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Monday, May 20, 2013
Bayou City Beat: Houston Kinkaid loaded

By Sam Khan Jr.

With summer drawing closer, Texas high school football teams are transitioning from spring football to 7-on-7 competition and there were a handful of teams in attendance at the inaugural Crosby Cougar 7-on-7 tournament in Crosby, Texas, on Saturday.

Among them was a talented private school squad, Houston Kinkaid, which appears to have major Division I prospects in the 2014 class and beyond.

One of the most impressive players in the eight-team tournament was 2015 quarterback J.T. Granato. The 6-foot-3 Granato led Kinkaid to the tournament championship and showed off his arm strength and accuracy. Granato has seen several  major programs come through Kinkaid this spring, including the likes of Texas, Texas A&M, Florida, Notre Dame and Stanford, just to name a few. He'll hit the camp circuit this spring, starting on June 2 at Texas A&M. With as much interest as colleges are showing him, it stands to reason he'll pick up his first offer and perhaps more while he's making unofficial visits this summer.

But Granato isn't alone at Kinkaid. One of the many on the receiving end of his passes was 2015 receiver Samuel Mays. The 6-3, 175-pound prospect just picked up his first offer last week from Fresno State and it's easy to see why. He complements his size with good hands and the ability to go up and get the football when it's high in the air. Schools will continue to show plenty of interest in Mays as the spring wears on.

In the 2014 class, Kinkaid has a pair of talented cornerbacks, Thomas Dillon and Josh Armstrong. Dillon, a 5-11, 175-pound prospect, also has a Fresno State offer and just picked up his second, from BYU, on Thursday. Duke could be close to offering and Houston is showing interest in Dillon, who also plays offense for Kinkaid and showed some nice hands while playing receiver on Saturday.

Armstrong is a sleeper prospect. While he doesn't have an offer yet, the 6-1, 165-pound corner does have interest from a couple schools (North Texas and New Mexico State) and on Saturday showed good instincts in coverage, intercepting two passes.

Perhaps the most talked-about prospect on Kinkaid's roster, 2014 tight end Mavin Saunders, didn't play Saturday because of a hamstring injury suffered earlier in the week. That hasn't stopped schools from coming after him though. Ohio State was the latest to be added to his double-digit offer list. Texas A&M was at his practice on Wednesday to see him, though the hamstring injury prevented him from working out that day as well.

Good crop at Crosby

Another impressive team in Saturday's 7-on-7 tournament was the host squad, Crosby (Texas) High School.

Led by twins Aston Walter and Austin Walter, both Rice commitments, the Cougars went 4-1 on the day, losing only to eventual champion Houston Kinkaid by one point. Aston, a 5-7 quarterback, showed arm strength, accuracy and a nice touch on his passes. Rice plans to use him as a Wildcat quarterback, as the Owls use the package regularly and he should be a quality weapon in that regard. Austin, a running back, did a nice job of producing while catching passes out of the backfield or lining up at an inside receiver position. He has speed, hands and enough agility to make defenders miss.

The Cougars had several talented receivers for Aston Walter to throw to, including 2014 prospect Cullen Lee and 2016 prospect Shane Hudson. Lee is getting some interest from the service academies, UTSA, Houston Baptist and some others. The 6-3 Lee could be an H-back or possibly grow into a tight end at the next level. Hudson played on varsity as a freshman and though he's light (155), he's tall (6-1) and showed playmaking ability and good hands.

On the defensive side, Crosby inside linebacker Chase Nix showed well and is generating a lot of interest. Nebraska, Nevada, North Texas and UTSA are among the schools that have inquired about the 6-2, 220-pound linebacker.

2015 receiver to watch

The tallest player in the tournament was Huffman (Texas) Hargrave 2015 receiver Chase Harrell. Also a basketball player and a track star, Harrell stands 6-4 and weighs 195 and can get high in the air to snag the football. His touchdown catch represented the only points Hargrave put up when it ran into Crosby. Harrell is already getting interest from Baylor, Houston, Texas and UTSA.