GRAPEVINE, TX -- On Saturday morning and early afternoon at Oak Grove Park on the banks of scenic Lake Grapevine, an impressive collection of Metroplex talent showcased their skills in the Colleyville Heritage 7-on-7 State Qualifying Tournament.
At the end of the day, Colleyville Heritage, led by 2013 star quarterback Cody Thomas, and state power Southlake Carroll, missing their own signal-caller, 2013 Texas A&M commit Kenny Hill, both qualified for the 2012 state tournament, which will be held in College Station from July 19th to the 21st. Colleyville Heritage defeated Lucas Lovejoy, while Southlake Carroll triumphed over Coppell.
The highlight of the day was probably the match-up between Dallas Jesuit and Denton Guyer during pool play. It was a close affair that featured big plays from both of the offenses. It also came down to the wire, as a late interception from 2014 Guyer quarterback Jerrod Heard killed an opportunity for the Wildcats and Jesuit eventually took advantage when 2013 Texas commit Jake Oliver elevated in the endzone for a touchdown that allowed a two-point conversion for the final 41-40 margin. Drama worthy of the state tournament, even if neither team made it out of pool play.
In a loaded field, several prospects stood out:
2013 Colleyville Heritage quarterback Cody Thomas -- The Oklahoma commit was excellent on the day and was probably the top player at the event, showing why he's considered the best pure passing prospect in the state. At a legitimate 6-5, he's an imposing presence on the field and flicks the ball with ease to any part of the field, while also showing the ability to change speeds to put touch on deep balls or increase his velocity in the short passing game.
He threw an interception as I was walking up, so he didn't make the strongest first impression, but he wasn't noticeably forcing the ball the rest of the day. At other times, he took four-second calls rather than force the ball into coverage, a strong indication that he values possession of the football.
2013 Dallas Jesuit wide receiver Jake Oliver -- The 6-4, 200-pound Texas commit hasn't grown noticeably stronger in the last year, but did show off the same skillset that made him a standout at last summer's state tournament. There will always be concerns about his speed until he can prove that he can separate in college, but in high school, he uses the speed that he does have effectively, as he changes speeds to set up defensive backs and runs crisp, clean routes to create the necessary separation of his breaks.
When the ball goes get in his vicinity, Oliver makes the play the vast majority of the time. He has sure hands, catches the ball away from his body inside his frame and can also extend outside of his frame. In addition, the leaping ability he used on the game-winning touchdown catch against Guyer allows him to make plays over smaller defensive backs, while his body control almost allowed him to bring in an extremely difficult pass along the sideline in the endzone, even though he was ruled out of bounds.
2013 Denton Guyer wide receiver Ellis Jefferson -- In looking the big receiver (6-4, 200 pounds), it's somewhat surprising that he doesn't have a more impressive offer list based solely on his size -- there have been stories about coaches offering players based on nothing more than the way they look. Jefferson wasn't clearly Heard's safety net on the day, but he did demonstrate his good speed and elevated for a contested jumpball in the endzone early in the game against Jesuit, maintaining control to the ground despite the best efforts of a defensive back.
Look for the imposing wide receiver to pick up a few more offers in the coming days as he makes the rounds on the camp circuit.
2013 Arlington Bowie cornerback Steve Wesley -- In a blowout win over an overmatched Azle squad, I was speaking with Wesley about his recruitment when he was called back into the game and promptly intercepted a pass he returned for a touchdown. A limited snapshot, to be sure, but a strong first impression. The longtime TCU lean has offers from Illinois, Kansas, Wake Forest, and West Virginia and plans on camping at LSU, TCU, and Kansas this summer. He believes that Oklahoma State could be close to offering.
2014 Denton Guyer quarterback Jerrod Heard -- In strong contention for the title of top quarterback in the state for his class, Heard started as a sophomore at Guyer and looked in full command on the offense -- a maturity beyond his years. Still at a slight 6-3, the true dual threat will have to add some muscle frame to his frame to survive the pounding he will take in college football.
As a quarterback, Heard has good mechanics except for his elbow, which he would be well served to keep higher while in the pocket to further shorten what is already a pretty compact throwing motion. He has plenty of arm strength, as evidenced on multiple throws well across the field.
At times, he can spin the football with the best of them, but the ball did flutter on him when throwing downfield, though it didn't seem to impact his accuracy, which was pinpoint the great majority of the time. Heard isn't a full-fledged gunslinger in the mold of a Jay Cutler or Brett Favre, but he did force the ball into small windows on several plays against Jesuit, one of which led to that late interception -- it's possible that maturing in terms of working through his reads could solve that issue.
With offers from LSU, Arizona State, and Nebraska, Heard is already a hot prospect on the recruiting trail. After camping at Oklahoma on Sunday, Heard said that he plans on visiting Austin for the three-day camp this week and also wants to take a summer unofficial visit to Baton Rouge. Camps at Texas A&M, Baylor, and TCU are also on the schedule.
2014 Arlington Bowie safety Edwin Freeman -- One of the rare prospects who likes to give a lower than actual weight, the 6-1, 205-pounder is already a big safety with months to go before his junior season begins. It's possible that he ends up at linebacker with his solid build and long arms -- he could play at 230 pounds in college. Despite his size, he moves like a smaller player, which could help his case if he does decide that he wants to stay at safety. Against Mansfield Summit, he did give up a long touchdown catch when he got caught underneath the receiver, but made up for it with an interception in the corner of the endzone that saved another touchdown.
2014 Lewisville Hebron safety Jamal Adams -- Already considered a four-star prospect and Top 100 player nationally by 247Sports, Adams has ideal bloodlines as the son of former New York Giants running back George Adams. He looked just over 5-10 and, like Freeman, has long arms and wide shoulders.
While he wasn't as vocal as his father, who coaches the Hebron 7-on-7 squad, he did communicate well with his teammates and showed off his closing speed on several plays, breaking up a pass on one and intercepting another by elevating near the sideline. The ability to plant and explode with a first step is crucial for any defensive back and Adams did it multiple times against Arlington Martin.
And while 7-on-7 doesn't allow tackling, Adams looked like the type of player capable of making receivers pay for catching the ball over the middle of the field, as he had to show evident restraint not to decapitate a receiver on such a play that would have ended poorly for the Martin pass-catcher had both had pads on.