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June 12, 2002
Each year the Lone Star state is called home by a few of the nation's top signal callers. Last year Vincent Young came out of Houston's Madison High School to finish the season as the nation's top rated player.
This year, Denton Ryan's James Battle enters the season as the top rated quarterback in the state.
On the first rankings of the talent in Texas, Rivals100.com's Jeremy Crabtree has Battle among the top 25 prospects, plugging him into the number 16 spot.
While he's not considered the top overall prospect in the state at this time, it certainly hasn't kept college recruiters from wanting their shot at landing the 6-foot-2, 195-pounder.
"I'm wide open right now," Battle said. "Penn State is the most respected program, that I have an offer from. They are going to give me a chance to start as a freshman. I'm not limiting anyone though. Coaches from Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Syracuse, Miami and Florida have visited the school recently."
Battle can get it done in the air as well as on the ground as he proved during his junior campaign. He threw for 3,017 yards and 38 touchdowns and ran for 603 yards and 11 scores. Those numbers helped Denton Ryan win the state championship last season.
Another of the state's top quarterbacks, Baytown Lee's Drew Tate has already made his school choice. He's headed to Texas A&M. A choice he made public last September.
"Drew is a very good quarterback," Baytown coach Dick Olin said. "He'll continue to get better as he gets older and stronger."
Tate will be starting for the Ganders for the fourth straight season this year. His decision to go to Texas A&M makes him the fourth quarterback to move on to Division-I under Olin.
The others are Jermaine Alfred of Baylor, Clint Stoerner of Arkansas and Ell Roberson of Kansas State.
Phil Bennett, the new coach at SMU, has gotten his second recruiting class off to a good start, landing what many consider to be the third-best quarterback in the state.
Mount Vernon, Texas' Ricky Joe Meeks pledged his talents to the Mustangs' backfield in early May at SMU's spring game.
Meeks chose the Mustang program in part because of Coach Bennett and the rest of his staff.
"The new coaching staff is really upbeat and they have a lot of things going for them," Dickey Meeks, Ricky's father said. "Ricky Joe can't get a better education anywhere, and the type of offense they are implementing up there is the same we run here."
As a junior, Meeks completed 104 of 191 passes for 1,717 yards and six touchdowns. He also earned all-state honors as a punter, averaging 40.7 yards per kick.
Tyler Lee quarterback Matt Flynn will battle Meeks and Tate for the top ranking among pro-style quarterbacks in the state.
Flynn is focusing on four schools at this point during the recruiting process.
"Right now I'm focused on Alabama, Colorado, LSU, and Purdue," Flynn told BamaOnline.com. "Those are basically the only schools I am considering. I took an unofficial visit to Alabama early this year and I loved it. The fan support there plus the tradition, it's awesome."
Flynn is looking to get the recruiting process out of the way early, in order to avoid the distraction during his senior season.
"I would like to commit before the season starts so I can put it behind me and enjoy my senior season," Flynn said. " But I won't rush into anything. When it feels right I will commit."
As a junior, Flynn completed 101 of 199 pass attempts for 1,650 yards and 13 touchdowns.
A couple of the top dual-threat prospects behind Battle will rely on their speed to help them on the field.
Arlington (Texas) Sam Houston's Devin Williams packs both size and speed into the package he offers to college recruiters.
At 6-foot-4, 185 pounds and a 4.40 time in the 40-yard dash, he offers what any coach could want in a quarterback.
Last year, Williams led Sam Houston through the air and on the ground putting up impressive numbers both ways. He threw for 1,500 yards and 14 touchdowns while piling up 750 yards on the ground and crossing the goal line 12 times.
He was just recently offered by Nebraska and also was very impressive at the Oklahoma summer camp.
"We run multiple formations," Williams said. "We'll use one-back, two-back or no-back formations to help us open the field up a little more depending on what we need to do. Last year we finished only 7-4, but we've got almost everyone back so we should be able to pick up where we left off."
Williams is considering several schools, but knows one thing for sure. He won't be going to college in Texas.
"I'm going out of state," Williams said.
The other speedster running his team's offense is Beaumont Ozen's Rayburn Morris .
Morris checks in at 6-foot-2 and 180 pounds.
But the clocking of a 4.49 40-yard dash has helped him in the eyes of coaches. He already had shown scouts he could throw the ball accurately after his junior season.
"I try to be as accurate as possible," Morris said. "I hit on 65 percent of my throws last year. So that will help me out a lot."
As will his speed.
"Coaches seem to be looking for guys who can avoid the rush and having some speed helps. I showed I can run the ball too last year."
Morris finished his juinor season with just over 750 yards rushing and 13 touchdowns to go along with his 1,500 yards passing and 22 scores.
Morris is being recruited by several schools in the region as well as others outside the area.
"I've had steady contact with Oklahoma, Alabama, Texas Tech, Ohio State, Texas, Texas A&M, SMU, Ohio, Oklahoma State and Purdue. I don't have any scholarship offers yet, but I'm sure that will come."