This week’s edition of Hey Judes analyzes some hidden gems in the 2018 recruiting class, as they’ve fallen victim to the three-star curse. Plus, LSU appears to be getting back on track after a brief stumble.
Well, I write this week’s Hey Judes somberly.
That much-anticipated vacation to Boston I’ve been chirping about has been put on the back burner for the time being. But I’m hoping to reschedule it for later this spring, which should be better anyway because it will be a little warmer. Plus, I’ll be able to cross that baseball game at Fenway Park off my bucket list.
The Houston regional for The Opening took place earlier this month, and I recently interviewed Rischad Whitfield, a.k.a. The Footwork King from the Houston area. If you don’t know about him, ask some of the country’s top recruits about him. Aside from being an extremely nice guy, Whitfield is an up-and-coming trainer. He’s worked with former recruits like K’Lavon Chaisson and Toneil Carter. Plus, he has a long list of NFL ballers consistently visiting Houston to work with him: Le’Veon Bell, Deandre Hopkins, Emmanuel Sanders, et al.
At some point, I’m looking forward to visiting Whitfield’s training facility and learning more about the work he does within one of the largest pools of football talent in the country.
Speaking of the Lone Star State, let’s shed some light on a few 3-star prospects who don’t get as much shine as they should.
Texas Three-Star Trio
The first player I want to mention is Kalon Barnes. The 6-foot-1, 175-pound wide receiver from Silsbee, Texas has some big-play ability and is a natural fit for the Big 12 given his knack for making plays deep down the field. He high points the football and has excellent control of his body. He sort of reminds me of Corey Coleman and could thrive if used the same way Baylor employed Coleman.
Another kid worth talking about is John Holcombe from Summer Creek High School in Houston. He has great size at 6-foot-3, 208 lbs, but the first thing that popped off the screen to me was the touch with which he can toss the pigskin. He does a great job of transferring his weight and finishing his throws on his front foot. You love to see quarterbacks drop it in a bucket from 40 yards out, and he can do that. Holcombe isn’t super quick, but he’s mobile enough to keep linebackers and edge rushers honest.
The last prospect I want to point out is Ta’zhawn Henry. He’s not the biggest kid on the block at only 5-foot-7, 165 lbs. But he can do some damage when he totes the rock. His game resembles Darren Sproles and Donnel Pumphrey. Henry is shifty, elusive and extremely quick. He navigates well within traffic, and he can make plays down the field as a receiver, too. Another Houston native, we could soon be talking about him as a playmaker at the next level.
LSU Finding Its Bearings
It wasn’t long ago that we were talking about the possibility of LSU being banned from recruiting at certain high schools in the New Orleans area. The Tigers’ demotion of Jabbar Juluke, who has since taken a job at Texas Tech, lit a fire under a few of the high school head coaches. There was a short window of opportunity for other programs to slide into Louisiana and gain traction with recruits — an extremely short window. Kansas used it to land six commitments from Louisiana natives. However, on Thursday, one of them, 3-star defensive tackle Nelson Jenkins, flipped his commitment to LSU. That move came a few hours after the Tigers landed 3-star JUCO defensive end Travez Moore.
On top of that, a story came out on Wednesday that featured Parkway High School head coach David Feaster calling Alabama unethical with some of its recruiting practices. It all stems from the recruitment of now-former LSU quarterback Brandon Harris, but that’s neither here nor there. All that really matters is Feaster won’t play ball with the Crimson Tide. That’s a big deal because 5-star wide receiver Terrace Marshall suits up for Parkway. So, don’t count on Alabama pulling ahead for him or quarterback Justin Rogers anytime soon.
The Tigers might have stumbled into the 2018 recruiting class, but they’re quickly regaining their balance. Hiring New Orleans native Tommie Robinson to the coaching staff definitely helped. LSU looked to be in limbo when it came to recruiting, but now the flags may be blowing in the right direction sooner than we thought they would.
I can’t tell you how happy I was when Jadeveon Clowney finally broke out for the Houston Texans this past season. It still seems like yesterday he was destroying the SEC. If you miss those days — you know the days of Clowney shooting through A-gaps and leveling tailbacks — you might not have to wait much longer to see that in the college game again.
Clowney’s younger cousin is a 6-foot-6, 200-pound defensive end in the 2020 recruiting class. He’s transferring from St. John’s in Washington D.C. to St. Frances in Baltimore. And two of the schools looking at him right now are Maryland and South Carolina. The best part is his name. Ladies and gentlemen, get ready for Demon Clowney. He’s still very young and has a lot of growing to do. But he’s already physically imposing, and I really hope he reaches the same level his older cousin was at when he was running the show at South Carolina. Supposedly, Demon’s 40-yard-dash time is under five seconds, so it sounds like he’s on the right track.