Back in the late 1970s, coaches flocked to Sealy, Texas, a small town now populated by just over 5,000 souls roughly 50 miles west of downtown Houston on Interstate 10, to see native son Eric Dickerson, the big, strong, violent runner who later starred at SMU before turning in a Hall-of-Fame career in the NFL.
More than 20 years later, college coaches once again made the trek, this time to see Dickerson's cousin, 2013 prospect Ricky Seals-Jones, a basketball and football star who had his choice of college destinations before ending his recruitment in late February and committing to the Texas Longhorns. Rated by ESPN No. 7 nationally and No. 13 nationally by Rivals, Seals-Jones could eventually be rated a five-star prospect by all the major services.
At 6'5 and 220 pounds, the kid known as RSJ is a rare combination of size and athleticism who stars on both sides of the ball for Sealy, playing quarterback, wide receiver, and safety. At the college level, he'll start out at wide receiver for the Longhorns, but could quickly grow into a flex tight end or even an in-line tight end, as his frame has the room to eventually carry 250 pounds with relative ease. There are also some evaluators who believe that Seals-Jones has as much upside on the defensive side of the ball, where he would likely play outside linebacker until potentially growing into a defensive end.
Seeing the Sealy star excel with the ball in his hands in high school provides ample evidence to see him as a potential star receiver at the next level. From the quarterback spot, RSJ is extremely dangerous in the zone-read game, especially hitting seams up the middle running the inverted veer and blowing up angles of smaller defenders with his deceptive speed.
As with many tall athletes, his strength isn't in his first step, but rather in the amount of ground that he covers after quickly reaching top speed, when he consistently outruns defensive backs in the 3A classification, aided by exceptional lateral quickness at jump-cut ability at 6'5 that allows him to break runs outside when necessary and take the edge to find the endzone.
Of course, since the dual-sport athlete hasn't spent a great deal of time at wide receiver, there are those who question his ability to quickly translate to a position that requires precision in route-running to create separation. While his height and any ability he can show to use his body positioning to strong effect will mitigate any potential issues there, his performance at a Next Level Athlete showcase, well, showcased his ability to sink his hips smoothly to create separation, use his hands to beat press coverage, and the hands to attack the ball away from his body and outside his frame -- all the attributes of a natural at the position.
In regards to his eventual projection as a tight end, the major question mark becomes how he transitions to blocking defensive ends, as the Bryan Harsin offense at Texas will consistently force him to block defensive ends one-on-one, a tall task for any collegiate player. On film, there obviously isn't any evidence of RSJ working that closely to the line of scrimmage, but his film does feature several plays where he cracks back on unsuspecting defenders and delivers some wicked hits.
The technique can be taught and the strength will come with consistent offseasons in the weight room, the latter an area in which Seals-Jones has been unable to reap the full benefits due to his basketball commitments. But the number one factor that will likely influence his eventual success as a blocker at tight end will be his effort level and his willingness to put such effort forth in limited opportunities in high school is a positive indication of that moving forward.
If the speed and size combination for Ricky Seals-Jones isn't enough to project success at Texas, his remarkable feet, evidence of natural pass-catching ability, and willingness to make defenders pay for failing to keep their heads on a swivel all bode well for RSJ to make his older cousin proud.
ATH Ricky Seals-Jones #4 *COMMITTED TO TEXAS* Sealy HS (Junior Highlights) (via CountdownCityPreps)