One Final Look at East Texas’ 2017 Recruiting Class as Signing Day Approaches
In less than a week, dozens of high school football players across East Texas will sign their official national letters of intent, realizing their dreams of playing college football.
By the fall, college rosters at every level -- FBS, FCS, Division II, Division III, NAIA, and junior college -- will be stocked with natives of one of the most fertile recruiting grounds in America.
East Texas has become synonymous with football at both the high school and college level for decades. And on Wednesday, the two come together on National Signing Day, the first time recruits can come to a binding agreement with the school of their choice.
It is both a day of celebration and relief for players and their families.
Sarah Jones, the mother of 2016 Texas signee Brandon Jones, a five-star safety from Nacogdoches, said it best last February.
“This has been an exciting process, but it has been so long and so arduous. It has infiltrated every moment of our lives almost for two years,” she said moments after Brandon signed last year. “I am way past ready for it to be over, I’m ready for life to return to normal. I want him to enjoy his senior year and have a couple months as a kid before life gets crazy and hectic and he has to hit it hard for college.”
And while most of this year's recruits can see the light at the end of tunnel, the last couple of days can be the most hectic in their recruiting process.
For instance, Van senior receiver Isaiah Allred, who committed to Missouri State -- an FCS program -- in December, received his first FBS scholarship offer on Thursday. Texas State made sure to give Allred, who took his official visit to Missouri State last weekend, something to think about until Wednesday.
With a few days remaining in this recruiting cycle, college programs all across the country are frantically trying to complete their signing class, and will make hard pushes at players who may have already committed to other schools.
The 2017 East Texas class has had its fair share of de-commitments.
Henderson receiver Trestan Ebner has committed to three different programs in the last 13 months. He was the first player to commit to SMU's '17 class in December of 2015, then after receiving a multitude of offers, landed with TCU in June.
Then, just before the Christmas holiday, Ebner decided to re-open his recruitment. And a couple of weeks ago, he committed to becoming a member of new coach Matt Rhule's first recruiting class at Baylor.
Ebner wasn't the first area player to flee from TCU.
Nacogdoches four-star cornerback Josh Thompson, who pledged to the Horned Frogs in June, switched to Texas six weeks later.
Texas has been negatively affected as well in recent months. Bullard tight end Major Tennison, who was committed to the Longhorns for more than a year, decided to flip to Alabama and is already enrolled in classes there.
As it stands now, 22 players from East Texas are committed to FBS programs, and six are undecided.
The area's highest-profile recruit still to determine his fate is Tyler Bishop Gorman receiver Judah Bell.
Bell (6-3, 180), who caught 111 passes for 2,353 yards and 19 touchdowns as a senior, has 13 offers to his name, including Houston, Kansas, Memphis, Navy, North Texas, and SMU. He recently spoke to KLTV about the recruiting process.
There are currently 15 FBS programs with commitments from East Texas players. Texas leads the way with three -- Hooks athlete Montrell Estell, John Tyler receiver Damion Miler, and Nacogdoches cornerback Josh Thompson.
Five schools -- Air Force, Louisiana Tech, Louisiana-Monroe, North Texas, and Texas State -- have two area pledges apiece.
Oddly enough, Texas A&M, which has signed 13 East Texas recruits since 2013, does not have a single commitment from the region this year.
But there's still time. Five days to be exact.
2017 East Texas Football Players With Division I FBS Offers
- Tristan Allen, Atlanta, LB, 6-3, 206 — COMMITTED TO LOUISIANA TECH; additional offer from UTEP (2)
- Isaiah Allred, Van, WR, 6-3, 205 — offer from Texas State (1); committed to Missouri State (FCS)
- Judah Bell, Tyler Bishop Gorman, WR, 6-3, 180 — offers from Bowling Green, Coastal Carolina, Houston, Kansas, Memphis, Navy, New Mexico, North Texas, SMU, ULL, ULM, UTSA, Wyoming (13)
- Noah Bush, Athens, LB, 6-1, 216 — COMMITTED TO AIR FORCE; additional offer from Army (2)
- Lagaryonn Carson, Liberty-Eylau, DE, 6-4, 261 — offers from Alabama, Arkansas, Baylor, North Texas, Oklahoma, TCU, Tennessee, Texas, Texas A&M (9)
- Terrell Cooper, Lindale, DE, 6-3, 240 — offers from Arkansas State, Memphis, North Texas, TCU, Texas State (5)
- Trestan Ebner, Henderson, WR, 5-11, 180 — COMMITTED TO BAYLOR; additional offers from Arizona State, Arkansas, Arkansas State, Colorado State, Houston, Kansas, Illinois, Indiana, Mississippi State, Missouri, North Texas, Ole Miss, SMU, Syracuse, UTSA, Texas A&M, TCU, Tulsa (20)
- Montrell Estell, Hooks, WR/DB, 6-2, 180 — COMMITTED TO TEXAS; additional offers from Alabama, Arizona State, Arkansas, Baylor, Kansas, Notre Dame, SMU, Texas A&M, Texas State, Texas Tech, Tulane (12)
- Octavius Evans, Center, WR, 6-2, 186 — COMMITTED TO BOISE STATE; additional offers from Indiana, Louisiana Tech, Mississippi State, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, Texas State, ULL (8)
- Ted Fuller, Harleton, RB, 5-11, 195 — offers from ULM, Wyoming (2)
- Tre Gatlin, Carthage, DE, 6-6, 210 —offer from Wyoming (1); committed to Navarro College (JUCO)
- Quan Hampton, Texas High, WR, 5-8, 165 — COMMITTED TO KANSAS; additional offer from Texas State (2)
- Austin Hawley, Gladewater, DB, 6-1, 200 — COMMITTED TO ULM (1)
- Kollin Hurt, Gilmer, DB, 6-3, 175 — COMMITTED TO LOUISIANA TECH; additional offers from ULM, UTSA (3)
- Jordan Johnson, Hooks, ATH, 6-0, 195 — COMMITTED TO ARMY; additional offer from Air Force (2)
- Kayce Medlock, Arp, ATH, 5-10, 186 — COMMITTED TO SMU; additional offers from Army, Colorado, Houston, Navy, Tulane, ULL, UTSA (8)
- Damion Miller, John Tyler, WR, 6-1, 189 — COMMITTED TO TEXAS; additional offers from Baylor, Houston, Kansas, Missouri, North Texas, Oklahoma State, Ole Miss, SMU, Texas A&M, Texas Tech (11)
- LaMarcus Morton, Gilmer, WR, 6-2, 175 — COMMITTED TO OKLAHOMA STATE; additional offers from Arkansas State, Colorado State, Houston, Indiana, Louisiana Tech, Memphis, New Mexico State, Texas Tech, Tulsa, ULL, ULM, UTSA (13)
- Javonta Mosley, John Tyler, CB, 6-1, 170 — COMMITTED TO UTSA; additional offers from Arkansas State, Houston, Memphis, North Texas, SMU, Southern Miss, Texas State, ULL, ULM (10)
- Cade Pearson, Texas High, QB, 6-3, 193 — COMMITTED TO NORTH TEXAS; additional offer from Wyoming (2)
- Dhailon Phillips, Lufkin, WR, 6-3, 195 — COMMITTED TO TEXAS STATE; additional offers from Air Force, Army (3)
- Dez Robinson, Atlanta, LB, 6-3, 210 — offers from UTEP, Wyoming (2); committed to Sam Houston State (FCS)
- Kordell Rodgers, Lufkin, QB/ATH, 5-10, 165 — COMMITTED TO TEXAS STATE; additional offers from Arkansas State, ULM (3)
- Makyle Sanders, Tyler Lee, S, 6-1, 177 — COMMITTED TO NORTH TEXAS; additional offers from Air Force, Memphis, Navy (4)
- Bryson Smith, John Tyler, QB/ATH, 6-0, 170 — COMMITTED TO HOUSTON; additional offers from Air Force, Arkansas State, Baylor, Bowling Green, Memphis, New Mexico, North Texas, Purdue, SMU, Southern Miss, Texas, Texas State, Tulane, Tulsa, ULL, ULM, UTSA (18)
- Cameron Sir Louis, TE, 6-3, 220 — offer from Air Force (1)
- D’Torian Smith, Tatum, DE/LB, 6-3, 225 — COMMITTED TO AIR FORCE; additional offers from ULM, UTEP (3)
- Major Tennison, Bullard, TE, 6-6, 248 — COMMITTED TO ALABAMA; additional offers from Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, LSU, Michigan, Nebraska, Oklahoma State, Oregon, SMU, Texas, Texas Tech, UCLA (14)
- Josh Thompson, Nacogdoches, CB, 6-0, 182 — COMMITTED TO TEXAS; additional offers from Arizona State, Arkansas State, Baylor, Colorado State, Fresno State, Houston, Indiana, Kansas, Kansas State, Louisiana Tech, Minnesota, Missouri, North Texas, Ohio, Oklahoma State, Ole Miss, Penn State, SMU, TCU, Texas State, Texas Tech, Tulane, UCLA, ULM, Utah, UTSA, Washington State, Wyoming (29)
- Lakendrick VanZandt, Henderson, RB/S, 6-1, 196 — COMMITTED TO TCU; additional offers from Arkansas State, Baylor, Houston, Memphis, Oklahoma State, SMU, Southern Miss, TCU, Tulane, Tulsa (10)
- Traveion Webster, Longview, S, 6-0, 197 — COMMITTED TO ULM (1)