FootballFootball Recruiting

IT Top 100 for 2016 (No. 26-50)

Denzel Okafor. (courtesy of Okafor)
Denzel Okafor. (courtesy of Okafor)

After long hours of watching film, talking to dozens of HS and college coaches, and watching more film, we deliver the final installment of the Inside Texas Top 100 for 2016. We don’t claim to be experts, but here’s what we’ve got. Today, it’s No. 26-50. Take a look at No. 51-100.

26. OL Denzel Okafor, Lewisville (Lewisville, TX) – TEXAS: Long-limbed guard prospect with outside chance to play at tackle because of his length and athleticism. Okafor is also surprisingly refined, displaying rare, sound technique for a high school offensive lineman of his caliber. He can beat you with superior ability or with fundamentals. He’ll become a complete offensive lineman, and as a cohort of mine states, he has some Trey Hopkins to his game. Indeed, Okafor could play up and down the line. He’s refined enough that he could play early, but if he can redshirt, all the better.

27. RB Darius Anderson, George Ranch (Richmond, TX) – TCU: What a senior year for the state champ. Not only did he get his ring, he showed people like myself who were doubting his junior film that he was truly a stud. You can find a lot of guys explosive to the edge, but what I love is how hard he hits the hole between the tackles. For a speed back, he runs with willingness and surprising power. Each broken tackle gives Anderson a chance to break a big play. His top-end speed is the only thing lacking, but he’s not slow.

28. DE Andrew Fitzgerald, Marcus (Flower Mound, TX) – TEXAS: I was high on him extremely early and he’s still on the course I envisioned as evidenced by his recent rankings jump. Guys like Fitzgerald are hard to articulate. They aren’t twitchy but they are athletic. He moves and bends well while possessing tremendous size with room still to grow. He’s not a 6-foot-3 guy listed at 6-foot-4, he’s probably closer to 6-foot-5. His traits don’t jump off the screen from a combine standpoint but part of what makes him so alluring is his fit at Texas. Look where they shade him and ask him to do. He’s athletic enough to rush from the outside while quick enough to get up field between gaps. He pursues down the line well. As he continues to get bigger, stronger and hopefully more explosive off the ball, he’ll be able to have as impactful a career in college as he did in high school. Some guys just translate. He’s not going to get blown off the ball, we know that. He’s not going to be easy to run at. He’ll get some push and force the OT up field. He’ll help create lanes for LB blitzes.

29. RB Devwah Whaley, Central (Beaumont, TX) – ARKANSAS: The best blend of burst and size in the state, Whaley’s a broad shouldered athlete who will fill out to just south of 220 pounds. There’s a lot of talk about what he does wrong as a back – lacks nuance, doesn’t run through contact – but the fact remains, guys his size don’t accelerate like he does often.

30. DE Mark Jackson, Steele (Cibolo, TX) – TEXAS A&M: A player you’ll appreciate in person as you see him play with strength despite being a bit undersized (6-foot-2, 225). Wiry strong, quick off the ball, and playing with leverage will help you combat with the big uglies and that typifies Jackson. Despite not being tall, he does have long arms he uses to his advantage as he disallows offensive lineman to get into his pads. As a rusher, Jackson is quick off the ball, can get up-field and get flat, or has the ability to go speed to power if he catches a tackle on his heels. If he doesn’t locate blockers in the run game (say a pulling guard) he can be washed away rather easily, but he’ll get bigger and strong and come to understand where “his man” is coming from. Perhaps best of all, Jackson is closer to being 17 than he is 18.

31. DE Brandon Bowen, Byron Nelson (Trophy Club, TX) – BAYLOR: One of the better athletes you’ll find in high school football, Bowen still has a lot to learn about playing defensive end. He’s not nearly as polished as Jackson one spot ahead. He lunges a bit too much, and doesn’t use his explosive ability when tackling. He also needs to learn how to use his hands better. That said, because of his raw athleticism he has tremendous upside. I do feel like the networks have him overrated at this point based on his size and ability to run.

32. CB Travon Fuller, Athens (Athens, TX) – TEXAS A&M: Fuller has the type of do-it-all film you expect to see from a 4-star prospect playing lower classification ball. He affects the game in all three phases simply because he’s too quick and too fast. When you see Fuller plant and go as a ball carrier so abruptly, you just know he’ll be great at breaking on the ball when it’s in the air and sticking with receivers out of their routes. Now the test comes, can he bulk up and play physically?

33. DB Eric Cuffee, Waco (Waco, TX)- TEXAS: The most intriguing thing about Cuffee is he’ll have safety size with corner feet which could mean he ends up being a great nickel option. His hips are also corner caliber so if he does move to safety or nickel, coverage shouldn’t be an issue. There’s evidence of him being physical when the pads come on, but that’s still a bit of an unknown. At nickel/safety you have to trade more paint than if you’re on an island.

34. WR Dee Anderson, Desoto (Desoto, TX) – LSU: He took a bit of a bump because we didn’t get to see his senior year since he wasn’t eligible. As a junior he showed the ability to stretch the field vertically with speed, something not very common with a 6-foot-4 receiver. He’ll still be raw, and now he’ll be rusty, but when the light comes on for Anderson he’ll make some noise (if LSU ever finds a QB).

35. DB Innis Gaines, West Brook (Beaumont, TX): – TCU: I can’t think of a better player to follow in the Sam Carter/Denzel Johnson lineage. Gaines has the traits to be part safety, part linebacker, which Gary Patterson loves to employ. He can man-up and cover, he can attack ball carriers in space, or he can fill for vacating linebackers. Gaines also has a nose for the ball when its in the air.

Dee Anderson. (Will Gallagher/IT)
Dee Anderson. (Will Gallagher/IT)

36. WR Audie Omotosho, Plano East (Plano, TX) – UCLA: I love the way he gets into his routes, low and with urgency like a smaller receiver. This puts the corner on his heels as Omotosho eats up cushion quickly. He has good size at 6-foot-2, but appears to be even longer than that. He also shows good fluidity, change of direction, and acceleration when he needs it. He’s not a burner but he’s fast. He’s not a big match-up nightmare, but he has good size and strength. He looks like he has the tools to become a complete receiver. I never understood why Texas didn’t target him. I imagine we’ll be asked about him quite a bit if he ends up at TCU or Oklahoma State.

37. DT Kendell Jones, Shoemaker (Killeen, TX) – ALABAMA: One of the most captivating prospects in the nation is the man accurately described as Hulk. Unfortunately fans often equate appearance with ability. If we did that he’d be the best player in the history of the sport. Standing 6-foot-5, 375 pounds, you’ve never seen anyone like him. Alas, football is about the ability to move and put yourself in position to make plays, and all too often Jones is winded or playing way too high which negates his decisive advantage — strength. Once he does get going he does move well all things considered. He should suffice as a NT at Bama. He struggled with Zach Shackelford one-on-one. What’s he going to do when two maulers combo him in college? I wouldn’t be surprised if he ended up at OG in a year or two.

38. RB Trayveon Williams, C.E. King (Houston, TX) – TEXAS A&M: Quicker than fast, Williams is a dart through traffic as he runs to open space. He has great stop/start ability, but doesn’t project to a high volume, move the pile runner. If paired with one, he becomes even more dangerous. He should be used often in the screen game where his initial acceleration should get him into open grass. He’s pretty well built, so I expect him to break some arm tackles and then break some big runs.

39. WR Courtney Lark, Bellaire (Bellaire, TX) – HOUSTON: With his arm length and jumping ability, the 6-foot-2 Lark plays much bigger when the balls in the air. Because of his stride, he plays much faster than 4.7 when given long stretches to run. I also like the way he attacks the ball and catches away from his body, often after contorting himself.

40. RB Sewo Olonilua, Kingwood (Humble, TX) – TCU: Interesting career for Olonilua. Based off of junior year film almost everyone had him pegged for defense. At the time I thought defense was his highest upside, while adding I felt real he had real, natural running back ability. After leaning up and improving his burst, Olonilua now looks like a bona fide threat at running back, where he’ll start his career at TCU. That said, if I thought he was going to play linebacker for Gary Patterson, I’d be hard pressed to keep him out of the Top 20. Olonilua and Darius Anderson splitting carries won’t be fun.

41. CB Obi Eboh, Carroll (Southlake, TX) – STANFORD: Technical corner in the Carrington Byndom mode. Eboh is intelligent with good length and physicality. I like him as a boundary corner who could also become a safety as his body matures. He shows intelligence and good vision as he peels off his man to track the ball. Unafraid to play force, you better also send some willing blockers when you run screens his way. In coverage he’s not the fastest guy, but he’s not slow and his length and stride will make up ground. Does well to use his body as he guides receivers out of bounds. Needs to be careful, though, as he can be beat with quickness at which point he gets a little grabby. Quickness will determine whether or not he sticks at corner or moves to safety.

42. DB DeMarkus Acy, Wilmer-Hutchins (Dallas, TX) – MISSOURI: I call him a Miami recruit right here in Texas. Why? Because he’s nowhere near maximized, runs very well, and is fearless as a hitter. As his frame fills out he could be anything from a nickel to a box safety. His coverage skills will need work but he has the athleticism to get to where he needs to be. Missouri has been known to steal undervalued Texas talent and I think that’s what’s going on here. Great senior year for Acy.

43. WR Tren’Davian Dickson, Navasota (Navasota, TX) – BAYLOR: I know he’s a record setter and highly rated. If you care about records you’re not really evaluating. I like his body control and ball skills; he’s in rare company in those regards. He has some Brandon Lloyd to him, but I question whether or not he’ll routinely get separation on the next level and I also question if he’ll be a better option than some of the athletic marvels Baylor is stock-piling at the position. He has the ability to become a phenomenal route runner but that’s not a big need in Waco. I bet he catches his share of balls in that offense but I don’t think he’ll be the difference maker some others do.

44. DT Chris Daniels, Trinity (Euless, TX) – TEXAS: Reports of his demise as a big-time prospect were greatly exaggerated. Sounds like an excuse for why Texas didn’t pursue sooner. Maybe he didn’t have a great year – typically defined by consistent play – but he showed easy-to-project traits for college. He has great length for a DT at nearly 6-foot-4. He bends well which creates leverage. This year he showed more punch at the POA but most importantly he retained the movement skills that allowed him to play defensive end for much of his high school career. He has a big butt and thick legs. He’ll play at 315 in college and will have versatility up and down the line.

45. RB Kameron Martin, Memorial (Port Arthur, TX) – BAYLOR: Wispy wisp of smoke with rare acceleration and speed. Martin is ideal in any offense that will put him in space and out-run defenders. He’s not a contact runner or a guy you give volume carries to on the next level, and there’s even a solid chance he ends up as a slot receiver, but when Martin is on the field you’ll have to account for him.

Davion Curtis (courtesy of Fort Hood Sentinel)
Davion Curtis (courtesy of Fort Hood Sentinel)

46. OT Austin Myers, Manvel (Manvel, TX) – TCU: Just a well-balanced offensive lineman with a lot of good football ahead of him. He’s good in his kick-step and slide but will get better and he has a decent punch but will get stronger. He moves well in space so the TCU screen game is in good hands. He could be a bit quicker and bit bigger but overall a very good prospect.

47. DT Ross Blacklock, Alief Elkins (Houston, TX) – TCU: He’s a nose or 1-tech all the way at the next level. He has an ass the size of the Fort Worth stockyards which will make him tough to move. For his size – 6-foot-3, 325 pounds – he moves quickly and becomes an explosive tackler in one step and he can actually play with good leverage when he wants to. He has some uncommon traits working in his favor. The main knock on him is motor and ‘want to’. Methinks Patterson will be good for him in that regard. With a properly motivated Blacklock, it will be tough sledding for opposing run games as TCU’s notorious undersized, yet aggressive linebackers, fly to the ball.

48. WR Davion Curtis, Temple (Temple, TX) – TEXAS: Curtis projects as a poor man’s Corey Coleman; a field stretcher in the new I-35 offense (thanks, Art!). His body is still filling out and has room for much more muscle. He has quick feet and great coordination, but he’s still raw as a route runner. He’s not as explosive as Coleman, but he’s plenty fast.

49. DE Alton Robinson, Judson (Converse, TX) – TEXAS A&M: Not the greatest length at 6-foot-2, but strong player who does well to keep his outside (or inside arm) free depending on his assignment. Blockers often become an afterthought for Robinson as he locates the ball and gets there in a hurry. Closing speed is good in a straight-line. As he takes the step up in competition, his pass rushing, thanks to quickness and flexibility may become his strength, but he displays the power to play the run as well. He’ll be interesting to see at 260 pounds.

50. CB KeShawn Somerville, Hendrickson (Plugerville, TX) – TCU: Maybe it’s the hair, maybe it’s the size, or that he’s long been committed to TCU, but I’ve always been reminded of Jason Verrett when I watch Somerville. More than likely it’s that he has the twitch and feet to stick with anyone in breaks and the speed to run vertically with faster receivers. Somerville was hurt for most of the season but I’m not going to ding the cover man for it.