer, but at what position? At this
point, it doesn’t matter, but as a high school safety, Dunning showed center
field ability and ball skills typical of a safety, while also having the frame
and striking ability to project to linebacker. Next year, you can add wide
receiver to his resume.
Welcome to East Texas.
East Texas: Texas’
own little version of SEC country, where athletes are big, move fast and are
ferocious. In a state known for quality of football, this quadrant likely has
the best player per capita ratio. What it lacks in 5A star power, it more than
makes up with 2A gems. In the case of Dunning, Whitehouse is a 4A school with a
growing list of alums.
Oklahoma budding star Trey Metoyer hails from Whitehouse, as
does Metoyer’s classmate Quincy Aldridge, who attends TCU. They made for quite
the duo as seniors in 2011. The year 2013 produced Texas Tech wide receiver
commit Dylan Cantrell, a player that is way too far under-appreciated as far as
I’m concerned. That’s a nice run of consecutive talent, better than 1600
Pennsylvania, for Whitehouse, but the run isn’t over. The 2014 class will
produce Patrick Mahomes, the East Texas version of Dave Winfield with his
ability to star in football, baseball and basketball. Mahomes may be the best
quarterback in the state, and yes, I’m including Jerrod Heard.
Normally I wouldn’t go further than that at this point in
the year, but even though Justin Dunning’s sophomore year just ended, I’m
perfectly comfortable mentioning him with the talents above.
I don’t know what position Dunning will play in college, but
that uncertainty is far surpassed by my certainty that he’ll play somewhere in
college, and play it well.
He’s big, he’s fast, he’s instinctive. You should like
Dunning too, he’s the type of athlete that makes us all qualified talent
“I knew Justin Dunning would be special when he was a
sophomore!” – everyone
While college interest is only beginning to bubble, 212
degrees is sure to happen by the time spring evaluations begin. To this point
Dunning has only received questionnaires in the mail (two of them being from
Texas and LSU) and a junior day invite to SMU. Here’s a hint for you hardcore
recruiting fans, if SMU is offering early, pay attention. They know what they’re
doing and early interest is out of necessity, but they know exactly what
they’re looking at.
Dunning tells me he grew up liking Texas and visited Texas
A&M this year. Those two schools comprise his top two.
The 6-3, 190-pound athlete also plays basketball and was a
regional qualifier in hurdles as a freshman. Next year he’ll play some wide
receiver as well and could become Mahomes’ next Cantrell.
While I admit it’s a bit premature to talk about 2015
players, if Dunning continues to work he’ll be in the UT offer conversation
before he plays another down of UIL football. Remember, about this time last
year I was talking about the Nick Harvey’s and Hoza Scott’s of the world.