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Thursday, April 17, 2014
Getting to know DaMarkus Lodge

By Damon Sayles

Throughout this recruiting cycle, RecruitingNation will profile a number of ESPN 300 prospects in the 2015 class, including an inside look at the prospect, his recruitment, a scouting report and what college program could benefit when he ultimately makes his decision.

DESOTO, Texas -- With all the multiple camps, combines and special events happening each spring, DaMarkus Lodge chooses not to be a regular on the circuit.

It’s not that Lodge is against them, or that he thinks he’s above them. The ESPN 300 receiver has simply prioritized his life as a student-athlete. The camp circuit happens to be a middle-of-the-pack priority.

"Right now I’m focused on my ACT and just working on getting that straight before anything,” Lodge said. “I still train on my own, so I’m getting my work in. I’m not missing any time working out.”

Most of Lodge’s personal training includes time at Cedar Hill High School and the extra hours spent with QuickTwitch Training, a Dallas-based skills training group. Lodge, however, said competing in the Nike Football Training Camp was a must for two reasons.

“I know that’s the camp where all the real elite players go,” said Lodge, who competed in the April 5 event. “I wanted to come out and showcase my skills and just show I’m one of the better athletes around. I wanted the competition that I’d be seeing at the next level.

Damarkus Lodge
DaMarkus Lodge has the hands, size and speed coaches covet at wide receiver.
“Plus, I wanted to get to The Opening. That was a goal of mine.”

Lodge was not only named the Dallas NFTC wide receivers MVP but also was invited to Oregon for The Opening this summer. The 6-foot-2, 185-pound athlete, the state of Texas’ top-ranked receiver, showed on several occasions why he has 24 offers and why, despite not frequenting multiple camps, college scouts and recruiters consider him one of the top gets in the 2015 class.

Two years ago, Cedar Hill coach Joey McGuire had receivers Quincy Adeboyejo (Ole Miss signee), LaQuvionte Gonzalez (Texas A&M), Brandon Harris (Iowa State) and Travis Wilson (Nevada) in the rotation. There also was this skinny freshman making noise during the spring 7-on-7 season. There were times where he looked every bit as good as his older, college-bound teammates.

And then, McGuire said, there were times when Lodge looked even better. McGuire has said several times that Lodge might be the best receiver he has coached.

“He is a complete wide receiver,” McGuire said. “Great speed, great body control, great hands, great route runner. Best in the nation.”

Now the big question revolves around where Lodge will continue his football career. Lodge lists a host of schools he’s interested in, including Florida, Clemson, Ole Miss, LSU, UCLA, USC, Michigan, Ohio State and Texas A&M. He’s also very adamant about where his recruitment stand.

“There are no tops at all, no favorites,” Lodge said. “For now, I’m still at the same place I was as a sophomore.

“I know what I want, though. I want my receivers coach to be like another father to me. If not anyone else on the coaching staff, I want to have a good relationship with my position coach. I want a guy who’s going to play the best player, no matter what classification. I also want a good atmosphere and an air-it-out type of offense.”

About his recruiting: Lodge has made unofficial visits to Texas A&M, Texas, Oklahoma and TCU, and he’s looking to visit Ole Miss, LSU, Ohio State and several other programs before the end of the summer. Lodge said he’s hoping to hear more from Oregon and USC during the spring evaluation period. Ole Miss is a team he roots for, as he is a former Jackson, Miss., resident, and he’s hoping former teammate Adeboyejo has success there. Clemson also is a school he’s keeping his eye on, as he’s a fan of the trend of receiver talent there.

Scouting profile: Lodge is a savvy, precise route runner for a younger player. Comes off the line with purpose and has a plan. Covers a lot of ground quickly with his stride. Can explode out of cuts, and his burst step is a long one. Really does a nice job of securing balls thrown outside of his frame. Rarely allows the football to get into his frame. Better vertically than after the catch. This is not to say he does not make things happen with the ball in his hands; in fact, he is deceptively productive on underneath catches, but his size/speed ratio and ability to set up DBs on deep routes is very strong. -- Tom Luginbill

Handicapping the race: Lodge’s recruiting can be defined in two words -- wide open. Many feel Texas A&M and Baylor are frontrunners in the process, but schools like Florida, LSU, Oklahoma, Clemson, Ole Miss, USC and Oregon are very much alive in the race. Two schools not originally in his top 10 released in January -- Texas and Ole Miss -- are schools fans are keeping an eye on, as well. Keep an eye on the Aggies and Bears, especially with the spring evaluation period in full effect.