East Texas 25: No. 14 Cameron Cantrell, WR, Whitehouse
The name Cantrell carries quite a bit of weight in Whitehouse.
Dylan Cantrell starred for the Wildcats only five years ago. He racked up a few 1,000-yard seasons as a receiver before moving on to Texas Tech. The Los Angeles Chargers drafted him in the sixth round in April, further cementing the Cantrell name in East Texas lore.
But he isn't the only Cantrell with a chance to make a name for himself through football.
Cameron Cantrell, Dylan's younger brother, is making the same impact for Whitehouse on Friday nights. He was the Wildcats' leading receiver this past season, with 620 yards and 51 receptions according to MaxPreps.
Cantrell credits his skill to an early start and a constant desire to keep up with his older brothers (Jordan Cantrell played linebacker for Hardin University). When APEC gym and training facility opened in Tyler, Cantrell tagged along with Dylan and Jordan to sessions. He was the youngest person in the gym by at least five years.
"I was out there just because my brothers were out there," Cantrell said. "Seeing them go to college and watching Dylan do what he’s done has been a huge help. Both of them have pushed me to be where I am."
The training sessions haven't stopped for Cantrell (6-1, 180). He still attends APEC and cites speed and adding weight as his main goals this offseason, though speed takes precedence.
"I want to be as fast as I can next season," he said. "I’m not focused on gaining weight, but if I can I’m gonna put a little bit of weight on and be around 190 when the season starts. But as soon as I start losing speed I’ll cut off gaining weight.”
He also wants to have has first 1,000-yard season, something he aspires to because of Dylan. The two maintain a friendly competitiveness, and Dylan isn't shy about letting his younger brother know where he ranks.
“He’s brought that up multiple times to me," Cantrell said. "We’re a very competitive family. I compare myself to him in a lot of ways since we play the same position.”
Although Cantrell has the statistical goals, it's not his main focus. With the graduation of quarterback Jacob Clemens and defensive back and running back Javier Neal, Cantrell is one of the main pieces coming back from last season. A captain last year, he looks to continue his leadership role even if it means a lesser role for him on the field.
"I have goals that I want to achieve but if it means I have to be double-teamed and other people are getting open, that’s fine with me as long as we’re winning,” he said.
Cantrell will attend Texas Tech next fall, but said it's not because of his brother. Although his brother's spot on the team afforded Cantrell opportunities to be around the coaching staff and university, he wanted to make it clear he committed for the team.
"It made me look at Tech, but getting to visit while he was up there all the time (was the reason I committed)," he said. "I love the campus and the facility. I love all the coaches. Me and coach (Emmett) Jones have gotten really close. He made an effort to talk to me as soon as he could.”
Cantrell committed to the Red Raiders early last year and hasn't received any other scholarship offers. He said he is still in contact with a few teams, but they mostly pulled back after he announced his commitment.
He's most excited for his first matchup with Texas, the team he grew up rooting for before Dylan played at Texas Tech. Michael Crabtree's touchdown catch to defeat the Longhorns in 2008 stung for him. He said the rivalry between the two teams, though not nationally recognized, is unlike any he has ever seen.
For now, he is focused on the season ahead at Whitehouse. He knows that he still has a lot to prove but with his brothers guiding him, he'll be fine.
"(I'm) trying to be like them," he said. "They always seem to do everything right."
East Texas 25 Class of 2019
- No. 25 DeKendrick Bender, Marshall, WR, 6-2, 185
- No. 24 Jawan King, Atlanta, RB, 5-10, 213
- No. 23 Eric Gipson, Jefferson, OLB/S, 6-1, 195
- No. 22 T.K. Hamilton, Waskom, ATH, 5-10, 166
- No. 21 Caiden Walker, Newton, OL, 6-5, 285
- No. 20 Tahj Washington, Marshall, WR, 5-11, 165
- No. 19 Robbie Williams, Chapel Hill, WR, 6-3, 195
- No. 18 Breylon Garcia, Lufkin, DE, 6-4, 215
- No. 17 Chance Billington, John Tyler, OL, 6-3, 300
- No. 16 Keivie Rose, Henderson, DE, 6-3, 240
- No. 15 Deshawn McCuin, Jacksonville, DB, 5-11, 180