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Plenty of Young Defensive Playmakers in State 7-on-7 Field

Like the underclassman prospects on offense, there figure

to be several top defenders from the 2012 and 2013 classes competing at the

7-on-7 State Tournament in College Station this weekend. However, while the

offensive group of up-and-coming prospects is talented, the defensive side of

the football might bring a little more star power.
Dallas Skyline is going to be one of the most talented teams in the field this weekend thanks in large part to a 2012 class as good as any in the country. The Raiders’ impressive group is headlined by linebacker Peter Jinkens and defensive back Shelton Sessions, while 2013 cornerback Will Barrow rounds out an elite group of talented defenders.

The group of defensive backs is going to be a good one to watch this weekend as Anahuac’s Justin Albritton, Stephenville’s Aivian Edwards and West Orange-Stark’s Justin Thomas come into the tournament after enjoying a lot of 7-on-7 success as well as success on the field during their respective first two high school seasons.

The best defensive underclassmen ascending on Texas A&M’s Penberthy Fields might just be in the athlete category where Lewisville Hebron’s Kiante Griffin and Carthage’s Edward Pope have established themselves as elite playmakers in the 2012 class.

UNDERCLASSMAN DEFENSIVE PROSPECTS BY POSITION

LINEBACKERS

There aren’t many positions when you talk about underclassmen where Dallas Skyline prospects won’t be at the front of the line. Linebacker is no different where 2012 prospect Peter Jinkens is one of the state’s best.

The 6-foot-2, 205-pounder is one of the best looking 2012 prospects on the hoof and the rangy outside linebacker popped off a 4.54 40-yard dash during his recent appearance at Texas’ June 13 minicamp. Jinkens is expected to start at outside linebacker for the Raiders where he’ll look to replace Under Armour All-American Corey Nelson.

Jinkens isn’t the only talented 2012 Skyline linebacker in the field as Nigel Robertson, Dominic Spencer and Wyllyam Stokes could all see action this weekend all four appear to be legit college prospects.

At last year’s state tournament DeSoto’s Alex Lyons looked very comfortable in pass coverage and used his summer effort as a springboard to a productive sophomore year for the Eagles. DeSoto is one of the favorites in the Division I tournament and the 6-foot-1, 190-pound Lyons will be counted on to use his fluid ability in zone coverage and closing speed to make plays.

Pearland’s Kendall Ehrlich was an All-District performer for the Oilers last fall and he’s one of the prospects who stood out at the Houston Under Armour Combine in late spring. The 6-foot-3, 195-pounder is an aggressive, attacking linebacker and a strong performance this weekend could bolster his status as a prospect.

Among the 2013 prospects at the linebacker spot the best of the bunch might just be Round Rock McNeil’s Daniel Williams. The 6-foot, 190-pounder is the younger brother of Texas cornerback Aaron Williams and the younger Williams has excelled this summer playing outside linebacker while also being able to slide back as a hybrid safety.

DEFENSIVE BACKS

Much like with the 2011 prospects in the tournament, the underclassman group of defensive backs features some truly elite playmakers.

West Orange-Stark’s Justin Thomas is another elite cornerback in the 2012 class. Despite being undersized at 5-foot-9, 165-pounds, the cousin of former Longhorn All-American safety Earl Thomas is a fierce competitor and isn’t afraid to climb the ladder and compete for the football with bigger receivers.

Pearland Dawson’s Jarrell Crenshaw and Stephenville’s Aivian Edwards are two of the better safeties in the 2012 class who have gotten the job done on the field on Friday nights. The 5-foot-10, 175-pound Crenshaw is another prospect who had a strong Under Armour Combine in Houston while the 5-foot-11, 200-pound Edwards has started at state power Stephenville since his freshman year.

Also keep an eye out this weekend for Dallas Skyline’s Shelton Sessions, Round Rock McNeil’s Zach Kuhn, Anahuac’s Justin Albritton, Klein Collins’ Ryan Santos, and Arlington Bowie’s Robert Jenkins to round a very talented group.

Dallas Skyline’s Will Barrow headlines the 2013 class. This spring the 5-foot-9, 170-pounder was one of the most impressive cover corners in the entire Skyline program.

ATHLETES

The top two athlete prospects among the underclassmen in the tournament could very well have gone in the defensive back group, but their playmaking is ability is too big to ignore what they bring to the table on offense.

While he’ll be playing on both sides of the ball, Carthage’s Edward Pope has big-time ability as a long, rangy safety prospect. The 6-foot-3, 175-pound two-year starter for two-time reigning Class 3A state champion Carthage has one of the elite skill sets in the 2012 class because of his ball skills, instincts and his physical nature.

Pope made plenty of big-plays for the Bulldogs in last year’s tournament, so expect more of the same this weekend. A long-ball threat, Pope can stretch the field and has hands strong enough to be able to move the chains over the middle.

Like Pope, look for Lewisville Hebron’s Kiante Griffin to be standout on both sides of the ball, but his college future could very well be as a lockdown cornerback. The 6-foot, 190-pounder has elite high-point ball skills and has displayed fluid hips and top-shelf recovery speed making him the ideal fit to be a one-on-one cover man on an island.

Griffin however has limited experience at cornerback and did most of his damage on offense as a sophomore. In 2009 Griffin caught 32 passes for nearly 800 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Jarrett Irving had a fine sophomore season at safety for Spring Dekaney and he’ll make the move to quarterback as a junior. Even though talented 2012 running back Trey Williams shares the backfield with Irving, Dekaney coaches say the 5-foot-11, 180-pounder is the best athlete in the program.

One prospect who has been getting a lot of attention thanks to a strong summer is Snyder’s Keenon Ward. The 5-foot-11, 190-pounder had more than 1,800 yards of total offense and 23 total touchdowns as a sophomore while the Tigers have some talented players in the program, Ward might be the team’s best college prospect.

Pool play in the Division II State Tournament begins on Thursday afternoon at 1 p.m. at Texas A&M’s Penberthy Fields. Bracket play in the Division II tournament begins at 8 a.m. on Friday while the Division I field begins pool play later in the day Friday at 1 p.m.

The tournament semifinals and championships for both divisions and both brackets are played at Texas A&M’s Kyle Field.