- Sam Khan Jr., ESPN Staff Writer
Each week, GigEmNation reporter Sam Khan Jr. will bring you five things he learned from watching high school football action in the Midlands region that week, including observations of Texas A&M commitments and targets and other players that catch his attention. Here's this week's installment:
1. Manvel (Texas) High School cornerback Tavares Garner has good ball skills and instincts. The 2013 Texas A&M commitment made a big play on the Mavericks' first defensive series, returning an interception 22 yards for a touchdown. He also made some key tackles and deflected a pass later in the game, but Sugar Land (Texas) Dulles quarterback Robert Harris mostly refrained from throwing Garner's direction after the pick-six. He turned in a good performance in his team's 39-26 second-round playoff win on Friday.
2. Garner's teammate, 2013 receiver Kyrion Parker, didn't get a lot of throws his way but was still able to make an impact. The Texas A&M pledge made a couple of big plays late in the game. One was blocking -- he did a good job of blocking on a fly sweep for teammate Austin Bennett, an Oklahoma commit, as Bennett went around Parker and scurried for a 39-yard gain to set up the next play, a 20-yard touchdown pass to Parker in the corner of the end zone.
3. Manvel has plenty of big names that have either committed or been offered by premier programs, but two of their best players are guys without a lot of recruiting fanfare: 2013 quarterback Shane McCarley and receiver Carlos Thompson. McCarley leads the Houston-area in passing yards this season (3,783) and touchdown passes (52). The Old Dominion commitment is a strong-armed, mobile, accurate quarterback who consistently makes plays. Thompson has been his favorite target this season, catching 61 passes for 1,339 yards and 22 touchdowns. On Saturday in the win over Dulles, he caught three passes for 118 yards and two touchdowns -- one a 54-yard reception down the middle of the field, the other a short catch-and-run on an out route that Thompson took all the way. Thompson has offers from Louisiana-Lafayette and Houston Baptist.
4. Pearland (Texas) Dawson running back James White can handle a heavy workload. He got just that on Friday when his Eagles needed him most. The Texas A&M 2013 commit had 40 carries and responded with 222 rushing yards and four touchdowns to lead the Eagles to a hard-fought 48-35 playoff win over Houston Stratford on Friday at Reliant Stadium.
5. White's teammate, 2014 receiver Tony Upchurch, has been one of the area's dynamic playmakers this season. He's one that's being targeted by both LSU and Texas A&M at the moment and on Friday he showed his versatility. Though he's a receiver, he also lines up in the backfield at running back and scored on a 15-yard run on a handoff. He later took a quick hitch and turned it into a 54-yard touchdown reception. Upchurch, who also returns kicks, finished the day with 158 combined rushing and receiving yards on just six touches and scored both of his touchdowns in the fourth quarter.
9hSam Khan Jr.
2dGreg Ostendorf and Alex Scarborough
4dSam Khan Jr.