SportzBuzz - March 2023
While the path to securing a scholarship to play college football has brought on greater challenges this year, local schools still fared impressively on National Signing Day.
“College football’s new transfer portal rules means there’s less and less openings for players right out of high school to secure scholarships,” said Stratford head football coach Todd Rankin. “Many college recruiters are opting to pursue players from other colleges rather than incoming freshmen. If all that weren’t enough, a lot of college players are still making use of their extra year of eligibility granted to them due to the Covid season. So, there’s players out there in their fifth, sixth, or even seventh year of college football.”
Stratford will be represented at the next level by several players. Highly touted tight end Hawkins Polley signed with Baylor during the early signing period in December. In addition, Stratford offensive lineman James Tejeda signed with Mary Hardin-Baylor while offensive lineman Hudson Perroni is a preferred walk-on at Rice University.
In addition, Rankin expects several other players to sign in the coming weeks with Division II and III schools, including his son and quarterback Nash Rankin. Rankin has committed to play at Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene. In addition, wide receiver Triston Williams, linebacker Cooper King, defensive lineman Austin LaRue, and defensive end Jared Botary are all expected to make their official commitments in the coming weeks.
National Signing Day was a successful one for the Lamar Texans, who had five players officially commit to play college football, with more players expected to do so in the coming weeks. The signees so far include Carson Skotak (Amherst), Deuce Connor (Trinity Valley Community College), quarterback Kenneth Rosenthal (Oklahoma Baptist), defensive tackle Jarvis Butler (Midwestern State), and defensive back Omarion Marshall (Texas A&M Kingsville).
“I think what stands out with this group is the academic side of things. Kenneth has a full scholarship with a 4.0 GPA and Carson going to Amherst is impressive,” said Lamar head football coach Mike Lindsey. “Our starting running back Jack Gonzalez was accepted to West Point on a non-football offer, so we’re also pretty proud of him.”
Lindsey echoed the sentiments of Coach Rankin regarding the additional difficulties for players to secure football scholarship in 2023. “It’s been a tough time for high school players with the transfer portal and a lot of college players having that extra year of eligibility due to Covid. There’s just less and less spots available for high school kids,” said Lindsey.
Still, the future looks promising for Lamar regarding football recruiting with four of its underclassmen already receiving offers to play major college football. Junior wide receiver Tristen Brown, junior running back and quarterback Jordan Reaves, sophomore offensive lineman Dramodd Odoms, and sophomore running back Brandon Thomas are being recruited by schools such as Texas Tech, TCU, Houston, Penn State, and other top programs.
A year after his older brother and fellow Kinkaid teammate Dillon Bell signed to play for the national champion Georgia Bulldogs, Micah Bell is heading to play major collegiate football for Notre Dame University. The younger of the Bell brothers made his commitment official during the early signing period in December but was recognized in an on-campus ceremony that included Kinkaid teammate Aedan Hogan. Hogan will play offensive line for Delta State University in Mississippi, a perennial powerhouse in Division II football.
“Much like his older brother Dillon, Micah is just an outstanding kid who deserves the opportunity to play at Notre Dame. My favorite thing about both Dillon and Micah is that more than being great football players they are extremely humble and will do whatever it takes for the sake of the team,” said Kinkaid head football coach Nathan Larned. “As for Aedan, he’s a kid who put in the extra work that led to him being an All-SPC player on our offensive line. He’s also one of the nicest persons you’ll ever going to meet.”
The St. John’s Mavericks are sending a foursome of players to the college football ranks, including tight end Pierce Leverett, who’ll play in the Ivy League for Brown University. “Pierce came to us as a ninth grader who thought of himself as only a basketball player. He’s simply grown and blossomed on the football field,” said Mavericks head coach Kevin Veltri.
“In addition, linebacker Dax Garza and kicker/punter Caden Perry are both heading to Division III Bowdoin College in Maine, while offensive lineman Ben Perkins was leaning towards Washington University in St. Louis. “
Editor’s note: Todd Freed is the host and executive producer of H-Town High School Sports, which airs Saturday at 10:30 p.m. on CW39 and Monday-Thursday on AT&T SportsNet SW. To submit high school sports news for possible inclusion in SportzBuzz, please email [email protected].
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