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Five from Friday: Huhn, James injured

9/2/2012

Every week through the football season, HornsNation’s William Wilkerson and Max Olson will break down five things they learned while on the road at Texas high school football games. From the latest on Longhorn commits and offers to game observations to players who caught their attention, they've got you covered. Here’s what they saw this weekend:

William’s game: Cibolo Steele vs. San Antonio Madison

Max’s games: Harker Heights vs. Round Rock Stony Point; DeSoto vs. Arlington Martin

1. You’ve got to feel for 2013 Longhorns safety commitment Erik Huhn (Cibolo, Texas/Steele), who appeared to injure himself pretty badly early in the Knights' season opener on Friday.

On the second play of Steele’s first defensive series Huhn leaped up and intercepted a pass and went to the ground untouched. But he immediately reacted as if something bad happened to his left leg. He was helped off the field and immediately taken to a table where he was evaluated and would stay the rest of the game.

I don’t want to speculate on what the injury is until official word comes out. Huhn told me after the game that he would have an MRI today. But it doesn’t look good.

True to form, though, Huhn was gracious in talking with me after the game despite his rough night. I wish him a speedy recovery.

- William Wilkerson

2. Darius James (Harker Heights, Texas/Harker Heights) honestly did not think his left foot injury was a serious one. He thought sitting out was just the right thing to do, so he wouldn’t aggravate it further.

Long season ahead, he said, and this was only the opener.

Unfortunately, he’s now looking at a long season of sitting on the sidelines after X-rays revealed James broke his foot on Thursday night.

It was a tough blow for one of the nation’s most gifted offensive lineman and the No. 17 recruit in the ESPN 150. I did get to watch James play for two quarters, and one thing really stood out: The guy is not to be trifled with on defense.

Harker Heights played James at defensive end. Round Rock Stony Point repeatedly tried to get a zone-read option game going. The key is reading the defensive end. If he crashes in, the quarterback keeps it. If the end holds off, the running back takes a handoff up the middle.

James didn’t care. He kept getting past his lineman and stuffing the play before it had a chance to develop. He recorded two sacks on the night and a few more tackles for loss.

You could tell he’s a vital cog for the defense. Fellow Texas commit Naashon Hughes stood out more when he had James in front of him taking on blockers and wreaking havoc.

Now that James is sidelined, though, you have to wonder if his days of playing defense are numbered. A guy who has broken bones in both of his feet in the same year probably doesn’t need that many snaps per game in high school.

- Max Olson

3. Kyle Hicks is back.

The Texas running back commit from Arlington (Texas) Martin spent the summer recovering from a broken bone in his right foot. You couldn’t easily tell on Friday. Hicks ran for 124 yards on 24 carries against DeSoto. There were no big breakaway runs to pad those stats, either. Nearly all of his big gains were hard-earned.

DeSoto didn’t give him much open space, but Hicks made guys miss and picked up lots of second-chance yards after absorbing blows. His first touchdown run was a thing of beauty -- he sliced through the defense and danced around several tackles -- and it was only a 14-yard run.

After the game, a DeSoto coach found Hicks and told him their staff was impressed by how well he’d played. They could tell he was a bit tentative as a runner at first, but he only got better.

Hicks admitted he was anxious to see how he’d handle that first big cut, that first big hit. But he hung in there.

Hicks is a tough, shifty runner who isn’t afraid to hit the middle and run into a crowd. He’ll be a good complement for Texas’ loaded backfield and, at the very least, a guy capable of easily taking over Jeremy Hills' carries and fighting for more.

- Max Olson

4. I had high expectations for 2014 running back Justin Stockton (Cibolo, Texas/Steele) heading into the Knights much-anticipated game against San Antonio Madison on Friday. This matchup has been the premiere game to kickoff the San Antonio high school football season for three years running.

The last two games met expectations and were thrillers, but Stockton made this one one-sided. He rushed for 262 yards and four touchdowns in Steele’s 41-21 victory. That included runs of 75 and 56 yards.

Stockton, who is 5-foot-9, 175-pounds, rushed for 1,500 yards last season and was noticeably bigger, having gained 15 pounds over the offseason.

Texas already has two 2014 running back commitments in Donald Catalon and Daniel Gresham, and has two other offers out. I’m not sure how many backs the Longhorns take in this class, but Stockton could be a player to keep an eye on with the other two offered backs appearing like long shots. He reminds me a lot of 2013 commitment Kyle Hicks.

- William Wilkerson

5. Why in the world would a team punt to Dontre Wilson (Desoto, Texas/Desoto)?

“I don’t know,” he said. “They just kept doing it.”

The ESPN 150 athlete and Oregon commit made Arlington Martin pay for that on Friday night. He took a third-quarter punt back 94 yard to break open DeSoto’s 37-14 season-opening win.

Wilson also ran for 76 yards on 10 carries and caught four passes for 93 yards. There’s not much power to his game, particularly when running up the middle, but few athletes in this state have his elusiveness.

Watching him, you couldn’t help but think Wilson would’ve been D.J. Monroe 2.0 had he chosen Texas.

Monroe picked up 51 yards and a touchdown on only five touches in Texas’ season opener. Longhorn coaches are making a concerted effort to get the ball in his hands more in 2012.

Will that impress Wilson? I doubt it. He told me he’s “locked in” to his pledge to Oregon and is planning an official visit to Eugene for when the Ducks play Washington in October.

Wilson also said he hasn’t heard a word from Texas since he committed to Oregon on May 25. If Daje Johnson makes an impact this fall, the Horns might not need Wilson.

But after seeing him Friday, there’s no question in my mind Texas could find a way to make Wilson a weapon.

- Max Olson