I spent Sunday in North Texas, at Under Armour’s Dallas regional camp — one in a series of camps the company puts on around the country in advance of the Under Armour All-America Game in Orlando in January. This one was chock full of high school talent.
Because of its population, it’s not a surprise that Texas is one of the three most fertile states for college football recruiting. Here are some of the best players I saw on Sunday, mostly from Texas but with some players from surrounding states mixed in. Most are from the class of 2019, but a couple of underclassmen had good days, too.
I really like new Ole Miss commit Grant Tisdale, a four-star dual-threat from Allen (Texas). Tisdale isn’t that big, but he has a strong arm and looks nimble in his footwork. I don’t know if he’ll be an electric running QB, but I bet he can make enough plays with his legs to keep defenses off balance and help him punish them with downfield throws. Tisdale will hear out other schools that recruit him, but he told me it’d take something dramatic to flip him. He takes pride in the idea of being part of the Rebels’ post-NCAA sanctions turnaround.
“They’re one of those programs that they’re kind of in between from good and bad,” he said. “I wanna make them a great team, so that’s where I’m trying to work at right now.”
The other most notable quarterbacks in attendance were all 2020 prospects (current high school sophomores) or younger. Ja’Quinden Jackson, from Duncanville (Texas), is a big talent who’s getting recruited as both a quarterback and an “athlete.” Baylor, Texas Tech, Texas, Texas A&M, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Missouri, Texas State, and Illinois have offered him scholarships, among a couple of others, he said. It’s early.
Oklahoma 2020 commit Drew Sanders is the C.C. Sabathia of college football recruiting: a really big lefty who throws an accurate ball. He’ll do big things in Norman.
You’re old, and Deion Sanders has a son who’s now a recruit. Shedeur Sanders is a current high school freshman, but he showed out at the camp, too. I liked Ken Seals, a 2020 prospect from Weatherford (Texas) who has early offers from UTEP and Montana State. I expect more will come his way as his recruitment rolls on over the next year and a half.
The best player was probably Jase McClellan, a 2020 Oklahoma commit. (Oklahoma commits were a theme of this event. More on them later.) McClellan looks like a classic speed back to me, but he’s strong enough to grow into more. He has 20 scholarship offers, and he’s planning additional (unspecific) visits after a stop at OU’s spring game.
I didn’t get a chance to talk to him, but uncommitted Lone Star (Texas) RB Darrin Smith is an impressive runner. The 247Sports Crystal Ball thinks he’s going to TCU.
Receiver and tight end
Two players stood out above the rest: four-star Allen (Texas) receiver Theo Wease, who’s uncommitted, and four-star Prestonwood (Texas) Christian tight end Austin Stogner, another OU commit.
Wease is currently a Composite four-star, but he looks like a five-star to me. He’s a precise route runner and has a really sticky pair of hands. He regularly cooked a pretty talented crop of defensive backs, though he missed out on some long catches because of under-thrown balls by the quarterbacks at the camp. Wease is taking an early official visit to Oklahoma next weekend. Alabama, LSU, Oklahoma, USC, and Texas A&M are his top five, and he’ll eventually cut that list to three before going to one. A&M’s made some progress under Jimbo Fisher’s staff, after Kevin Sumlin’s never offered Wease a scholarship.
Stogner seems pretty firmly committed to Oklahoma, and given that he’s a pass-catching tight end who loves to flex out off the line and run deep routes, why wouldn’t he be? Watching TE Mark Andrews put up massive numbers with Baker Mayfield over the last few seasons has been a big deal to Stogner, who committed in June 2017.
“They space him out and then run routes,” Stogner said. “He’s a priority in their offense.”
He says his recruitment’s over. He doesn’t plan to listen to other offers. (Of course, if he changes his mind, he can do that right up until he signs, probably in December.)
Four-star Millwood (Okla.) receiver Demaryion Houston might have been the best pure pass-catcher at the event. He’s a listed 6 feet, and I’m not even sure he’s that tall, but he’ll be a productive college receiver because he catches anything that touches his hands.
The best player at the whole camp was a center, and he’s an absolute unit.
This is my fourth class covering the recruiting camps circuit, and Crandall (Texas) product Branson Bragg is one of the two or three best interior linemen I’ve seen. He’s an absolute bully who spent his day turning away defensive lineman after defensive lineman in drills. He talks like a offensive lineman, too.
“I love it,” the 6’4, 293-pounder told me. “It’s close quarters. You’re next to your guys down in the interior. You just get to smash people, smash D linemen. I call ‘em roaches. It’s like cockroaches; you gotta smash ‘em. That’s our job as offensive linemen, so I love it.”
Texas is the favorite for Bragg, but keep an eye on Stanford, the power program whose meaty, power-blocking ethos most matches Bragg’s. He gets as excited as the college football internet does when Stanford puts eight offensive linemen on the field at once.
“We run the same type of stuff at my school,” he said.
He has 21 offers. A few others that stand out: A&M, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, LSU, Arkansas, and Michigan State. He has a top eight out now, but don’t expect him to go to any school other than those. He’s not sure of a commitment timeline.
Other standouts included 2020 tackles Jake Majors and Eli Russ. I also liked 2019 tackle Preston Wilson, who repeatedly turned away good players in one-on-one drills. Wilson has listed offers from Texas Tech, Northwestern, Boise State, and Kansas, among others.
Four-star Nolan Catholic (Texas) edge defender NaNa Osafo-Mensah is going to be a star. It’s not clear if he’s a defensive end or an outside linebacker, but that difference might just be semantics. He’s a pass-rusher, and he’ll use his good length (about 6’4) and speed to torch a lot of OTs. Osafo-Mensah has 26 offers, and he’s releasing a top two on Thursday. I expect Texas will be one of those schools, and Notre Dame probably will be the other, but I’m less sure about that. Michigan, Arkansas, and SMU have all pushed hard for him of late.
De’Monte Russell, a four-star end from Provine (Miss.), looked good in drills. He’s kind of in-between a speed rusher and a three-technique run-stopper, but I think he can do either job well in college. Trace Ford, a 247 three-star from Santa Fe (Okla.), will probably become a four-star sometime soon. He lists offers from Arkansas and Cal, plus some Group of 5 schools.
I always feel bad about this position group at camps, because linebackers have few opportunities to prove anything other than that they can cover pretty well in space. They don’t do one-on-one pass-rushing drills, and there’s no hitting. A non-contact camp only tells you so much about any player, but it says especially little about a linebacker. I kept noticing Bryce Robinson, a Sachse (Texas) inside backer who has listed Group of 5 offers from UTSA, North Texas, and ULM. I think he’ll be a good college player.
The country’s No. 1 safety, A&M commit Brian Williams, was there. He was limited in workouts and didn’t cover receivers in one-on-ones, but he showed the same speed and fluidity in limited action that you’d expect from a player ranked as highly as him. He sounds pretty solid to A&M, where he wants to learn to be an engineer.
There might be an A&M-vs. Alabama battle for four-star cornerback Jeffery Carter, from Aledo (Texas). The Aggies are his Crystal Ball favorite, and he expects to visit College Station next weekend. Texas, Oklahoma, Oregon, USC, and Penn State remain in the picture. Carter was the best lockdown corner I’ve watched yet this year.
Last year, Texas signed the best class of DBs in the recruiting rankings era. The Longhorns signed six of the top 25 defensive backs in the country, all of them from in state. I wonder if A&M might swing that balance this year, due to a combination of momentum from Fisher’s hiring and a simple depth chart logjam in Austin. The Aggies have a real opportunity.