- Max Olson, ESPN Staff Writer
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:
Max’s games: Livingston vs. Mont Belvieu Barbers Hill, DeSoto vs. Harker Heights
1. Top commit James is back
In The Heard this week, we mentioned that Darius James was going to the doctor on Thursday to find out of his could play in Harker Heights’ big first-round game against DeSoto.
Still, it was a bit of surprise to see the ESPN 150 Texas commit take the field on Saturday after missing nearly his entire senior season with a broken left foot.
What was even more remarkable is the fact that, despite losing 62-15 to No. 2 ranked DeSoto, James played all four quarters and stayed on the field for defense, too.
Now that James’ foot is healthy, he knows he’s got a lot of work to do on his conditioning. He broke the foot in August and said he weight ballooned up to 340 or more pounds because he couldn’t do any running.
James played left guard most of the game on Saturday, but if he can stay healthy going forward he’ll have a chance to seriously push Dom Espinosa for the starting job at center in 2013.
2. No rest for ATH Collins
Friday night was a brutal one for Texas athlete commit Chevoski Collins.
His Livingston team never stood a chance in a 31-0 loss to Barbers Hill. By my count, the Lions turned the ball over at least six times on the night.
But you can’t fault Collins. He gave everything he had in this game as he has all season.
The future Longhorn defensive back started at quarterback and safety. He also returned kicks, and he moved to receiver when the game started getting away from Livingston.
His stats weren’t great on offense, and Collins turned the ball over three times in the first half on an interception, a muffed punt return and a fumbled exchange with a running back.
But Collins still played a heck of a game on defense. He didn’t give up any big passes, and he absolutely flatted a receiver on one third-down play. He plays with impressive power for a guy who’s only 6-foot and 190 pounds.
That’s certainly not the way he wanted to end his high school career, but Collins told me he’s excited for what comes next. He’ll focus on working out this spring to get ready for his first summer as a Longhorn.
3. Dontre Wilson is very good
ESPN 150 Oregon commit Dontre Wilson (DeSoto, Texas/DeSoto) is ranked as an athlete because he could make a fine running back or slot receiver or college. Turns out he can play some defense, too.
Wilson scooped up a fumble and took it back 55 yards for a touchdown in DeSoto’s win over Harker Heights, and he also picked off a pass. He told me he’s been playing safety from time to time this year just to stay on the field as much as possible.
By the way, Wilson still rushed for 99 yards and four touchdowns and also had a 48-yard touchdown catch. So that’s six total touchdowns. Not bad.
Texas coaches haven’t been in touch with Wilson since he committed to the Ducks back in May. I’m beginning to think there’s nothing that will sway him from that pledge.
What if Oregon coach Chip Kelly goes to the NFL? Won’t make much of a difference to Wilson.
“I think nothing is really going to change at Oregon if Chip Kelly leaves,” Wilson. “Somebody is going to take over and they’ll keep doing the same thing. Oregon will always be Oregon. It would be bittersweet if he leaves, though.”
Next up for Wilson is arguably the best and biggest game in the state this weekend: DeSoto vs. Coppell at Allen’s new $60 million Eagle Stadium.
“I can’t wait,” he said. “It’s the game everybody has been talking about, the game everybody been waiting for.”
4. New baseball commit advances
The Mont Belvieu (Texas) Barbers Hill team that knocked Collins’ Livingston squad out of the playoffs is led by junior quarterback Kaleb Denny.
Why should you know that name? He gave his verbal commitment to Texas’ baseball program for its 2014 class this week.
Denny, an outfielder who chose UT over TCU and Baylor on Wednesday, runs the show in the Eagles’ triple option attack. He didn’t put up big numbers on Friday, completing 3 of 8 passes for 13 yards, but he didn’t need to.
Barbers Hill rolled to a fairly easy 31-0 victory and he got pulled from the game early in the fourth quarter. Barbers Hill takes on Elgin in the next round.
5. Longhorns in the playoffs
Of the 14 Texas verbal commits with teams that made the state playoffs, only six survived for round two. Here’s a recap of who’s moving on to the area round of the playoffs and who is now done for the year.
OT Jake Raulerson: Celina vs. Dallas Madison (3A-2)
WR Jake Oliver: Dallas Jesuit vs. Longview (5A-2)
S Erik Huhn (injured): Cibolo Steele vs. San Antonio Roosevelt (5A-2)
QB Jerrod Heard: Denton Guyer vs. Aledo (4A-1)
QB Lorenzo Joe: Abilene Cooper vs. Arlington (5A-2)
DE Derick Roberson: San Antonio Brennan vs. Cedar Park Vista Ridge (4A-2)
Harker Heights (Darius James, Naashon Hughes); Lake Highlands (Kent Perkins); Cypress Falls (Jacorey Warrick, injured); Arlington Martin (Kyle Hicks); Livingston (Chevoski Collins); Houston Eisenhower (Donald Catalon).