Thursday, May 9, 2013
Serra's young stars emerging this spring
By Erik McKinney
Heading into the spring, it was difficult to imagine any duo in the West region stealing the recruiting spotlight from Gardena (Calif.) Serra's Adoree' Jackson and Dwight Williams. And while the five-star cornerback and four-star linebacker still rank as two of the more highly-recruited players in the country, some of the buzz has shifted to another set of teammates in Southern California. You won't hear much complaining from Jackson and Williams, however, as they share a locker room with the new dynamic duo.
Outside linebacker John Houston and defensive end Rasheem Green -- stars of the 2015 recruiting class -- didn't step into the recruiting process this spring; they dove in. For both, it was outstanding performances at the Los Angeles Nike Camp that catapulted them onto the radars of college coaches. UCLA offered both shortly after the event and they have been on a roll since then.
USC and UCLA are both in the mix for Rasheem Green, but the ESPN Junior 300 prospect doesn't plan on making a decision any time soon.
The 6-foot-3, 198-pound Houston collected offers from Florida, Miami (Fla.) and USC before adding Oklahoma and Washington State following Wednesday's practice -- just Serra's second of the spring. Green, a 6-foot-5, 269-pound defensive linemen, has an offer sheet that consists of California, Florida, Tennessee, USC, Utah, Washington, and, as of the conclusion of Wednesday's practice, Notre Dame.
While Green is physically imposing on the field, his soft-spoken nature off of it comes as something of a shock.
"I was not ready for it," Green said of the recruiting explosion this spring. "I didn't think I'd be getting scholarship offers like this. My first offer was from the Bruins and I was surprised. I didn't see it coming. I was shocked."
Offer after offer followed, and Green still says he isn't used to it. The offer from Notre Dame on Wednesday left him slightly speechless.
"It just makes me think of myself playing at the next level," he said of the multiple offers. "That's really a dream come true for me -- just being able to play at the next level."
Houston said it has been fun to display his skills for coaches this spring. Serra was visited by seven schools on the first day, then five more on the second.
"It's been really fun out here just doing what I love," Houston said. "It's a good feeling to get coaches out here to see what I'm doing."
Houston was taken aback when he heard Oklahoma offered following Wednesday's practice, but he's found a way to take it all in stride.
"I say all the time that I think I deserve these," Houston said of his offers. "For all the time I spent in Pop Warner and during the offseasons, the spring balls and working out on my own. I think offers will keep coming if I put in more and more work each and every day."
Neither Green nor Houston is in any rush to move through the recruiting process. Houston said he likely won't settle on a school until well into his senior season. He did add that he'll be looking for strong academics as well as a comfortable atmosphere at his school of choice -- a place that feels like home in every aspect.
As for their talents on the field, versatility will be a key in keeping both players atop multiple recruiting boards. Green is able to play defensive end and tackle, and will likely see time at offensive tackle this year as well. He said, in looking at the next level, he doesn't care where he plays along the line, as long as it's on defense. Houston will be on the defensive side of the ball as well, although a potential position is far more complicated. He said coaches have discussed outside linebacker mostly, but this year he could line up on the inside or outside at linebacker, drop down as a defense end, or fall back as a safety.
"I'm working hard at every position I can get into," Houston said. "I'd like to keep doing that."
Houston added that he is looking forward to leaning on Jackson and Williams, as well as other members of next year's senior class, Glen Ihenacho, Jalen Green and Olajuwon Tucker, to help guide him on and off the field. But both 2015 standouts won't be asked just to blend in next season. Serra has been blessed over the years with an unbelievable amount of talent in the defensive back seven and offensive skill positions, so Green understands how much is riding on him to carry the torch for the Cavaliers big men.
"There's pressure," Green said. "The team's goals for me are big this season, for offense and defense. I have to keep working hard and have to step up on the field."
If that happens, success this fall should mirror the success the young pair has found this spring, though Houston knows it won't be easy.
"It's about staying humble and working hard," Houston said. "We can't slack off because we got to State last year. We have to work even harder to get this offense and defense going. We want to score every play and get a turnover on every down. We have to keep going and going if we're going to go 16-0."