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March 15, 2006

Decision looming

Trying to find a more talked about prospect from Texas in the early months of the recruiting process may be tough. Now, Rivals100 member John Chiles has set a date for his announcement and he's not hiding the probable choice.

Not many prospects picked up scholarship offers in quicker fashion than the athlete/quarterback Chiles. From Florida to Notre Dame, everybody pulled the offer trigger quickly. The Texas offer was big for many reasons but mainly due to the fact that the defending national champions were going to give him a shot at quarterback.

The 12 commitments for Texas looks to quickly turn to 13 as Chiles has announced that his decision will come on the second junior day in Austin - March 25.

"We've been looking at the good and the bad and just praying about it, looking at all options," Chiles told Orangebloods.com editor Jason Suchomel. "It's a big decision, not just for me, but for my whole family. It's going to be a big relief."

Chiles' delay for his decision apparently is so he can give Longhorn head coach Mack Brown a face-to-face commitment. The second junior day will be that opportunity.

The Mansfield (Texas) Summit prospect visited Texas earlier in March to meet with the coaching staff after missing the first junior day. While many wonder if this will affect other quarterback targets, the consensus seems to be that the Horns should still be in good shape for a second.

Texas' top tight end?

There are several names bouncing around as the top tight end in the state. Several prospects like Houston (Texas) Chavez's Harold Turnage, San Antonio (Texas) Churchill's Ian Harris, and Irving's Dante Pinchback have all had their fair share of publicity.

One in particular, Brenham's Ahmard Howard, has been collecting scholarship offers faster than any player regardless of position this past week. The 6-foot-4, 240-pounder has watched the count rise to six in the last few weeks. Texas was one of the bigger surprises on his list as the Longhorn coaches called Brenham coach Glen West to alert him about the offer.

Howard's upside and potential may outweigh the fact that he is still very raw. On the other hand, the way he's picking up offers, it's obvious that he's quickly becoming one of the hotter commodities in the state.

Other tight ends to watch for in 2007 include Euless (Texas) Trinity's Jordan Scoggins, Galveston (Texas) Ball's Frank Avery, and Houston (Texas) Yates' product Sonny Ramos.

Top running back likes A&M attention

Early on, it seemed that Texas was going to be the team to beat for Waller running back Cody Johnson. He left the UT junior day without an offer and when one finally came, it came on the condition that he was being recruited as a fullback.

That has put Texas A&M with a small edge at this point.

"My favorites are A&M first, then Texas, and then Oklahoma," Waller told Websider.com publisher Jeff Tarpley. "There was more attention shown at A&M. The love was there. I didn't feel like I was wasting my time. I actually got to talk to the head coach and get some things established."

The Aggies may hold a lead, but this race has a ways to go. Johnson plans to take in some camps this summer and possibly the NIKE Training Camp in College Station on April 22.

In-state visitors to watch Tech practice

Last year, spring visitors for Texas Tech were very important in relation to receiving commitments for the class of 2006. Future pledges Baron Batch and Taylor Potts were just a few signees that made their way to Lubbock during those weeks.

The 2007 cycle looks to be no different. The Red Raiders expect to host a trio of players from Brenham - Shawn Sullivan, Jarrett Lee, and Brandon Collins. Lee looks likely to receive his Tech offer during that visit.

Quarterback Brock Mansion is expected to make his trip since missing his originally planned trip. Tech is traditionally known for not making many scholarship offers until prospects visit campus. As the list grows, so does the potential for the target list to grow for Mike Leach and his staff.

Sooners still looking to Gilmer

Since receiving the signature of Gilmer, Texas wide receiver Manuel Johnson in 2005, Oklahoma has put special focus on the tradition-rich high school. Though their first major target for 2007, receiver Curtis Brown made an early commitment to Texas, several other options are on the table for OU.

In this year's cycle, linebacker Dominique Buchanan has already grabbed three offers from Oklahoma State, Mississippi State, and Kansas State.

The Cowboys hold the early lead. But, Buchanan is planning tripping to Norman for a camp this summer. His relationship with players like Sooner receiver Johnson is still strong.

Buchanan says that Johnson had a lot to do with recruiters heading to Gilmer in the first place.

"They brought them in and the recruiters came after them," Buchanan said about players like Johnson. "Those guys like Manuel and Kevin Hollis started this."

The big story may be in 2008.

Running back Justin Johnson, Manuel Johnson's cousin, has already drawn hefty comparisons to Adrian Peterson. Labeled as a big bruising running back that also plays at linebacker, Johnson describes his playing style as "violent."

That nasty attitude on both sides of the ball has schools like Texas, Texas A&M, Kansas State, and Oklahoma showing tons of interest.

"Manuel got him interested in Oklahoma," Johnson's guardian Todd Robison said. "He was also on hand in Norman for their junior day."

Johnson says that having his cousin at OU helped him strike up a relationship with the Sooner running back that he's being compared to.

"We've become friends because I've been over to Oklahoma a few times to see my cousin," 2008 prospect Johnson said about Peterson. "A.D. is from East Texas, so we have that and a lot of other things in common."

It looks like Oklahoma is going to be a common name around Gilmer for years to come.

LSU starts well in Texas

One out-of-state team that knows the importance of recruiting Texas is LSU. The Tigers have consistently been competition for in-state schools. They started off in usual fashion with an early commitment from Port Arthur (Texas) Memorial cornerback Barry Valcin.

The 5-foot-11, 177-pounder, who looks more physically ready for Division I football than most, is a legitimate speed threat and LSU recruiter Bradley Dale Peveto reeled this one in early.

The interesting note was that Valcin actually made his commitment several weeks ago. Things were kept quiet for some time.

"They have a nice campus," Valcin told TigerBait.com publisher Mike Scarborough. "The academic program really stands out along with their commitment to their players."

So far, the Tigers have offered at least nine players in Texas. The most recently reported was Waller running back Cody Johnson.

Plentiful year in the Metroplex

It's no secret that Dallas and Houston are two of the top cities in the country for college recruiters in search of talent. This year the northern metropolis is staking their claim on 2007.

Two of the state's top players, Tray Allen and John Chiles, both hail from the DFW area. Other heavily targeted prospects seem to show up by the day.

Irving (Texas) MacArthur holds four prospects for 2007 that are expected to receive Division I attention. Athlete Ron Brooks and safety Bret Harris already hold offers. Defensive lineman Kelly Griffin and Tom Wilson are also expected to catch up in the near future.

Cedar Hill's class is being hailed as the best ever from the school by coach Joey McGuire. Currently, there are four players on the roster with scholarship offers. Wide receivers William Cole and Romie Blaylock both have multiple options to choose from.

The Garland area is not shy on playmakers either. Both Garland and South Garland High School have more than one Division I caliber player.

After last year's top receiver, Phillip Payne, signed on the dotted line for Texas, a host of other players took his place on the recruiting radar at South Garland. Safety Tejay Johnson has two offers from Oklahoma State and Georgia Tech already. Defensive tackle Demarcus Lattire also has an offer from the Cowboys and receiver John Turner has an offer from Missouri.

Garland's big playmaker Malcolm Williams is just one of at least five prospects that are expecting big time college attention. Big back Johnny Wooten has one offer from Texas A&M while defensive end Marquis Frazier is expecting his stock to rise this spring.

Lancaster is home to a dynamic duo in Anthony Morgan and Stephen Thomas. Lancaster assistant Cliff Keeling says that Morgan and Thomas are going to have a tough decision to make with numerous offers on the table.

Thomas transferred from North Mesquite this winter and Keeling says his grades are on the right track.

Dallas city schools are no stranger to having big time prospects. The 2007 classes should not be much different. Skyline's Christian Scott is said to be more heavily recruited than last year's Rivals100 member Michael Morgan. Sinatra Wallace and Terrael Williams also are in the offer club as well.

Rivals100 linebacker Richetti Jones isn't having much of a problem picking up interest either. The Dallas Lincoln product has Texas leading but also holds offers from Baylor, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Nebraska, and Texas A&M.

Arlington schools hold the likes of Chez Thomas, Chris Jones, Derrius Bell, Julian Herron, and Andre Richardson who are all claming offers. Plano checks in with at least two top prospects in Texas commit Keenan Robinson and offensive/defensive lineman Ben Wells.

Etc.

Southern Cal is showing up on the radar in Texas again after picking up two players last year from the Lone Star State (Emmanuel Moody and Michael Morgan). Defensive lineman Richetti Jones and Stephen Thomas are both claiming heavy interest from the Trojans. Thomas' coaches at Lancaster have been receiving several calls from assistant Ken Norton Jr. in recent weeks. Of the seven listed quarterback prospects that Nebraska has offered, three of those are in the state of Texas.


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