Inspired by the works of Inside Texas Recruiting Editor Eric Nahlin, I decided to search through the East Texas region and build the HS all-star football team that would compete with Houston and Dallas. A tall task indeed. My boy Jonathan Wells added the I-35 Corridor.
Since I’m dealing with a smaller population of people, I will combine the classes from 2016 and 2017. The piney woods area supports roughly 100 schools, with Tyler Lee being the largest. While the bigger schools would supply the depth – Lufkin, Longview, John Tyler – the smaller programs would provide those elite athletes just begging for an opportunity – Gilmer, Tatum, Tenaha.
QB- Zach Hall, Tyler Lee (’16). The electric athlete at Robert E. Lee is special with the ball in his hands. Multi-versatile and holds an offer from Texas Tech.
RB- Cameron Haller, Marshall (’17). Haller took the region by storm notching 20 TDs as a sophomore for the surprising Mavericks.
RB- Aphonso Thomas, Van (’16). Thomas burst on the scene as a junior grabbing Kansas, Colorado State offers recently.
WR- Damion Miller, John Tyler (’17). The next great wide receiver to come out of East Texas, Miller had a great sophomore season and his recruitment will only grow.
WR- Kendrick Rogers, Frankston (’16). The long field-stretcher is a red zone nightmare for 3A opponents in the area. Also excels on the hardwood.
WR- Octavius Evans, Center (’17). The 6-foot-2, 180-pound playmaker is the early offer leader in East Texas for 2017.
(tie) TE- Cody Mitchell, Jasper (’16). The top tight end in the region, Mitchell is a big target with soft hands and a nasty disposition. Holds Missouri, Texas State offers.
Major Tennison, Bullard (’17). Untapped potential in this rising star.
UTIL- Keenan Johnson, Alto (’16). The ETSN Offensive Newcomer of the Year totaled over 4,000 yards last season as QB for the Yellowjackets. SMU has offered at WR.
OT- Riley Anderson, Mineola (’16). The massive offensive lineman is a natural athlete along the line. Teaming up with his twin allows me to dominate the left side of the line.
OG- Austin Anderson, Mineola (’16). With brother Riley, the duo combine for over 30 offers.
C- Hunter Flanigan, Newton (’16).
OG- Adrian Harris, John Tyler (’16). Mauler at the point of attack, Harris’ nasty disposition is key in our run game.
OT- Jeremy West, Arp (’16). Good length, strong base, and great feet are reasons why West will play at the next level.
DE- Ladarius Hamilton, Corrigan Camden (’16). The 6-foot-2, 230-pounder spins down the line to be my pass rusher.
DE- Bronson Massie, Lufkin (’16). Boom is known for one thing: big hits. His offer list will grow as he does.
DT- Braylon Jones, John Tyler (’16). One of the best kept secrets in the area, Jones holds a handful of offers. It’s easy to see that growing as he enters his senior year.
DT- Jarrod McLin, Carthage (’16).
LB- DeMarco Boyd, Gilmer (’16). Probably the meanest on the field, the Texas commit plays anywhere the Buckeyes need him. While he excels at RB and along the defensive line, he’s a LB on my team because nothing’s getting past him. I like that.
LB- Tanner Holmes, Newton (’16). At 6-foot-2, 215, the underrated linebacker is getting A&M, Texas State looks early.
LB- Andre Wiley Jr., Liberty Eylau (’16).
CB- Corey Lane, Nacogdoches (’16). Younger brother of last season’s offer star, Jaylon Lane, Corey adds a different dimension as a quick, aggressive pass defender.
CB- Kenyon “Bubba” Hall, Sulphur Springs (’16). The long-armed Hall is one of the most unique defenders in the region. He uses his height (6-foot-2) with the wingspan of almost a 7-footer and eliminates his side of the field.
Nickel- Jaylon Hawkins, Sulphur Springs (’17). Remember the name.
S- Brandon Jones, Nacogdoches (’16). The highest rated player in the area is also pound-for-pound its best. Jones lays the wood across the middle, but adds the speed effect (unofficial 4.39 40) to his repertoire. Region’s leader in offers.
S- Travon Fuller, Athens (’16). The Texas A&M commit is ultra-athletic that just needs strength and refinement to excel in the SEC.
While unlikely to defeat the larger areas of the state, East Texas players offer a special blend of athleticism, talent, and Texas-sized desire. They take it personal when others doubt or simply ignore. Give me 22 prospects from the region and I’ll compete with anyone.