Recruiting Q&A: A look at the Southwest with Jason Howell
With National Signing Day less than a month away, SI exchanged emails with the seven Rivals.com regional recruiting analysts to get their perspectives on the major storylines between now and February. Southwest analyst Jason Howell breaks down his loaded and popular regional recruiting landscape:
SI: Name your top three "sleepers," either committed or uncommitted, and explain why you think they will impact the next level?
Jason Howell: It is hard to call this guy a sleeper since he does have an impressive offer list and is committed to Nebraska, but running back Adam Taylor, Katy (Texas) is my first sleeper. In my opinion, he has been overlooked and I'll even say he is underrated. He was a sophomore standout who missed his junior season with a knee injury, and all he did as a senior was rush for more than 2,000 yards while splitting time with the other talented running backs. There were questions about his speed, but he has shown he is healthy and ran with the speed, burst, vision, and acceleration that will thrive in Lincoln and in the Big 10.
Demarcus Ayers, Lancaster (Texas) is not the biggest or the fastest athlete in the region, but he is elusive. This year as a quarterback, he led his high school squad to the state championship game. Ayers is being recruited by Texas Tech, Houston and Arkansas as a receiver/cornerback. He is dangerous with the ball in his hands, and in space can make the best defenders look foolish.
The last of my sleepers is wide receiver Quincy Adeboyejo, Cedar Hill (Texas). When he committed to Texas A&M in the spring, Adeboyejo was just starting to draw interest. He did not post big stats as a junior, which caused many schools to hold off. He surpassed his junior numbers in the first game of the season and never looked back. He has since de-committed from Texas A&M and is looking at Cal, Texas Tech and TCU. He reminds many of Cedar Hill product, Kansas standout and NFL receiver Dezmon Briscoe. There are a lot of similarities, including that both saw their stock begin to soar before breakout senior seasons.
SI: Which recent coaching departure (or new hire) will have the most influence on your region's recruiting landscape?
JH: It had a strange coaching transition, but Texas Tech's shakeup will profoundly affect the region. Tommy Tuberville's departure caught everyone off-guard and it certainly took its toll on the Red Raiders' 2013 recruiting class. However, Texas Tech wasted little time finding his replacement, turning to Texas A&M offensive coordinator and former Texas Tech quarterback Kliff Kingsbury. He has also brought back a few Texas Tech players to serve as assistants and has picked off assistant coaches and hot recruiters from staffs at Houston and TCU.
Coaching changes at Arkansas, Arkansas State, and Louisiana Tech also shook things in the region, but not to the extent of Texas Tech.
SI: Name three teams whose stock is rising and three others whose is falling
JH: It starts with Texas A&M and it is not even close. The Aggies are the hottest team in the region and have expanded their footprint. Recruits are looking at Texas A&M in a way they haven't in a decade. Oklahoma State is another. The Cowboys have had a few big departures from their coaching staff, but they held on to Mike Gundy and the facilities are the best around. The Cowboys are quietly putting together a strong class in Stillwater.
The last riser is Baylor. Art Briles and the Baylor Bears continue to raise their profile, and in 2012 they showed Baylor was more than just the RGIII show. Between the offense and the way the Bears closed the season, recruits from 2013 and beyond are giving Baylor a long look.
The first noticeable sinker is Texas. Mack Brown and the Longhorns are used to setting the tone in the region, or at least Texas, and that is not the case now. Things are not terrible in Austin and the Longhorns are going to sign a solid class, but the tide has turned and they are no longer dictating things on the recruiting front. Elsewhere in The Horned Frogs had a tough offseason and while they went to a bowl, it was not the Big 12 debut Coach Gary Patterson had in mind. Patterson has assembled a good group, but the Frogs seem a bit further down the list than they have been in the past as 2013.The last of the three is Houston. The Cougars are in on some talents, but momentum has been lost over the last year or so. Houston is not your typical recruiting power, but the Cougars have lost whatever they had building.
SI: Which player in your regions will have the best opportunity to contribute immediately?
JH: Fort Worth (Texas) Southwest Rivals100 receiver Robbie Rhodes. The standout receiver heads to Baylor's pass happy offense and he has Coach Art Briles smiling. There are several receivers on the depth chart, but Rhodes has the kind of talent and raw ability to make some big moves in a short period of time and become a real difference-maker from the start.
SI: What player in your region impresses you so much that you'd be willing to guarantee success on the next level?
JH: Shreveport (La.) Green Oaks cornerback Tre'Davious White is not only one of the best players in the country and regarded as the top prospect in Louisiana, but he is also one of the smartest and most grounded recruits in the 2013 class. If he hadn't chosen football, he would be successful in another endeavor. He has a chance to be a difference-maker at LSU. He has shown himself to be a shutdown cornerback and an extraordinary return specialist. Les Miles will be thrilled to have him.