What makes a 5-star recruit? Considering the top Texas talents in 2021 and 2022

Ian Boyd

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I’ve found over the years a “5-star” football prospect is typically a player with elite athleticism in their designated position. If you have 4.4 speed at cornerback, it’s a maybe, but if you project to safety or linebacker with 4.4 speed then you have a great chance at getting the 5th star from the service rankings. The 6-4, 300 pound defensive lineman who has 10+ sacks and great edge-rushing film is also often getting a 5-star designation. “Look at this guy, elite edge with 50 extra pounds!”

Another occasion where you’ll see a 5-star designation awarded is when a player is more of a pure athlete than a specific sort of football player. Texas has been in on several such players over the last few seasons.

Jordan Whittington played wide receiver, safety, and wildcat quarterback for Cuero high school while guiding his team to a State Championship. What position does he play in college? Texas is still working it out while trying to get him consistently healthy, but when he was a senior in high school his theoretically wide open future was a plus. At Texas it’s been more of a problem thus far.

Ditto Bru McCoy, who had nice film as both a sort of possession receiver AND an edge rusher. He didn’t necessarily look elite in either regard, but as a 230 pound true athlete with potential in either direction, he got a 5th star almost as a hedge. An illness forced a redshirt from McCoy and he’s beginning to translate his general athleticism and ball skills into a wide receiver spot with the Air Raid USC Trojans now.

Ja’Tavion Sanders is the newest of this tradition. At 6-3, 240 with above average quickness, flypaper hands, and some edge rushing film he tends to get the benefit of the doubt as a guy who could become either a tight end or outside linebacker/end. Would he be a 5-star if his film only included him in one of those roles? Less clear, but he has some elite attributes you would want to see in an NFL draft pick and could theoretically get there via a couple of positions.

Here’s a look at the 5-star players for the state of Texas in the 2021 class and the upcoming 2022 class and whether their rankings are due to elite projection at key positions or general athleticism.

The 2021 5-stars in Texas per the 247 composite

Tommy Brockermeyer: 6-6, 283. All Saints Episcopal HS (Fort Worth). .9979. Signed with Alabama
Brockermeyer’s dad Blake was an NFL offensive lineman after an All-American career at Texas. Tommy has a good deal of size, strength, and technical knowhow as you might guess from being the son of an NFL player and one of four sons. His twin brother James is good as well, although smaller, and heading to Alabama with him, leaving older broker Luke (walk-on linebacker) behind in Austin.

Brockermeyer is an obvious talent with obvious projection to offensive tackle and both a clear sense of how to achieve success as well as considerable oversight in the process.

Ja’Tavion Sanders: 6-4, 240. Denton Ryan HS (North Dallas). .9933. Signed with Texas
Sanders was dominant for an overpowering Denton Ryan team also boasting 4-star wide receiver Billy Bowman, 4-star defensive tackle Bear Alexander, and some other high level talents. Denton Ryan had more blue chip talent on this team than the majority of the programs in the Big 12.

Anyways, Sanders could be a great tight end in Sarkisian’s offense or a great Jack linebacker for Pete Kwiatkowski but he might be a 5-star more for the multiple paths than his projection in any one spot.

Donovan Jackson: 6-5, 308. Episcopal HS (Houston). .9902. Signed with Ohio State
Jackson is athletic, bendy, and powerful with ready-made size for the college game. He’s listed as a guard and I’m not sure why because his wingspan is that of a 6-10 man. It’s not super common to see a player with his reach, athleticism, and size out of high school so all those tools make for an obvious 5-star stamp.

Shemar Turner: 6-4, 282. DeSoto HS (South Dallas). .9879. Signed with Texas A&M
Lightning quick and powerful off the ball at 6-4, 282, Turner checks all the physical boxes for a defensive lineman prospect. DeSoto used him everywhere. In limited senior highlights you can see him drop better than many linebackers into zone coverage before running down a scrambling quarterback and turn the corner on an offensive tackle when lined up at defensive end. He runs around like a linebacker at 6-4, 280, there’s not much else to be said. I suspect he’ll end up replacing DeMarvin Leal at A&M’s crucial strongside end position in 2022.

Camar Wheaton: 5-11, 190. (East Dallas) .9836. Signed with Alabama
Wheaton is a lightning fast athlete who’s been clocked at 10.6 in the 100m and he’s a solid running back on film. Honestly though, this one doesn’t make a great deal of sense. The jump cuts and top speed are great, the numbers aren’t actually particularly amazing though and I wonder how effective he is at breaking tackles and managing tacklers when he doesn’t have as much space to operate in.

There seems to be too much excitement to give out a 5th star to running backs with elite level quickness (Zach Evans, Jase McClellan, Jonathan Gray) regardless of whether they have proven skill at finding lanes and picking up gains when they aren’t operating in wide open space in a spread concept. It’s a different ball game when finding the same level of open space as high school first requires being able to break an arm tackle from a guy like Shemar Turner, or dealing with a safety who can cut off angles.

No one will be surprised if/when these five guys are successful in college, I actually think Brockermeyer, Jackson, and Turner are the players though who are most likely to translate their awesome athleticism into results for their college programs though.

The 2022 5-stars in Texas per the 247 composite

Quinn Ewers: 6-3, 195. Southlake Carroll HS (North Dallas). 1.000. Committed to Ohio State
Ewers is the highest rated prospect in history, obviously, since his score is perfect. The suggestion from his score is he’s totally without flaws for a high school quarterback prospect. It seems a bit much, but it is hard to find many holes in his game worth making any real stink over.

If I had to nitpick, I’d circle in on his lack of elite escapability and athleticism as a runner. He’s not going to Vince Young or Kyler Murray a team to a title. Ewers is the best high school passer I’ve ever seen though and his ceiling in college would be as a force multiplier in an offense with a good offensive line and play-action passing game, setting him up to throw open double moves down the field. If he can do that, he’ll put up Sam Bradford type numbers and his team will score 50 points per game. If you need someone to erase mistakes from the offensive line and call his own shots? He won’t be elite there, although I suspect he’ll be able to deal out a great deal of damage with even sporadic protection.

Obviously he’s a quarterback, this is a generational thrower.

Denver Harris: 6-1, 180. North Shore HS (Houston). .9944. Uncommitted
Harris plays press-man coverage in the ultimate press-man defense at North Shore. He has elite athleticism and he’s getting a lot of excellent instruction and very difficult reps (both in practice and in the games) playing press-man coverage in 6A ball for the perennially contending North Shore Mustangs.

This is a no brainer, it’s hard to find guys who can flip their hips and run with top wide receivers with Harris’ length and size. Usually you’re giving up something on one end of the equation.

Devon Campbell: 6-4, 295. Bowie HS (Arlington). .9937. Uncommitted
Much like Donovan Jackson, if you are rating a player as a guard and calling him a 5-star it feels more like you’re saying “I’m pretty sure he’s going to be a guard in the NFL” than really projecting them to play guard in college. At 6-4 with solid reach and elite athleticism, it’d be hard for even a college like Alabama or Ohio State to keep Campbell away from tackle for the duration of his career.

He’s playing right tackle and nose right now at Bowie and they’re using him for the run game. He’s a terrific overall athlete and immensely powerful at the point of attack so it’s easy enough to say “at the least, he’ll be a guard you can run behind and has NFL quality.” I don’t love the OG vs OT designations on 247 though, you shouldn’t be trying to project an NFL position for a high schooler. If he can learn to kick step he’ll play outside unless on a team with multiple other NFL athletes on the offensive line who are even better.

As it happens, I’ve seen the other top lineman within the state in this cycle and it’s not at all obvious to me Devon Campbell is the best, although any school would be thrilled to sign him.

Harold Perkins: 6-3, 200. Cy Park HS (West Houston). .9902. Uncommitted
Now things get really interesting. Perkins is pretty similar to another 5-star “linebacker” to come out of Texas in recent years, Marcel Brooks. Coming out of Flower Mound as a 6-2, 205 pounder, Brooks took his 4.4 athleticism to LSU where they had him at linebacker before transferring to TCU where Gary Patterson tried him at linebacker and edge last year before he eventually moved to wide receiver for this upcoming season. Pretty bizarre.

Perkins is also similar to Malik Jefferson, who played as a nickel linebacker in a 3-4 defense at Garland and put up sick highlights coming unblocked off the edge with unexpected speed to wreck plays for opposing offenses. Perkins is basically doing the same thing on 90% of his highlights. So what position will he play in college?

He’s similar to guys like Roy Williams or Isaiah Simmons in athletic profile, but those guys had a lot of reps at safety coming into college. Williams could fit the box from the hash mark and then they taught him to play the edge at nickel as well. Isaiah Simmons could turn and run with receivers and play man on slots. Perkins could theoretically do those things, because he’s fast, but he hasn’t had much foundation in high school games doing so, he’s just been able to fly to the ball unimpeded. Can he learn to read flow from inside linebacker and gain extra weight to hold up inside? If he does, will he still maintain the speed which makes him elite?

I understand a 4.4 sprinter who’s 6-3, 200 out of high school is an exciting canvas to paint on but I’ve seen this Robert Ross episode a few times and the painting isn’t always particularly brilliant. Will he be Gary Johnson, Baron Browning, or Tyler Owens?

Caleb Burton: 6-0, 165. Del Valle HS (Austin). .9874. Committed to Ohio State
Ohio State’s favorite pastime these days is plucking high level recruits out of Austin, if they can sign a top player from Austin it occasionally seems they relish it over poaching from anywhere else.

Burton missed his junior year with a knee injury, which complicates his projection a little, but he has freshman and sophomore film going up against quality Westlake and Lake Travis defenses so he’s certainly not a total unknown. What he’s shown so far is fantastic coordination both as a route runner and in securing catches. It’s easy for him to get open and then he’s reliable at securing the catch afterwards and making something of his opportunities with the ball in his hands in space. It’s not clear if he’ll be an elite deep threat which is what I’d want to see in order to make a receiver a 5-star, but his ability to change speeds and go get the ball suggests he probably will be. Receivers can be very hard to evaluate off high school film because they may or may not be paired with the sort of quarterback and passing game who can maximize their ability. The same issue plays out with some of these offensive linemen who’s high schools tend to put their athleticism to use in paving paths for ballcarriers rather than mastering pass protection skills.

Kelvin Banks: 6-5, 300. Summer Creek HS (North Houston). .9844
To my eyes Kelvin Banks is actually the best and most promising athlete of all the linemen in the 2022 class for Texas, which is high praise. This is a uniquely strong group for the state, possibly the best I’ve seen, but Banks is the best athlete of the bunch and probably a little further ahead with the kick step than the others.

The fact Campbell is the highest rated is indicative of how the 5-star rankings don’t always mean what you’d think. Does he have the highest chance of making a pro someday? Maybe, it’s pretty close with a lot of the in-state linemen who all appear to have pro-potential. Is he going to be the most valuable player for the college program he signs with over all the other instate linemen?

Only if he plays left tackle. A dominant guard is simply not likely to have the same impact for his team as a good left tackle.

The 5-star rankings regularly aim to identify the players who most cleanly project to playing football at the highest level because of elite-level measurables. Sometimes that means players with murky projections but outstanding talent get high ratings, sometimes it means players who won’t necessarily have a massive impact for their college program but have a good shot at translating their skills into paychecks.

The recruiting services have managed to correlate their rankings decently to NFL draft results, that in turn can tell you which teams have some of the best players and talents, but the devil is in the details. There isn’t a perfect correlation and sometimes the appraisal of elite measurables over actual utilization on the field paints the wrong picture.
 
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Where do think Sanders would be be utilized? On offense, he seems to be a match up nightmare. On defense, do he show enough potential to affect the pass game to be a difference maker? Maybe you haven't seen enough film. Would your default be to offense?
 

DuvalHorn

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I don't think ratings and stars should correlate to positional value. If a kicker can make FGs in game situations from 60+ at a high rate, then he's a 5*.
 
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Ian Boyd

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Where do think Sanders would be be utilized? On offense, he seems to be a match up nightmare. On defense, do he show enough potential to affect the pass game to be a difference maker? Maybe you haven't seen enough film. Would your default be to offense?
His default seems to be offense, so I'm guessing that's where his potential has the best chance to be realized.
 

system poster

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I don't think ratings and stars should correlate to positional value. If a kicker can make FGs in game situations from 60+ at a high rate, then he's a 5*.
It sort of puts the rating services at cross purposes with what the consumer is using them for. I think most people probably look at 247 to see how good a player may be in college, not to see what the NFL draft is going to look like in four years, which makes it strange that 247's non-composite ratings are trying to project just that.

Obviously there is going to be a lot of overlap between guys who are good in college and guys who get drafted in the first round of the draft, but it excludes a lot of players that could be major difference makers for a college program from being considered for a 5th star and would instead encourage 247 to hand out five star rankings to quarterbacks with big arms, corners, defensive ends, and offensive tackles to the exclusion of guards, safeties, and running backs.
 

Ian Boyd

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It sort of puts the rating services at cross purposes with what the consumer is using them for. I think most people probably look at 247 to see how good a player may be in college, not to see what the NFL draft is going to look like in four years, which makes it strange that 247's non-composite ratings are trying to project just that.
I have a suspicion that they've tailored it in this direction because the big argument and marketing pitch for the value of the services was their correlation to the NFL draft.
 

kevinbelt

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it excludes a lot of players that could be major difference makers for a college program from being considered for a 5th star
This is already a known bug with rankings. Ian wrote about it a few years ago; it’s how schools like Wisconsin win consistently despite only recruiting three stars and walk-one.

OSU recruits a handful of three stars every year, and the message boards erupt in mock outrage that we couldn’t land someone better. Then a voice of reason suggests looking at the three star’s offer list, and sure enough it’s like Oklahoma, LSU, Auburn, Penn State. If you want to know how good a kid is, that’s where to look. The top schools find guys even if they don’t have the stars.
 
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Ian Boyd

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This is already a known bug with rankings. Ian wrote about it a few years ago; it’s how schools like Wisconsin win consistently despite only recruiting three stars and walk-one.

OSU recruits a handful of three stars every year, and the message boards erupt in mock outrage that we couldn’t land someone better. Then a voice of reason suggests looking at the three star’s offer list, and sure enough it’s like Oklahoma, LSU, Auburn, Penn State. If you want to know how good a kid is, that’s where to look. The top schools find guys even if they don’t have the stars.
The Midwest is notorious for this, lots of late bloomers maybe.

Ive noted repeatedly to people that Ohio State’s last title team had more 3-stars than subsequent champions. Struck gold with some of those interior OL, Darron Lee, and Devin Smith. Of course they also had a share of amazing blue chips as well.
 

kevinbelt

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2014 was a bit of an anomaly because the seniors and RS juniors (basically the guys you listed and Cardale Jones) were Tressel recruits who got coached up by Meyer.

I have a few theories why the Midwest is underranked, but at least in Texas, I think the UIL does a good job of putting top players in position to be well-evaluated by recruiters and ranking services.
 

Ian Boyd

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2014 was a bit of an anomaly because the seniors and RS juniors (basically the guys you listed and Cardale Jones) were Tressel recruits who got coached up by Meyer.

I have a few theories why the Midwest is underranked, but at least in Texas, I think the UIL does a good job of putting top players in position to be well-evaluated by recruiters and ranking services.
I’ve heard one theory that Midwestern kids may be a little tougher because of the blue collar culture and thus more willing to practice and play in a way that yields results in the trenches. I dunno.

For sure it’s the case that more kids in Texas get access to serious coaching and development because of the dominance of public school football.
 

stilesbbq

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2014 was a bit of an anomaly because the seniors and RS juniors (basically the guys you listed and Cardale Jones) were Tressel recruits who got coached up by Meyer.

I have a few theories why the Midwest is underranked, but at least in Texas, I think the UIL does a good job of putting top players in position to be well-evaluated by recruiters and ranking services.
Midwest kids are pretty much under valued in every sport. A slight part of moneyball was that Beane found out Western and Southern kids were over valued and evaluated while Midwestern kids the inverse
 

kevinbelt

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I’ve heard one theory that Midwestern kids may be a little tougher because of the blue collar culture and thus more willing to practice and play in a way that yields results in the trenches. I dunno.

For sure it’s the case that more kids in Texas get access to serious coaching and development because of the dominance of public school football.
I think that’s more of a story that midwesterners tell ourselves to make us feel tough than any reality. I grew up with plenty of soft kids in Ohio, and I’ve met plenty of blue collar hard workers here in New England.

Public school ball is important. In Ohio and other heavily Catholic areas, recruiting is real , and you end up with superteams who don’t play each other until late in the playoffs. It even happens with big public schools. Braxton Miller is from my hometown, but if you look at his bio it’ll say he’s from Huber Heights, which is about seven miles down the highway. He “moved in with his aunt”, because our team historically sucked and Wayne was state-caliber.

One other difference between Ohio and Texas is that we have permanent conferences. In practice, this means that with demographic changes over time, you can wind up with top-level schools (we call it D1 instead of 6A) playing a schedule of mostly lower-division schools.

The combined effect of these two things is to make good-on-good matchups pretty rare. And that difference in quality of competition makes it hard to evaluate film. Yeah, you might blow by DBs on film, but so does half the league, because the other half’s DBs are 5’4” and won’t even play intramurals in college.

Also, you have spring ball, which some people think is enough to explain the difference. The OHSAA just voted it down again.
 

Toadvine

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Brooks was a questionable mental eval. His issues were not related to playing football.

Perkins is a more explosive athlete than Brooks. Watch his clips playing running back. It's ridiculous. He's a clear 5 star at his height and with his frame and athleticism. What he ends up playing eventually I cannot say, but I'm assuming a 6'2.5", 200 lb 16 year old pretty easily goes 225 as a sophomore on a college campus. Scale him up a bit from there and assume not a huge loss of movement ability and he's NFL as hell.
 

Toadvine

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I’ve heard one theory that Midwestern kids may be a little tougher because of the blue collar culture and thus more willing to practice and play in a way that yields results in the trenches. I dunno.

For sure it’s the case that more kids in Texas get access to serious coaching and development because of the dominance of public school football.
I don't think it's any mythical blue collar deal. I think it's HS wrestling. Big kids in the midwest wrestle as a second sport. Wrestling makes you tough as ****, and it encourages hand strength, balance and close movement coordination, all of which translates really well to football. Secondary sports in Texas are track or basketball, both of which have some good attributes for football, but neither of which translate as directly to physicality.
 

Ian Boyd

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Perkins is a more explosive athlete than Brooks. Watch his clips playing running back. It's ridiculous. He's a clear 5 star at his height and with his frame and athleticism. What he ends up playing eventually I cannot say, but I'm assuming a 6'2.5", 200 lb 16 year old pretty easily goes 225 as a sophomore on a college campus. Scale him up a bit from there and assume not a huge loss of movement ability and he's NFL as hell.
Of course, that was the general point. It's easy to see him or Sanders having obvious "highest percentile" physical abilities. But it has to translate onto the field in a time and manner that actually helps the college team or else what are we talking about here?
I don't think it's any mythical blue collar deal. I think it's HS wrestling. Big kids in the midwest wrestle as a second sport. Wrestling makes you tough as ****, and it encourages hand strength, balance and close movement coordination, all of which translates really well to football. Secondary sports in Texas are track or basketball, both of which have some good attributes for football, but neither of which translate as directly to physicality.
That's a fantastic theory. I have no idea how to test it but I'll be trying to use that lens from now on.
 
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Toadvine

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Of course, that was the general point. It's easy to see him or Sanders having obvious "highest percentile" physical abilities. But it has to translate onto the field in a time and manner that actually helps the college team or else what are we talking about here?

That's a fantastic theory. I have no idea how to test it but I'll be trying to use that lens from now on.

It's definitely something college football coaches have paid attention to for awhile.
 

Toadvine

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I would also bet that the perennial underrating will be worse than usual for the places that didn’t have full football seasons this past year. We’ll see some pretty wacky results in college in a couple years when someplace like San Diego State or Kent State has four NFL players who no one recruited our of high school.
 

kevinbelt

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I don't think it's any mythical blue collar deal. I think it's HS wrestling. Big kids in the midwest wrestle as a second sport. Wrestling makes you tough as ****, and it encourages hand strength, balance and close movement coordination, all of which translates really well to football. Secondary sports in Texas are track or basketball, both of which have some good attributes for football, but neither of which translate as directly to physicality.
Wait, y'all don't wrestle? Seriously? My cousin is a kicker (watch Kent State next year!), and even he wrestled. Wow, that's something I just assumed happened everywhere.
 

Toadvine

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Wait, y'all don't wrestle? Seriously? My cousin is a kicker (watch Kent State next year!), and even he wrestled. Wow, that's something I just assumed happened everywhere.
Really isn't a thing here. We don't have winter, so there just aren't as many gym sports. There are some exceptions, but HS wrestling really isn't a thing until you get to Oklahoma.
 
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system poster

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This is already a known bug with rankings. Ian wrote about it a few years ago; it’s how schools like Wisconsin win consistently despite only recruiting three stars and walk-one.

OSU recruits a handful of three stars every year, and the message boards erupt in mock outrage that we couldn’t land someone better. Then a voice of reason suggests looking at the three star’s offer list, and sure enough it’s like Oklahoma, LSU, Auburn, Penn State. If you want to know how good a kid is, that’s where to look. The top schools find guys even if they don’t have the stars.
Yeah, I'm talking about something a little different, and its kind of speculative because it hasn't really manifested itself yet. Namely, that if 247 is trying to mirror the first round of the NFL draft of 3 to 4 years later with their five star players, they'd be incentivized to hand out 5 star ratings to only guys that are in positions that NFL teams go after in the first round. That hasn't really happened yet as 247 still gives out an inordinate amount of five star ratings to guys in positions that more and more NFL teams consider low value, like running back, interior space-eating defensive linemen, inside linebackers, etc.
 

Toadvine

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It was when I was in high school, but that was 15 years ago now.
Are you from North Texas or the Panhandle? It's definitely not a thing in Houston or most of East TX. Or in the Austin area.

I graduated a long time ago, but my sister and brother in law are both Hs coaches in the houston area. Even the schools that kind of have it view it as a niche thing. In the midwest, it's a huge deal.
 

Ian Boyd

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It's definitely something college football coaches have paid attention to for awhile.
Oh, it's definitely something I've noticed as a factor but I didn't make the connection that it was much more common in the midwest and north as a second sport then down south or in Texas.

I've wondered if weight cutting in HS wrestling is a liability for football though because you can stunt your growth with some of that stuff, obviously it isn't holding guys back up north though. Maybe drastic weight cutting isn't all that common, I dunno. I knew a guy who went to nationals out of Texas who was cutting from like 170 to 135 or something by the end of his senior year.
 

BluffviewHorn

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Are you from North Texas or the Panhandle? It's definitely not a thing in Houston or most of East TX. Or in the Austin area.

I graduated a long time ago, but my sister and brother in law are both Hs coaches in the houston area. Even the schools that kind of have it view it as a niche thing. In the midwest, it's a huge deal.
That’s pretty accurate. It’s mostly a north Texas and panhandle thing. Not so much in the rest of Texas. Not surprisingly the areas of the state that can easily go up to Oklahoma for top level competition.
I know damn near every tiny ass town in Oklahoma from going up there for wrestling tournaments my whole childhood.
 
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BluffviewHorn

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Oh, it's definitely something I've noticed as a factor but I didn't make the connection that it was much more common in the midwest and north as a second sport then down south or in Texas.

I've wondered if weight cutting in HS wrestling is a liability for football though because you can stunt your growth with some of that stuff, obviously it isn't holding guys back up north though. Maybe drastic weight cutting isn't all that common, I dunno. I knew a guy who went to nationals out of Texas who was cutting from like 170 to 135 or something by the end of his senior year.
Yes you can stunt your growth weight cutting, but those extremes are guys competing on the national level. I grew three inches in height my sophomore year in college, after I quit wrestling my freshman year. First year of regular meals since the 2nd grade.
The average MW or Oklahoma wrestler isn’t going to regional and national meets. They still reap a big athletic benefit from being an average wrestler.

To further make the point... Schlegel (mid 2000’s) at Ohio State looked like a typical MW Anglo LB that played physical LB. He was a Texas HS wrestling champ.
 

system poster

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Oh, it's definitely something I've noticed as a factor but I didn't make the connection that it was much more common in the midwest and north as a second sport then down south or in Texas.

I've wondered if weight cutting in HS wrestling is a liability for football though because you can stunt your growth with some of that stuff, obviously it isn't holding guys back up north though. Maybe drastic weight cutting isn't all that common, I dunno. I knew a guy who went to nationals out of Texas who was cutting from like 170 to 135 or something by the end of his senior year.
For football players, it was mostly linemen encouraged to participate, and the top weight class is between 285 and 220, which means most high school linemen walking around at 250 plus wouldn't really be able to cut down below 220 anyway, practically speaking. Kind of the same deal with powerlifting, although those programs are usually run by the football coaches, and those guys certainly aren't going to pressure anybody to cut serious weight.
 
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system poster

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Are you from North Texas or the Panhandle? It's definitely not a thing in Houston or most of East TX. Or in the Austin area.

I graduated a long time ago, but my sister and brother in law are both Hs coaches in the houston area. Even the schools that kind of have it view it as a niche thing. In the midwest, it's a huge deal.
Yeah, DFW area, though a ton has changed since then. We were still running the veer, and a lot of schools we played against were running wing t and single wing variants. I could see how a high school running a spread passing scheme wouldn't care as much about players getting wrestling experience.