When the Texas Longhorns took down the Oklahoma Sooners, one of the Horns’ biggest recruiting targets was there to see it. Lufkin DT JaMarkus McFarland talks with Inside Texas about his experience at the Cotton Bowl, the visits he has lined up, the biggest factors in his decision and more.
Saturday’s Red River Rivalry win for No. 1 ranked Texas over then-No. 1 Oklahoma will be remembered as one of the landmark games in the 103 year history of the rivalry for many reasons, one of them being the record 92,000-plus in attendance that packed the newly-renovated Cotton Bowl.
One of those 92,182 fans who watched the Longhorns win an epic 45-35 shootout over the Sooners could be playing in this heated rivalry for the next few seasons.
Longhorn, Sooner and LSU Tiger fans have been following five-star Lufkin defensive tackle Jamarkus McFarland ever since the 6-foot-3, 285 pound beast narrowed his choice of schools to the trio, and on Saturday McFarland made his way to Dallas for the top five showdown between two of his three finalists.
Though not having any specific cheering interest at the game, McFarland nonetheless enjoyed himself at one of the most highly-anticipated and (afterwards) thrilling games of the college football season.
“It was a good experience for me,” McFarland said. “It was the first time I have been to that game and it was real exciting.”
“I got the tickets from Oklahoma, because they were the home team,” McFarland said. “I wasn’t on a visit or anything. I wanted to watch both teams play, just sit back and enjoy it. It was a lot of fun for me and my family.”
The trip to Dallas for McFarland came on the heels of a standout effort by himself and the rest of the Lufkin defense as the Panthers pitched a shutout the night before in a 61-0 district opening win over New Caney. The victory pulled Lufkin to an even 3-3 on the season as the Panthers have faced some stiff competition thus far, falling to perennial state powers Longview (45-37), Mesquite (20-14), and Galena Park North Shore (28-21).
“We have played some stacked teams and a pretty stacked schedule,” McFarland said. “We lost two games by one score each and then went out and won 61-0 to start district.
“We’re playing really fast right now and we’re getting ready for the playoffs.”
Getting ready for the playoffs is a routine process for Lufkin, a program that this decade alone has produced the likes of Reggie McNeal, Jorvorskie Lane and most recently Dez Bryant, and won a Class 5A state championship in 2001. McFarland appreciates and respects the precedent that has been set and the traditions that were born long before he donned the purple and white.
“Once you get out there on the field, you see why you strap it on every week,” McFarland said. “You don’t suit up to complain or any of that stuff, that’s not what it’s about. Football is so big in Lufkin you want to give it everything you have. It’s not just about us it’s about what all the players that played here before us did.”
As good as he is on the field, McFarland is also an excellent student in the classroom and he continues to state that academics will play a big role in his decision.
“I’m really into (academics),” McFarland said. “Going pro is nice, and people talk about going pro but that’s not my main reason for choosing a school. I want to use football as an opportunity to take care of my family after I finish college.”
McFarland, who will have 12 college credit hours whenever he steps foot on a college campus, further elaborated on just how much he values academics.
“I like the other things about (the three schools) besides just football,” McFarland said. “I have got to be smart enough to make my decision on things other than football because there is more than just football.”
As far as where McFarland will study and play football next year, the picture could become clearer within the next few weeks.
McFarland will be taking his official visit to Norman on Saturday for the Oklahoma-Kansas game. The following weekend McFarland will head to Baton Rouge for his official visit to LSU on Oct. 25 as the Tigers will tangle with former No. 1 Georgia.
McFarland does not have an official visit lined up at Texas, but he says he will use his two scheduled officials to get a good look of both cities much like he has already done in his trips Austin.
“I have been to Austin a lot,” McFarland said. “I’ve been down there and I’ve seen what it’s like not only on campus, but around town and I’ve seen how life is in general.
“I’ve never been off campus (at LSU or Oklahoma) and haven’t seen those things.”