MID-SOUTH RECRUITING: Could American Athletic Conference schools soon come calling for Dallas’ Otis Blanton?

DALLAS — Richardson (Texas) Pearce High’s football team recently wrapped up a season mired by unfavorable results, considering the Mustangs dropped seven of their last eight outings and limped to a 3-7 finish.

OtisStill, all wasn’t lost for Pearce running back Otis Blanton, who was as good as advertised for a player who boasts lofty aspirations of playing at the collegiate level.

A speedy 5-foot-7, 160-pound athlete, Blanton enjoyed a pivotal junior season in which he finished the campaign as Pearce’s leading rusher.

In making a career-best nine starts, Blanton demonstrated time and again that he possesses the mechanics to put his football smarts on display at the next level, having compiled 655 yards on a team-high 144 carries while producing six touchdowns.

Add to the fact that his 4.5 yards per carry were second only to teammate Hank Hughes, and it’s no wonder he had drawn rave reviews from Mustang coach Randy Robertson and his staff.

By and large, it was because of his assertiveness and keen desire to progress since spring and summer drills that Blanton had gone to great lengths to ensure this would be the season he generates the attention of college scouts and recruiters.

WORK HORSE --- In making a career-best nine starts, Richardson (Texas) Pearce running back Otis Blanton demonstrated time and again that he possesses the mechanics to put his football smarts on display at the next level, having compiled 655 yards on a team-high 144 carries while producing six touchdowns. (Photos submitted by V. Abron)

WORK HORSE — In making a career-best nine starts, Richardson (Texas) Pearce running back Otis Blanton demonstrated time and again that he possesses the mechanics to put his football smarts on display at the next level, having compiled 655 yards on a team-high 144 carries while producing six touchdowns. (Photos submitted by V. Abron)

Mission accomplished.

According to Blanton, who also spent time at the cornerback position, he garnered interest from Baylor, North Texas, and Texas Tech, a list he hopes will expand in the foreseeable future.

“The reason I love football is because I love to compete with other people,” Blanton told Sports Journalist Andre Johnson during a recent interview. “And I love the game and it keeps me out of trouble.”

A crafty, efficient student athlete who has assumed the businesslike approach both on and off the field, Blanton acknowledges amongst his chief ambitions as he prepares for offseason workouts and summer 7-on-7 camps is to do whatever is necessary to ensure Pearce atones for its lethargic 2015 showing.

A team that will return the nucleus of its starters, the future for Blanton and Co. certainly appears bright.

“I am very happy that he decided to stick with football, because there were other sports in mind, but we talked about (football) and he has stayed with it,” said Vincent Abron, Blanton’s father. “His coaches have been very helpful, especially his position. I will say that he has helped Otis come a long way along with the (Robertson).”

Besides his coaches entrusting him to assume the bulk of the reps in what appeared to be a progressing rushing attack this season, Blanton relishes the fact that his family exemplified solid support during what was a pivotal junior season.

STOCK RISING? According to Blanton, who also spent time at the cornerback position, he garnered interest from Baylor, North Texas, and Texas Tech, a list he hopes will expand in the foreseeable future.

STOCK RISING? According to Blanton, who also spent time at the cornerback position, he garnered interest from Baylor, North Texas, and Texas Tech, a list he hopes will expand in the foreseeable future.

“My dad and my big sister and my niece are my biggest fans,” Blanton said. “They have been to all of my games.”

As for the life lessons his coaches and family routinely offer, Blanton said such inspiration undoubtedly has made a world of difference in a year in which he was as good as advertised.

So much for a losing record.

“They always tell me to work hard and stay focused and stay out of trouble,” Blanton said. “(With football), I’ve got to keep my family close.”

A trend at least three colleges have already taken into account.

 

AndreEDITOR’S NOTE: If you have a child or team that is seeking exposure and would like an in-depth sports news story, call Reporter Andre Johnson at 901-690-6587 or Facebook message him for details under “Andre T. Johnson.”

Andre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. A 2000 graduate of the University of Memphis School of Journalism, Johnson covers the NBA Southwest Division from Dallas, Texas. To reach Johnson, send an email to [email protected] Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.

 

MID-SOUTH RECRUITING: University of Houston among AAC schools eyeing Cedar Hill’s Xavier Hall

CEDAR HILL, Texas — In case you don’t know him, allow Xavier Hall to introduce himself.

For starters, Hall is senior middle linebacker for a perennial power Cedar Hill team that is amongst the finest in Texas.

STAR WATCH --- As arguably one of the Cedar Hill's most efficient and durable pass rushers who has built a reputation for providing fits to the opposition, Xavier Hall has gone to great lengths to boost his recruiting stock, considering he is currently ranked as the 14th best high school linebackers in Texas, according to Maxpreps.com. (Photos submitted by J. Hall)

STAR WATCH — As arguably one of the Cedar Hill’s most efficient and durable pass rushers who has built a reputation for providing fits to the opposition, Xavier Hall has gone to great lengths to boost his recruiting stock, considering he is currently ranked as the 14th best high school linebackers in Texas, according to Maxpreps.com. (Photos submitted by J. Hall)

As arguably one of the Longhorns’ most efficient and durable pass rushers who has built a reputation for providing fits to the opposition, Hall has gone to great lengths to boost his recruiting stock, considering he is currently ranked as the 14th best high school linebacker in Texas, according to Maxpreps.com.

Add to the fact this resilient athlete — the nation’s 91st overall player for the Class of 2016 by Maxpreps — has improved immensely in the offseason, and it’s no wonder that Hall appears well on his way to signing a National Letter of Intent less than three months from now.

National Signing Day is February 3.

As Hall, 6-foot, 195-pounder tells it, given he has been afforded the golden opportunity to put his skills on display for a tradition-rich Cedar Hill program is amongst the greatest factors that has given way to his drawing rave reviews from a host of college scouts and recruiters.

“My family always says don’t be scared to go after what I want and I should know how to get it on my own,” Hall told Sports Journalist Andre Johnson during a recent interview. “Being a football player is exciting. It keeps me busy and there is never a dull moment, especially having my own decorated locker and being a part of an (animated) locker room.”

While establishing camaraderie with teammates has contributed mightily to his success on the field, whether his final prep season ends with a state championship or not, Hall doesn’t shy away from the notion that playing football on Saturdays around this time next year is undoubtedly his No. 1 priority. Hall3

After all, as far as he’s concerned, he senses he’s done the necessary things to sway colleges to extend to him a full ride scholarship.

“(Football) was the first sport I played and found a liking for it,” Hall said. “And also I felt it would be my gateway out of what people call the hood. My family has been very supportive of me and my choice of playing football. They always push me to my limit and tell me to strive for excellence.”

Fortunately for Hall, it’s safe to assume that a few colleges have discovered the true talent he has become since bursting on the high school scene four years ago.

That’s because according to Hall, the University of Houston, Southeastern Oklahoma State, Langston University, Lamar University, and Cisco Jr. College are amongst the schools that have expressed interest in him as his prep career draws near.

SUPER MOM --- Among Hall’s biggest supporter is his mother Jontil Hall, who has become a fixture at virtually each of her son’s games. In assessing her son’s career at Cedar Hill, Jontil Hall acknowledges she’s mostly impressed at how well-disciplined he’s been in what undoubtedly is a pivotal season for Xavier.

SUPER MOM — Among Hall’s biggest supporter is his mother Jontil Hall, who has become a fixture at virtually each of her son’s games. In assessing her son’s career at Cedar Hill, Jontil Hall acknowledges she’s mostly impressed at how well-disciplined he’s been in what undoubtedly is a pivotal season for Xavier.

Cedar Hill (9-1) plays Carroll (8-2) Friday night at 7:30 in the second round of the Texas Class 6A playoffs.

Among Hall’s biggest supporter is his mother Jontil Hall, who has become a fixture at virtually each of her son’s games. In assessing her son’s career at Cedar Hill, Jontil Hall acknowledges she’s mostly impressed at how well-disciplined he’s been in what undoubtedly is a pivotal season for Xavier.

“I wasn’t surprised to know he would play in high school because he played in middle school and also throughout pop warner (recreational league),” Jontil Hall said. “Words can’t express the happiness I feel for my son. Being a single mother hasn’t been easy, but very well worth it. I thank God that my son has kept a level head throughout all the struggles and cards he has been dealt.

Also, I’m proud to say that I’ve never had to go to school for any class skipping, disruptions, or fighting. My visit to school has only been for football. That’s a blessing.”

A blessing that, fortunately for Xavier Hall, appears likely to continue on Saturdays around this time next year.

AndreEDITOR’S NOTE: If you have a child or team that is seeking exposure and would like an in-depth sports news story, call Reporter Andre Johnson at 901-690-6587 or Facebook message him for details under “Andre T. Johnson.”

Andre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. A 2000 graduate of the University of Memphis School of Journalism, Johnson covers the NBA Southwest Division from Dallas, Texas. To reach Johnson, send an email to [email protected] Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.

MID-SOUTH RECRUITING: Horn Lake OL Nikolas Dean’s sights set on National Signing Day

WAR EAGLE --- Horn Lake High senior linebacker Nikolas Dean’s parents, Byron and Neketta Dean, said that while their son has endured his share of challenges during the course of his high school career, they are mostly impressed by how he has gone about assuming the businesslike approach for a player who’s auditioning for a full ride athletic scholarship. (Photos by N. Dean)

WAR EAGLE — Horn Lake High senior offensive lineman Nikolas Dean’s parents, Byron and Neketta Dean, said that while their son has endured his share of challenges during the course of his high school career, they are mostly impressed by how he has gone about assuming the businesslike approach for a player who’s auditioning for a full ride athletic scholarship. (Photos by N. Dean)

Although the 2015 season did not turn out the way Nikolas Dean had envisioned, the Horn Lake High offensive lineman nnow has his sights set on something that could very well set the tone for his young life for the next four years.

National Signing Day.

A 6-foot, 230-pound senior, Dean enjoyed a stellar career for the Eagles, although his final prep season ended with Horn Lake limping to a 2-10 finish.

Still, during a high school stint whereby Dean enjoyed success virtually on both sides of the ball for coach Brad Boyette’s squad, he’s confident he will fulfill his long-waited dream of putting his football skills on display at the collegiate level.

According to Dean, who is ranked as the 105th best player in tradition-rich Mississippi according to Maxpreps.com, he has generated interest from several schools, most notably Mississippi State, Jackson State, Grambling State, University of Memphis, and Ole Miss, among others.

National Signing Day is February 3.

When asked to assess his career his Horn Lake, Dean, a Carbondale, Illinois native, said he senses he had done enough to persuade college coaches to grant him the opportunity to play next Fall.

STELLAR AUDITION --- A 6-foot-1, 270-pound senior, Horn Lake's Nikolas Dean enjoyed a stellar career for the Eagles, although his final prep season ended with Horn Lake limping to a 2-10 finish.  Still, during a high school stint whereby Dean enjoyed success virtually on both side of the ball for coach Brad Boyette’s squad, he’s confident he will fulfill his long-waited dream of putting his football skills on display at the collegiate level. (Photos submitted by N. Dean)

STELLAR AUDITION — A 6-foot-1, 270-pound senior, Horn Lake’s Nikolas Dean enjoyed a stellar career for the Eagles, although his final prep season ended with Horn Lake limping to a 2-10 finish.
Still, during a high school stint whereby Dean enjoyed success virtually on both side of the ball for coach Brad Boyette’s squad, he’s confident he will fulfill his long-waited dream of putting his football skills on display at the collegiate level. (Photos submitted by N. Dean)

“I love football because it’s a sport that has always come naturally to me,” Dean told Sports Journalist Andre Johnson during a recent interview. “I love the contact of the sport. I really know the sport and I have passion for it.”

Dean’s parents, Byron and Neketta Dean, said that while their son has endured his share of challenges during the course of his high school career, they are mostly impressed by how he has gone about assuming the businesslike approach for a player who’s auditioning for a full ride athletic scholarship.

Byron and Neketta’s son, Nakobe Dean, is a 6-foot-2, 205-pound freshman linebacker for Horn Lake.

“I’m happy because he’s happy,” Neketta said of Nikolas Dean. “It’s been challenging, but I’ve always told him to keep God first and that he can do all things through Christ and to remember that he’s a champion and not a contestant. He was born to succeed and he possesses the heart and passion (for football).”

RAVE REVIEWS --- According to Dean (nO. 71), who is ranked as the 105th best player in tradition-rich Mississippi according to Maxpreps.com, he has generated interest from several schools, most notably Mississippi State, Jackson State, Grambling State, University of Memphis, and Ole Miss, among others.

RAVE REVIEWS — According to Dean (nO. 71), who is ranked as the 105th best player in tradition-rich Mississippi according to Maxpreps.com, he has generated interest from several schools, most notably Mississippi State, Jackson State, Grambling State, University of Memphis, and Ole Miss, among others.

All of which is why the Deans believe the possibility exist that they will be watching their son play football on Saturdays around this time next season.

As Nikolas’ mother’s tells it, her son’s body of work as an efficient athletic speaks for itself.

“Nikolas began playing football at the age of five,” Neketta Dean explains. “I was excited about his enthusiasm, energy, and love for the game. Every weekend was and is monopolized with games, events, and activities surrounding football. It was tiresome, especially working full time up to 50 hours-plus a week at times and having to attend the games. Nevertheless, our presence was a highlight for him and encouraged him to play harder.”

Now with National Signing Day a little more than two months away, Nikolas Dean and his family are now waiting with great expectancy to see which school will ultimately extend to him an offer to suit up in a college football uniform next fall.

Let alone set the tone for his young life for the next four years.

“My parents have always encouraged and supported me to strive at being successful in everything I do,” Nikolas Dean said.

Something about which several college scouts have already taken into account.

 

AndreEDITOR’S NOTE: If you have a child or team that is seeking exposure and would like an in-depth sports news story, call Reporter Andre Johnson at 901-690-6587 or Facebook message him for details under “Andre T. Johnson.”

Andre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. A 2000 graduate of the University of Memphis School of Journalism, Johnson covers the NBA Southwest Division from Dallas, Texas. To reach Johnson, send an email to [email protected] Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.

 

Former U of M receiver Keiwone Malone shifting focus on earning pro roster spot

MaloneWhen asked recently to assess her son’s collegiate stint, Sheila Malone deemed it necessary to allude to a super hero.

“He is and always will be Superman,” Malone said of her son, Keiwone Malone. “He has filled many roles on the team and has excelled at all them. He received the punt and made spectacular moves, scoring touchdowns and broke the high school records in Tennessee. He kicked the extra points and covered (opposing team’s) receivers. Using what gifts God has given him, he is my Superman.”

To grasp a full understanding of why Malone has dubbed her son arguably the most decorated super hero of all time, look no further than his slew of accomplishments in recent years, most notably during what was a remarkable tenure at the University of Memphis.

A native of Rosedale, Mississippi, Keiwone Malone emerged as arguably one of the best football players in the history of Memphis Mitchell High, considering he blossomed into one of Shelby-Metro’s most sought-after recruits for the Class of 2010.

Widely regarded as an “athlete” because of his versatility on both sides of the ball, Keiwone Malone was the catalyst of a Mitchell team that had become a fixture in the Class 5A playoffs for the better part of his tenure with the Tigers.

GAME CHANGER --- To his credit, Keiwone Malone is amongst the biggest reasons the Memphis program --- a doormat while enduring years of futility --- has emerged as a national standout in recent years, considering he was one of Tiger quarterback Paxton Lynch’s best options. (Photos courtesy of Memphis Athletics)

GAME CHANGER — To his credit, Keiwone Malone is amongst the biggest reasons the Memphis program — a doormat while enduring years of futility — has emerged as a national standout in recent years, considering he was one of Tiger quarterback Paxton Lynch’s best options. (Photos courtesy of Memphis Athletics)

Add to the fact that Alabama’s Nick Saban was amongst the high-profile college coaches who inquired about Keiwone Malone’s services as a four-star recruit, and it’s no wonder this do-it-all athlete still believes he possesses the skills to — what else? — do it all at the professional ranks.

Less than one year removed from having completed his eligibility at the U of M, the 24-year-old Keiwone Malone doesn’t shy away from the notion that his primary focus now is to earn a spot on a professional football roster.

“If given a chance to play professional football, I will give it my all for the (organization) every day,” Keiwone Malone told MemphiSport during a recent interview. “I’ve always had dreamt at being the best at what I do, and I want to prove to people that size doesn’t matter.”

At 5-foot-11 ½ and 168-pounds, Keiwone Malone had proven time and again that his slim frame didn’t prevent him from enjoying success while playing major college football.

To his credit, he is amongst the biggest reasons the Memphis program — a doormat while enduring years of futility — has emerged as a national standout in recent years, considering he was one of Tiger quarterback Paxton Lynch’s best options.

After transferring from Alabama to Memphis to be close to his ailing grandmother, Keiwone Malone enjoyed a stellar career for the Tigers, given his numbers progressed considerably in each of his four seasons with the program.

MOM KNOWS BEST --- When asked recently to assess her son’s collegiate stint, Sheila Malone deemed it necessary to allude to a super hero.  “He is and always will be Superman,” Malone said of her son, Keiwone Malone. “He has filled many roles on the team and has excelled at all them.

MOM KNOWS BEST — When asked recently to assess her son’s collegiate stint, Sheila Malone deemed it necessary to allude to a super hero.
“He is and always will be Superman,” Malone said of her son, Keiwone Malone. “He has filled many roles on the team and has excelled at all them.

He was especially resilient as a senior for a Memphis team that finished the 2014 campaign with seven consecutive wins (10-3), including a 55-48 double overtime win over Brigham Young in the Miami Beach Bowl.

Keiwone Malone led the Tigers in yards receiving with 45 catches for 555 yards and four touchdowns, while averaging better than 12 yards per receptions — surpassing his 44 receptions for 476 yards and three scores he registered as a sophomore.

All of which is why Lynch, a Heisman candidate who’s projected as a Top 10 pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, was extremely high on Keiwone Malone during his time with the Tigers.

All of which is why this former Tiger standout, who had proven to master major college football, believes he stills possesses the skills and mechanics to earn a paycheck at the professional ranks.

“I’m sure every mom feels their son deserves a chance, but I feel (football) is his ministry,” Shelia Malone said. “He is not complete if he is not playing football. I am his coach at home, so I am constantly giving him pep talks and keep us both prayed up. I am also constantly trying to put him in positions that can get him that chance he deserves.”

Without question, many — including Lynch — who have followed Keiwone Malone’s rise from Mitchell to appearing on a major college football stage believe he’s armed with the finesse to perform for a pro team.

The biggest question at this point is will his golden opportunity come to fruition.

Just as he played his way to earning to scholarship to play at tradition-rich Alabama, Keiwone Malone isn’t ruling out hope.

“I’m dedicated,” he said. “I work hard and I’m not one to give up or half-ass. I’m open-minded to leaning new techniques and ways of winning. I have a great sense of humor. I’m a people person. I’ve never had a coach or player since pee-wee football dislike me or my play or actions on the field. I interact well with others, and I’m a very respectful man that knows how to motivate a team to win.”

Key attributes “Superman” prays pro scouts and general managers will take into account in the foreseeable future.

 

AndreEDITOR’S NOTE: If you have a child or team that is seeking exposure and would like an in-depth sports news story, call Reporter Andre Johnson at 901-690-6587 or Facebook message him for details under “Andre T. Johnson.”

Andre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. A 2000 graduate of the University of Memphis School of Journalism, Johnson covers the NBA Southwest Division from Dallas, Texas. To reach Johnson, send an email to [email protected] Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.

 

Rosa Fort linebacker Ronald Ladd, Jr. making noise in emerging as a 4-Star recruit

Ron1TUNICA, Mississippi — Ronald Ladd, Jr. is only a junior for Rosa Fort High’s football team.

In looking at his athletic resume, one could easily mistake him for a senior.

For starters, Ladd has made appearances at virtually every major football 7-on-7 camp throughout the Mid-South and Southeast regions since embarking upon the high school ranks.

Add to the fact that this speedy, 6-foot, 200-pound outside linebacker has been as good as advertised this season for a Rosa Fort team that carries a 6-0 record into Friday night’s Mississippi Region 2-4A game at Lafayette for first place supremacy, and it’s no wonder college scouts and recruiters have made it a point to keep a close watch on a player that has been upgraded to a 4-Star recruit by various recruiting analysts.

During a recent interview with Sports Journalist Andre Johnson, Ladd’s father, Ronald Ladd, Sr. said that Memphis, Purdue, Notre Dame, Ole Miss, Alabama, Cincinnati, Florida State, Florida, Indiana, Navy, Mississippi State, Southeast Louisiana, UCLA, Auburn, and Kentucky are among the schools that have expressed interest in Ladd, Jr.

Given his remarkable display in this, his pivotal junior campaign, now we know why.

Through the Lions’ six outings, Ladd has garnered a team-leading six tackles, including 32 solo tackles.

FAMILIAR FACE --- Ladd has made appearances at virtually every major football 7-on-7 camp throughout the Mid-South and Southeast regions since embarking upon the high school ranks.

FAMILIAR FACE — Ladd has made appearances at virtually every major football 7-on-7 camp throughout the Mid-South and Southeast regions since embarking upon the high school ranks.

To his credit, he has been nothing less than impressive for potent Rosa Fort defense that has limited the opposition to an average of just seven points per game.

So how to explain Ladd, Jr’s continuous rise as arguably one of the Mid-South’s finest high school linebackers?

As his father tells it, his son has always envisioned becoming a force on the competitive football circuit since his recreational playing days roughly a decade ago.

STOCK RISING --- During a recent interview with Sports Journalist Andre Johnson, Ladd’s father, Ronald Ladd, Sr. said that Memphis, Purdue, Notre Dame, Ole Miss, Alabama, Cincinnati, Florida State, Florida, Indiana, Navy, Mississippi State, Southeast Louisiana, UCLA, Auburn, and Kentucky are among the schools that have expressed interest in Ladd, Jr.

STOCK RISING — During a recent interview with Sports Journalist Andre Johnson, Ladd’s father, Ronald Ladd, Sr. said that Memphis, Purdue, Notre Dame, Ole Miss, Alabama, Cincinnati, Florida State, Florida, Indiana, Navy, Mississippi State, Southeast Louisiana, UCLA, Auburn, and Kentucky are among the schools that have expressed interest in Ladd, Jr.

“(Ronald) Jr. started playing football when he was about five or six years old,” Ronald Ladd, Sr. explained. “He also played basketball, but he stuck with football. I was overwhelmed that he was as good as he is. I knew he had great athleticism, because I was great in sports. Going to games watching him play when he was playing peewee football, I would give him pointers on how to play. I never got tired of trying to get him to the next level. I always wanted him to be active and open-minded. I was excited to know that he could play as good as he has.”

Ronald Ladd, Jr., on the other hand, is swift to acknowledge that a majority of his success as one of the area’s top underclassmen has come to fruition, in large part because of the tireless support of his father and mother, Jill.

Because of them, he said, he had been afforded the golden opportunity to connect with that about which he’s passionate.

What’s even more impressive, particularly for a kid who appears headed — for a lack of better words — tackling a full-ride scholarship is that college scouts and recruiters are watching him intensely, a trend that is almost certain to continue into next season.

WE ARE FAMILY --- Ronald Ladd, Jr., on the other hand, is swift to acknowledge that a majority of his success as one of the area’s top underclassmen has come to fruition, in large part because of the tireless support of his father and mother, Jill.

WE ARE FAMILY — Ronald Ladd, Jr., on the other hand, is swift to acknowledge that a majority of his success as one of the area’s top underclassmen has come to fruition, in large part because of the tireless support of his father and mother, Jill.

“My family has been supportive a lot throughout my football life,” Ladd, Jr. said. “Coming to games, pushing me to work hard, telling me to stay focused and humble.”

Not to mention cling to relentless faith as he continues to add to an already solid resume for National Signing Day 2017.

“If you put God first, anything may happen,” Ladd, Jr. said.

Given his remarkable display in this, his pivotal junior campaign, now we know why.

 

AndreEDITOR’S NOTE: If you have a child or team that is seeking exposure and would like an in-depth sports news story, call Reporter Andre Johnson at 901-690-6587 or Facebook message him for details under “Andre T. Johnson.”

Andre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. A 2000 graduate of the University of Memphis School of Journalism, Johnson covers the NBA Southwest Division from Dallas, Texas. To reach Johnson, send an email to [email protected] Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.

 

 

Rosa Fort RB Kevin Perkins progressing mightily, generating interest from colleges

There’s no other way to put it.

Sonia Robinson was downright worried.

Worried whether her son would become acclimated to what was at the time his new sport.

KP1Worried whether he would become a fixture while competing against the finest prep footballers in Mississippi.

Worried whether he would manage to perform free of any devastating injuries.

Worried whether he would handle the immense and sometimes brutal challenges that emerge through athletics.

Fortunately for Kevin Perkins, Jr., a senior standout at Rosa Fort High, he has adjusted superbly as a member of the fraternity that is major high school football.

A multiple-position athlete for the Lions, Perkins is the catalyst for a Rosa Fort team that has already atoned for last year’s disastrous 4-8 finish.

That’s because the Lions, who are idle this week, have won each of their five regular season outings, having done so in rather impressive fashion. What’s even more impressive for a Rosa Fort team that boasts postseason aspirations is that three of its wins have come on the road, including last week’s 7-3 gutsy triumph at Clarksdale.

MAKING MOM PROUD --- Fortunately for Sonia Robinson's son, Kevin Perkins, Jr., a senior standout at Rosa Fort High, he had adjusted comfortably as a member of the fraternity that is major high school football.  A multi-position athlete for the Lions, Perkins is the catalyst for a Rosa Fort team that has already atoned for last year’s disastrous 4-8 finish. (Photos submitted by S. Robinson)

MAKING MOM PROUD — Fortunately for Sonia Robinson’s son, Kevin Perkins, Jr., a senior standout at Rosa Fort High, he had adjusted comfortably as a member of the fraternity that is major high school football.
A multi-position athlete for the Lions, Perkins is the catalyst for a Rosa Fort team that has already atoned for last year’s disastrous 4-8 finish. (Photos submitted by S. Robinson)

Make no mistake, Perkins, a 6-foot, 215-pounder, has been an integral force for a Lion offensive unit that has averaged near 30 points through five contests.

A team that averages a little more than 200 yards on the ground, Perkins is the team’s leading rusher with 679 yards on 74 carries. To his credit, he is the team’s marquee player, particularly on the offensive side of ball, considering he averages 135.8 yards rushing per game and 9.2 yards per carry. In addition, he has accounted for 11 of the Lions’ 12 rushing touchdown.

Not bad for a kid who, through just five games, has already eclipsed his rushing total of last when he amassed 664 yards on the ground and eight rushing scores.

Most importantly, it’s safe to assume that his mother appears more relaxed nowadays, in large part because her son has been as good as advertised.

“I never looked at him as a football player,” Robinson told Sports Journalist Andre Johnson. “It was his (high school) baseball coach who convinced him to try out for the team during his sophomore year. It actually shocked me to see him become great at a sport that is so physical in such a short period of time.”

That Perkins has adjusted masterfully in recent years, it seems that college scouts and recruiters have taken notice of his rise as a high school standout.

That’s because according to Perkins, Mississippi State, Mississippi Delta Community College, Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, Northwest Mississippi Community College, Alcorn State, Southeast Missouri State, and Copiah Lincoln Community College all have expressed interest in a three-year starter who figures to witness that list increase as the season progresses.

STOCK RISING --- According to Perkins, Mississippi State, Mississippi Delta Community College, Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, Northwest Mississippi Community College, Alcorn State, Southeast Missouri State, and Copiah Lincoln Community College all have expressed interest in a three-year starter who figures to witness that list increase as the season progresses.

STOCK RISING — According to Perkins, Mississippi State, Mississippi Delta Community College, Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, Northwest Mississippi Community College, Alcorn State, Southeast Missouri State, and Copiah Lincoln Community College all have expressed interest in a three-year starter who figures to witness that list increase as the season progresses.

“I want college coaches to know that I am eager to play,” said Perkins, when asked what he wants college coaches to know about him as he continues to audition for a scholarship. “I will go after every play 100 percent each time.”

As for his keen ability to adjust on both sides of the ball, Perkins said, “I am a versatile skills player, and if the ball is in my hands, you can count on me. I work out three times out of a week if I am not practicing. My biggest strengths are running people over, using my speed to get past the opponent, and blocking. My weakness is getting hit below the knees.”

Rosa Fort coach Edwin Norwood on Thursday said he is thoroughly pleased with how Perkins has gone about upgrading his mechanics over the years.

“Over the past three seasons, Kevin has developed as the prototypical student athlete,” Norwood said. “He embodies everything a coach could ask for in a student athlete. Not only does he take care of business on the field, but in the classroom as well. Kevin finished all of major credits for graduation his junior season and has already qualified academically for college. He’s a hard-worker, respectful, and a natural leader. His success on the field is a direct reflection of that. He is the first one on the field and in the weight room and the last to leave.”

So much for mom’s constant worrying.

There’s no other way to put it.

EDITOR’S NOTE: If you have a child or team that is seeking exposure and would like an in-depth sports news story, call Reporter Andre Johnson at 901-690-6587 or Facebook message him for details under “Andre T. Johnson.”

AndreAndre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. A 2000 graduate of the University of Memphis School of Journalism, Johnson covers the NBA Southwest Division from Dallas, Texas. To reach Johnson, send an email to [email protected] Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.

Is Cal-area footballer Dalvin Jamal-Milton being overlooked by Mid-South, Pac 12 schools?

Lorenzo Jackson remembers that 10-foot pole, remembers it like yesterday.

At the tender age of three, Jackson’s grandson, Dalvin Jamal-Milton — a rather active, energetic kid — was seen somehow climbing atop that rather long, medal pole during what ultimately turned into a holiday worth remembering for his beloved paw paw.

CALIFORNIA DREAMIN' --- A flourishing, crafty football player Jamal-Milton has become, one, who, with another masterful display in this, his final season at Jesuit High School in Carmichael, California --- in the outskirts of Sacramento --- could very well find himself playing on Saturdays around this time next year.  A stocky, speedy, 5-foot-8 running back who has evolved as an integral force for the Marauders’ potent rushing attack in recent years, Jamal-Milton has been nothing short of impressive, although he admittedly brings into the 2015 season higher expectations. (Photos submitted by A. Jamal)

CALIFORNIA DREAMIN’ — A flourishing, crafty football player Jamal-Milton has become, one, who, with another masterful display in this, his final season at Jesuit High School in Carmichael, California — in the outskirts of Sacramento — could very well find himself playing on Saturdays around this time next year.
A stocky, speedy, 5-foot-8 running back who has evolved as an integral force for the Marauders’ potent rushing attack in recent years, Jamal-Milton has been nothing short of impressive, although he admittedly brings into the 2015 season higher expectations. (Photos submitted by A. Jamal)

“When he was three years old, Dalvin climbed up a 10-foot pole, using pure arm and stomach strength just to reach an Easter egg,” Jackson told sports journalist Andre Johnson. I knew from that point on he would be an elite football player.”

A flourishing, crafty football player Jamal-Milton has become, one, who, with another masterful display in this, his final season at Jesuit High School in Carmichael, California — in the outskirts of Sacramento — could very well find himself playing on Saturdays around this time next year.

A stocky, speedy, 5-foot-8 running back who has evolved as an integral force for the Marauders’ potent rushing attack in recent years, Jamal-Milton has been nothing short of impressive, although he admittedly brings into the 2015 season higher expectations.

Never mind the assortment of accolades he’s garnered in recent years, honors such as: the Shrine Bowl Most Valuable Player in  2011 while playing for the Rosemont Jr. Wolverines; Offensive MVP in 2012 while a member of Jesuit High’s freshman team; MVP 2012 of Jesuit’s freshman rugby squad in 2012; and Offensive MVP of Jesuit’s junior varsity team in 2013.

A TRUE TALENT --- Jamal-Milton was named the Shrine Bowl Most Valuable Player in  2011 while playing for the Rosemont Jr. Wolverines; Offensive MVP in 2012 while a member of Jesuit High’s freshman team; MVP 2012 of Jesuit’s freshman rugby squad in 2012; and Offensive MVP of Jesuit’s junior varsity team in 2013.

A TRUE TALENT — Jamal-Milton was named the Shrine Bowl Most Valuable Player in 2011 while playing for the Rosemont Jr. Wolverines; Offensive MVP in 2012 while a member of Jesuit High’s freshman team; MVP 2012 of Jesuit’s freshman rugby squad in 2012; and Offensive MVP of Jesuit’s junior varsity team in 2013.

To his credit, this thriving multisport athlete had shown flashes of resiliency during what was an efficient junior campaign.

In being installed in his first full season on the varsity squad, Jamal-Milton essentially showed no signs of rust, having ended the season with 424 rushing yards and five rushing scorers. To his credit, he managed to help propel the Marauders on effective drives, considering he averaged 5.7 yards per carry.

He was just as remarkable as a member of the school’s rugby team, given he managed to start in 10 outings.

MR. ALL-AROUND --- He was just as remarkable as a member of the school’s rugby team, given he managed to start in 10 outings.

MR. ALL-AROUND — Jamal-Milton was just as remarkable as a member of the school’s rugby team, given he managed to start in 10 outings last year.

Still, looking ahead, many who have followed Jamal-Milton’s rise and development as a football standout — he runs an average of 4.49 seconds in the 40-yard dash and bench presses approximately 225 pounds — believe he possesses the tools and skills to play football at the collegiate level, although he has yet to field any official scholarships offers.

But what does Jamal-Milton thinks about all this?

“I’ve always imagined college football as being a utopia for players who truly love the game of football,” Jamal-Milton said. “I have yet to be on a team where I could walk on the field, knowing that all of my teammates share the same passion for football as I do. This dream of mine could not get any better.”

CHECK OUT JAMAL-MILTON IN ACTION: http://www.maxpreps.com/athlete/dalvin-jamal-milton/Hlph8hysEeS00gAmVebEWg/videos.htm?videoid=46d0b324-edd6-40fe-80ae-b627453afd69

What so astounding about his athletic progress over the years, Jamal-Milton said, is that he had grown accustomed to silencing naysayers and critics — or those who sensed that as an undersized athlete, he didn’t have what it takes to compete at a high level.

Uh oh.

Somebody told them wrong.

HE SAID IT --- “I’ve always imagined college football as being a utopia for players who truly love the game of football,” Jamal-Milton said. “I have yet to be on a team where I could walk on the field, knowing that all of my teammates share the same passion for football as I do. This dream of mine could not get any better.”

HE SAID IT — “I’ve always imagined college football as being a utopia for players who truly love the game of football,” Jamal-Milton said. “I have yet to be on a team where I could walk on the field, knowing that all of my teammates share the same passion for football as I do. This dream of mine could not get any better.”

“Since the day I first set foot on the field with my helmet and shoulder pads in hand, I’ve always been looked at as a lesser child,” Jamal-Milton explained. “As a result of being looked at this way, I was moved to play on the (offensive) line. I played line until my sixth grade year. I remember my uncle, Rashad Jamal, walking into my room and asking me if I’m ready to work. I replied saying, ‘Yes, but for what?’ He replied to me, saying, ‘For your opportunity.’

“From that day on, I worked every day to cut weight in order to be eligible as a running back,” Jamal-Milton continued. “When the day came for weigh-ins, I made weight and ran the ball for the first time like I never thought I could. Every day I wake up, I remember the work and pain I had to go through that led to the life I live today. I often realize that with hard work, blood, sweat, and tears, great things can be accomplished without a doubt.”

A trend that, to his credit, has taken place time and again since he his grandfather, his self-proclaimed “No. 1 fan,” caught his climbing that 10-foot pole at the tender age of three.

For Jamal-Milton, the biggest question now is at what point college scouts will acknowledge his assertiveness and immense skills.

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: If you have a child or team that is seeking exposure and would like an in-depth sports news story, call Reporter Andre Johnson at 901-690-6587 or Facebook message him for details under “Andre T. Johnson.”

AndreAndre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. A 2000 graduate of the University of Memphis School of Journalism, Johnson covers the NBA Southwest Division from Dallas, Texas. To reach Johnson, send an email to [email protected] Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.

 

California prep footballer Elijah Orr getting looks from Mid-South, West Coast colleges

For Elijah Orr, it wasn’t merely a moment of failure.

Rather, it was a moment that, to his credit, inspired him to overcome the toughest of life’s hurdles.

LISTEN UP --- A player who has gone to great lengths to build a solid resume since being cut from his youth football team more than a decade ago, Elijah Orr has a direct message for schools who are currently eyeing him. “I'm a team first oriented player and I play to win,” Elijah Orr said. “I can be relied upon and feel that I can be an impact player at multiple positions. I give 110 percent every day.

LISTEN UP — A player who has gone to great lengths to build a solid resume since being cut from his youth football team more than a decade ago, Elijah Orr has a direct message for schools who are currently eyeing him.
“I’m a team first oriented player and I play to win,” Elijah Orr said. “I can be relied upon and feel that I can be an impact player at multiple positions. I give 110 percent every day.

At just six years age, Orr’s mother, Tia Orr, allowed him to try out for a Sacramento-area recreational football team.

However, an unfortunate development transpired days before the youngster was looking to suit up for his first competitive outing.

On the final day of tryouts, Elijah was cut by the coaches, something about which gave way to a sense of disappointment for his mother, who recalls like yesterday how it all unfolded.

He was devastated and, of course, I was too,” Tia Orr told Sports Journalist Andre Johnson during a recent interview. “Elijah realized through that experience however that he was going to have to work really hard to get recognition. At only 6-7 years old he would go outside and practice for hours on his own with out even being asked. I remember watching him over the years going out with his dad learning the mechanics of football and boy did it all his hard work pay off. He is now one of the best defensive players in the game.”

PROVEN LEADER --- Orr's breakthrough season undoubtedly occurred last year when the 6-foot, 180-pound defensive specialist was as good as advertised for a Grant’s national standout squad that took a 14-0 record into last year state championship game before falling big to Folsom.

PROVEN LEADER — Orr’s breakthrough season undoubtedly occurred last year when the 6-foot, 180-pound defensive specialist was as good as advertised for a Grant’s national standout squad that took a 14-0 record into last year state championship game before falling big to Folsom.

As Tia Orr explains, her son had spent countless hours working individually with his father, learning a variety of mechanics from blocking and tackling.

The rest, as they say, is history.

MORE ON ELIJAH ORR: http://www.sacbee.com/sports/high-school/article2925762.html

Not only did Elijah Orr become a marquee player the following year for the very team from which he was cut, but today, the 17-year-old is making his presence felt at the high school ranks.

An All-Section (district) strong safety for Grant High in Sacramento, California, Elijah Orr has been nothing short of impressive, a far cry from a kid who, a little more than a decade ago, was seen with his head buried in the palm of his hands — all because at the age of six, he was force to learn the hard way of just how commendable it is to clear hurdles and conquer arguably the toughest of obstacles.

Orr13To his credit, Elijah Orr had masterfully defied the odds, ultimately blossoming into one of California’s finest prep players for the Class of 2016.

His breakthrough season undoubtedly occurred last year when the 6-foot, 180-pound defensive specialist was as good as advertised for a Grant’s national standout squad that took a 14-0 record into last year state semifinal game falling big to Folsom.

OrrtackleIn helping the Pacers to an undefeated regular season, a Delta League crown, and an impressive postseason run, Elijah Orr started every game and was among the team’s best defenders, registering near 10 tackles per game.

Add to the fact that Elijah Orr runs an average of 4.55 seconds in the 40-yard dash, bench presses somewhere around 250 pounds, and squats at 425, and it’s no wonder a number of colleges have taken into account that this kid undoubtedly possesses the skills and maturity to play at the next level.

MORE ON ELIJAH ORR: http://www.sacbee.com/sports/high-school/joe-davidson/article32275617.html

Elijah Orr, who has qualified academically, said he has garnered “countless letters” from a number of colleges, most notably from the University of Wyoming, the University of Nevada, the University Cal-Poly, Colorado State, and a host of Mid-South-area schools.

While he has yet to receive any official offers, many associated with Grant’s tradition-rich program believe Elijah Orr’s recruiting process will become more favorable in the coming weeks.

Among the reasons is that Elijah Orr was selected play in the annual Blue Grey All-American Game at season’s end. Also, he was chosen to play in the National All-American Game in Dallas’ AT&T Stadium in late December, an event that will feature a number of the elite players for the Class of 2016.

STOCK RISING --- Elijah Orr, who has qualified academically, said he has garnered “countless letters” from a number of colleges, most notably from the University of Wyoming, the University of Nevada, the University Cal-Poly, Colorado State, and a host of Mid-South-area schools. While he has yet to receive any official offers, many associated with Grant’s tradition-rich program believe Elijah Orr’s recruiting process will become more favorable in the coming weeks.

STOCK RISING — Elijah Orr, who has qualified academically, said he has garnered “countless letters” from a number of colleges, most notably from the University of Wyoming, the University of Nevada, the University Cal-Poly, Colorado State, and a host of Mid-South-area schools.
While he has yet to receive any official offers, many associated with Grant’s tradition-rich program believe Elijah Orr’s recruiting process will become more favorable in the coming weeks.

And, just recently, Elijah Orr was selected to participate in an Elite MVP Camp MVP in Los Angeles.

ELIJAH ORR’S SCOUTING REPORT/FOOTAGE: https://athletesforcollege.com/athletes/show/id/3412

A player who has gone to great lengths to build a solid resume since being cut from his youth football team more than a decade ago, Elijah Orr has a direct message for schools who are currently eyeing him.

“I’m a team first oriented player and I play to win,” Elijah Orr said. “I can be relied upon and feel that I can be an impact player at multiple positions. I give 110 percent every day. I have more heart than anyone on the field. I’m all about winning and perfection. Winning comes before personal satisfactions.

“I will do whatever it takes for my team to win ball games,” Elijah Orr continued. “I am a high energy player and am considered a leader among my peers. I love the excitement of the game and love contact.”

So much for being cut at the tender age of six.

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: If you have a child or team that is seeking exposure and would like an in-depth sports news story, call Reporter Andre Johnson at 901-690-6587 or Facebook message him for details under “Andre T. Johnson.”

AndreAndre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. A 2000 graduate of the University of Memphis School of Journalism, Johnson covers the NBA Southwest Division from Dallas, Texas. To reach Johnson, send an email to [email protected] Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.

 

 

Despite birth of baby, Okla. prep RB Orrin Walker drawing interests from colleges

CAMBREE'S FINEST --- According to Ardmore (Okla.) High's star running back Orrin Walker, days after the recent birth of his daughter, he was peppered with an assortment of questions --- questions from whether he plans to finish high school to whether he will continue playing football beyond what has been a remarkable prep career for the talented for the 5-foot-7, 150-pound running back. Today, Yale, Harvard, Princeton, Kansas State, Michigan, Penn State, Navy, Southern Arkansas, Northern Arizona, Southwestern Oklahoma State, Oklahoma Baptist, Tulsa, North Texas, and the University of Texas all have expressed interest in him. (Photos courtesy of Ardmore Athletics)

CAMBREE’S FINEST — According to Ardmore (Okla.) High’s star running back Orrin Walker, days after the recent birth of his daughter, he was peppered with an assortment of questions — questions from whether he plans to finish high school to whether he will continue playing football beyond what has been a remarkable prep career for the talented for the 5-foot-7, 150-pound running back. Today, Yale, Harvard, Princeton, Kansas State, Michigan, Penn State, Navy, Southern Arkansas, Northern Arizona, Southwestern Oklahoma State, Oklahoma Baptist, Tulsa, North Texas, and the University of Texas all have expressed interest in him. (Photos courtesy of Ardmore Athletics)

Orrin Walker Jr. has a forthright message to those who deemed it necessary to doubt him.

“I have come too far now to turn around,” Walker, a junior running back for Ardmore (Okla.) High said during a recent interview.

Armed with what various recruiting analysts say is a wealth of blazing speed and resilience, Walker is alluding to the backlash he took after the birth of his daughter, Cambree, who was born September 16, 2014.

According to Walker, days after the birth of his daughter, he was peppered with an assortment of questions — questions from whether he plans to finish high school to whether he will continue playing football beyond what has been a remarkable prep career for the talented 5-foot-7, 150-pound running back.

“Alot of people thought that I would start slacking and some even thought I would quit (football),” Walker said. “But I have been able to maintain going to school, working two jobs, playing football, and taking care of my daughter.”

HUGE INSPIRATION --- Like Orrin’s mother, Ardmore head coach Doug Wendel also contends that his star running back hasn’t missed a beat since the birth of Cambree. If nothing Cambree has become his grandest cheerleader.

HUGE INSPIRATION — Like Orrin’s mother, Ardmore head coach Doug Wendel also contends that his star running back hasn’t missed a beat since the birth of Cambree. If nothing Cambree has become his grandest cheerleader.

And in the wake of what undoubtedly has been a brutally hectic year for this football standout, his solid play on Friday nights has given way to a slew of major colleges inquiring about his services once his high school stint concludes.

According to Walker, Yale, Harvard, Princeton, Kansas State, Michigan, Penn State, Navy, Southern Arkansas, Northern Arizona, Southwestern Oklahoma State, Oklahoma Baptist, Tulsa, North Texas, and the University of Texas all have expressed interest in him.

To get a thorough understanding of why the recruiting process for Walker — known to many as “OJ” — has been nothing short of impressive, look no further than the remarkable numbers he registered this past season.

In leading Ardmore to a 12-2 finish that included a Oklahoma District 1-5A championship and lengthy postseason run, Walker amassed 1,462 yards rushing on just 102 carries and scored a team-best rushing 17 touchdowns. In addition, he had eight receptions for 147 yards and two scores and was just as efficient on special teams, where he generated 377 yards (47.1 average yards per kickoff) on just eight returns and three scores.

So much for the negative backlash he witnessed upon the birth of his child.

“I know OJ has already spoken on this subject, but when I first learned that my son was going to be a father, I was crushed,” said Orrin’s mother, Anquanett Walker. “Different things began to run through my mind, but I never thought at any time that it would stop him from reaching the goals he had set as a child. Today our precious Cambree is (six) months old and I believe that she has added inspiration and motivation to his life.”

PURE TALENT --- In leading Ardmore to a 12-2 finish that included a District 1-5A championship and lengthy postseason run, Walker amassed 1,462 yards rushing on just 102 carries and scored a team-best rushing 17 touchdowns.

PURE TALENT — In leading Ardmore to a 12-2 finish that included a District 1-5A championship and lengthy postseason run, Walker amassed 1,462 yards rushing on just 102 carries and scored a team-best rushing 17 touchdowns.

Like Orrin’s mother, Ardmore head coach Doug Wendel also contends that his star running back hasn’t missed a beat since the birth of Cambree. If nothing Cambree has become his grandest cheerleader.

And vice versa.

“OJ has a tremendous upside,” Wendel said. “He continues to improve in his overall body strength. His speed is exceptional. His drive is second to none.”

Conversely, Wendel said there are a few mechanics Orrin must fine tune as he look prepares for what figures to be a record-setting senior season. Scouts and recruiters will get another glimpse of his Orrin when he attends a number of camps and combines this summer.

“One area that he has improved the most is in his leadership ability,” Wendel said. “He has the skills to make the people around him better. OJ will excel his senior season and at the next level.”

Something about which Cambree, his biggest — but smallest — fan will savor.

“Cambree have been big part of my motivation to continue to go forward,” Orrin said.

A forthright message those who deemed it necessary to doubt this true talent ought to take into account as well.

DrePicAndre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. Based in Dallas, Texas, Johnson covers the NBA Southwest Division. To reach Johnson, send an email to [email protected] Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.

Barton (Ark.) High OL Quentin Watson isn’t ruling out a college football future

 

COLLEGE MATERIAL --- While starting mostly on offense the past two seasons for Barton High in Arkansas, Quentin Watson assumed the left guard position and also enjoyed quality minutes for the Bears at defensive tackle. Although his undersized frame was among the reasons he went unsigned on National Signing Day earlier this month, Bears coach Van Paschal believes the possibility exists that Watson can extend his football career if placed in the right system. (Photos submitted by D. Johnson)

COLLEGE MATERIAL — While starting mostly on offense the past two seasons for Barton High in Arkansas, Quentin Watson assumed the left guard position and also enjoyed quality minutes for the Bears at defensive tackle. Although his undersized frame was among the reasons he went unsigned on National Signing Day earlier this month, Bears coach Van Paschal believes the possibility exists that Watson can extend his football career if placed in the right system. (Photos submitted by D. Johnson)

Barton High football coach Van Paschal on Wednesday went on and on about why he believes Quentin Watson is worthy of a shot at playing football at the collegiate level.

“Quentin is a hard worker,” Paschal told MemphiSport during a telephone interview from Lexa, Arkansas. “He’s an undersized lineman. But that’s not a bad thing. But like I told Quentin, there are places to play if he keeps his nose clean.”

For Watson, who started his final two seasons for Barton, he has gained a keen reputation off the field for being one who is well-disciplined, let alone a kid who is extremely scrupulous of those with whom he affiliates.

Add to the fact that this speedy, 200-pound offensive lineman was an integral part of a Bears squad that advanced to the opening round of the Arkansas Class 3A playoffs this year, and it’s no wonder this 17-year-old, vibrant, scholar athlete hasn’t ruled out continuing his football career when he sets foot on a college campus this fall.

HOLDING IT DOWN --- A 200-pound offensive lineman, Watson (No. 56) was an integral part of a Bears squad that advanced to the opening round of the Arkansas Class 3A playoffs this year.

HOLDING IT DOWN — A 200-pound offensive lineman, Watson (No. 56) was an integral part of a Bears squad that advanced to the opening round of the Arkansas Class 3A playoffs this year.

In fact, as Watson tells it, he’s admittedly clinging to lofty hopes of fulfilling such a dream, one he’s had ever since he began playing competitively at the age of seven.

“I am a hard-working athletic player,” said Watson, when asked what is it he’d like for college coaches to know about him. “I don’t mind doing whatever it takes to help the team move forward. I have played numerous positions.”

While starting mostly on offense the past two seasons, Watson assumed the left guard position and also enjoyed quality minutes for the Bears at defensive tackle. Although his undersized frame was among the reasons he went unsigned on National Signing Day earlier this month, Paschal believes the possibility exists that Watson can extend his football career if placed in the right system.

“It’ll be a great thing to see someone give him a shot,” Paschal said of Watson, whom he coached for the past four seasons. “There are different levels of (college) ball, Division I, Division II, and Division III. I’ve learned a lesson that you should never say never. Where Quentin’s going to play, I don’t know. But he’s pretty coachable. Quentin is one of those kids…he sees (trouble) on the street, he’s going to dodge it.”

In addition, it is because of his well-disciplined, bend-but-don’t-break persona on and off the field that many who watched Watson’s maturation process over the years believes college coaches would be doing themselves a disservice if they pass up luring a kid of this caliber to their program.

Credit Watson’s mother, Demetric Johnson, for steadfastly pushing her son virtually daily to maximize his fullest potential.

THE REAL MVP --- Credit Watson’s mother, Demetric Johnson, for steadfastly pushing her son virtually daily to maximize his fullest potential.  “I realized (when he was 10 years old) he was passionate and dedicated to football,” Johnson explained. “He played the game anytime he could. He took it seriously, getting up early and going to practice, never missing practice, taking leadership (skills), and watching film after a game to see how he could get better. I watched him grow and develop over the years as a player. He is passionate about football and once something becomes a passion, you tend to excel. So, yes I believe he can go far.”

THE REAL MVP — Credit Watson’s mother, Demetric Johnson, for steadfastly pushing her son virtually daily to maximize his fullest potential.
“I realized (when he was 10 years old) he was passionate and dedicated to football,” Johnson explained. “He played the game anytime he could. He took it seriously, getting up early and going to practice, never missing practice, taking leadership (skills), and watching film after a game to see how he could get better. I watched him grow and develop over the years as a player. He is passionate about football and once something becomes a passion, you tend to excel. So, yes I believe he can go far.”

“I realized (when he was 10 years old) he was passionate and dedicated to football,” Johnson explained. “He played the game anytime he could. He took it seriously, getting up early and going to practice, never missing practice, taking leadership (skills), and watching film after a game to see how he could get better. I watched him grow and develop over the years as a player. He is passionate about football and once something becomes a passion, you tend to excel. So, yes I believe he can go far.”

Still, the only reasonable strategy moving forward, Johnson said, is to devise ways to ensure her son lands at a college where he will have the golden opportunity of putting his skills on display.

After all, like his high school coach, she insists all isn’t lost for a kid whom many believed was overlooked by scouts and college coaches long before National Signing Day earlier this month.

“The sky is the limit for my son because he has a passion for the game,” Johnson said. “He is a dedicated player who takes his job on the field seriously but not too much that he loses sight to have fun playing the game as well. I have no doubt if this is what he wants, he can and he will conquer it.”

Just as he’s done for the past four years on and off the field — a trend Watson hopes some college coach recognizes soon.

DreColumnAndre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. Based in Dallas, Texas, Johnson also covers the NBA Southwest Division. To reach Johnson, send email to [email protected] Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.