Image via 247Sports
Every year there is a position in the state of Texas that produces the most talent. In 2014 it was the DB’s, in 2015 it was the trio of elite RB’s, in 2016 it was the trio of safeties, and in 2017 there wasn’t a dominate position but the story line was that only 2 of the Top 10 recruits in the state stayed in Texas to play college football. In 2018 if you ask anyone who rules the state, it’s the DB’s and it looks like the strongest year that one single position has had in a class since I started covering recruiting at the end of the 2014 class. Currently the composite rankings have 7 DB’s in the Top 13 recruits in the state of Texas, yes SEVEN. One other reason for this is that it’s a bad year for elite RB’s, QB’s, and OL in the state. I’ve spoken to all of the DB’s on that list, but I wanted to hear from some of their coaches on what makes them so good. Here is my ranking of these 7 elite DB’s, and let me tell you this took me much longer than I’m proud to say. There are some studs in this class heading into their SR seasons and I’m sure these personal rankings will change between now and NSD multiple times.
- CB Anthony Cook
- CB Jalen Green
- S Caden Sterns (Texas commit)
- S Leon O’Neal Jr
- CB D’Shawn Jamison
- S BJ Foster
- S DeMarvion Overshown
And I was able to talk with coaches close to all of these guys outside of Overshown.
Why not start with the Alpha Dog? That guy is Hou. Lamar CB Anthony Cook. At 6 foot 170, he has room to fill out physically, but his technique has every HS and college DB coach drolling over him. He doesn’t have the elite sub 4.4 speed that helps some guys make up for their lack of technique. He is like a unicorn of HS football, nobody is this advanced at such a young age. He reminds of now Ohio State CB Jeffrey Okudah in that regard. I spoke to his HS DB coach about what makes him so good. He told me, ” A kid that has a work ethic that’s 2nd on none.
Tremendous size, technician, skill for the DB position. During the Camp circuit he was confident in his ability to cover the best WR’s, which resulted to him being ranked as a top guy at his position. He also enjoyed and thrived on competing vs the best WR’s, which speaks to his confidence. He has the ability and techniques to play both press man and zone coverage’s. He has a vision not only to play in a major D1 program but also in the NFL, which I believe he will because of his desire to be best at his position. And lastly, he very humble for a kid that has received so much attention.” His level headed demeanor is another reason why this guy is the Alpha Dog of the state, puts his head down and works.
Next up is a true “island corner” in Hou. Heights CB Jalen Green. At 6’1 175, Green has good height and will still add weight to his frame. Green is a guy that when you go to his games, you’re bored because the other team will rarely even throw to his side. And that’s what one of his coaches told me in saying “he’s done it for two years now, so that’s the plan in 2017.” Green is like Cook in regards to not having the 4.4 speed, but Green is more of a physical guy who bullies WR’s at the line but can also run with the best of them. Green rarely talks to the media but is the total team player for his HS team, as you could see him at QB, WR, RB, S, and CB. But that hasn’t stopped his development as an elite CB prospect as it sometimes does for other recruits.
Next up is the gazelle who roams the secondary in Cibolo Steele S Caden Sterns. A guy at 6’2 190, who is someone you’d say plays faster than his 40 time. He’s marked at a 4.62 but his instincts make up for it big time. He also has what is likely the best ball skills out of any DB in the state, as he was an all-district selection as a freshman at WR and played a lot of WR last year on a team that made it all the way to the state title game in 6A. One of Sterns’ coaches told me “His field vision and his length play a key roll in his success and how he plays at a high level.” And I think one of the most underrated attributes for a S is their football IQ, as it is a position that is much more difficult to play than most think. At 190 pounds, Sterns looks like a guy that could add another solid 20 pounds before he plays his first game at Texas and I know the Earl Thomas comparisons are going to be thrown around sooner than later.
Up next is the guy that will likely be one of the best motivational speakers out there after his football career is over, if he chooses to go down that road in Cy-Springs S Leon O’Neal Jr. A guy that will lower the boom over the middle any chance he gets, and that’s the main reason he burst onto the scene after he released his Jr film. But there is something about O’Neal that you just can’t say about most other recruits, and one of his coaches told me “He’s not just a ‘leader’ but he is really a guy that others attract to, and follow his lead. Most of the time people are just blowing smoke on their guy when they say that, but he’s a true leader.” O’Neal is a guy that has superstar written all over him, but what can I say all of these guys do.
Now we get to the super athlete, in Hou. Lamar CB D’Shawn Jamison. Only 5’10 175 pounds, but Jamison runs a legit 4.48 and can jump 38+ inches. That is why there are some college coaches out there that like Jamison more than his teammate, Anthony Cook, because you can’t teach 4.4 speed. Though Jamison lacks the stud size that so many love in CB’s in today’s age, he is one of the more physical CB’s in this class. Here’s what his DB coach had to say about him, “Kid is just as competitive as anyone. Even though he started to emerge later than Cook, Jamison never lacked the skills to dominate as a DB. In fact he has played all 5 defensive back positions in our 4-2-5 scheme. If you watch his film closely you will see him register a sack when needed, spy the QB when needed, return an Interception for a touchdown, and return a kick for a touchdown. He call do it all. He is all a valuable member of the track team. He has ran the fastest time in shuttle 3.95. Can bench 300lbs. Runs a 4.4 in 40. He’s playing with a chip on his shoulder as he believes he’s not given the respect deserves.” Funny thing is that I first noticed him when watching Anthony Cook’s film, and now I think he could end up as a Top 100 player nationally come NSD 2018.
Then we’ve got the country boy in Angleton S BJ Foster. Ranked as the #1 S in the nation but #6 on my list of DB’s in the state of Texas? Not going to lie, seeing how he bounces back from his torn ACL could shoot him back into the Top 3 quickly but that is a bit of an unknown right now. Foster plans to be fully cleared in June and The Opening Finals in Oregon this summer will be his first time at 100% since his JR season. He has all the tools to be superstar S, but you wouldn’t know it by how little he talks. This is what his coach had to say about him, “When on the field BJ puts all his focus on getting better. As he has grown older he has become more of a leader on & off the field. BJ is a hard working & quiet kid who will make a tackle on defense and then the next series on offense go rush for a touchdown. Comes from a good family and is due for a big year coming off the ACL tear.” I think the biggest thing with Foster is that he’s just scratching the surface of his abilities, as he’s not out training with the elite trainers all the time and comes from a smaller area.
Last on the list is the late bloomer in Arp S DeMarvion Overshown. At 6’4 200 pounds, if he stays at S at the next level he could end up being #1 on this list after the college careers are over. The fact that Overshown plays at a small school and is new to the recruiting world and we haven’t seen him too much vs the top talent is the reason some aren’t sure to think of him as a project, or a 5-star right now. Overshown is a machine in HS as he’s totaled 118 and 153 tackles during his sophomore and junior seasons at Arp. Some think he could grow into an OLB at the next level. All I know is that I’m excited to see him grow over the next few years.
Now my dream is to look back on this article in 3-4 years and see all 7 of these guys go as first rounders in the NFL draft, and that for me is the funnest part of this business.